State and National Politics Entwined, Too

Last time I posted, I wrote about how state-level politics sometimes overlaps with local politics in interesting ways. The same thing is true with national and state politics, as the Republican Party of Virginia showed this week.

The RPV touted the appearance of US Representative Trey Gowdy (R-SC) at a March 19 fundraiser for fellow Rep Morgan Griffith. There was just a slight hiccup, though, as you can see from the promotional graphic below.

"Beyond Benghazi" seems like some nice red meat to throw to the conservative crowd; Republicans have used the 2012 attack on the American compound in Libya as a cudgel to beat Democrats (and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) for years.

But no one asked Gowdy if this was OK. And Gowdy has made a big deal out of the fact that he will not fundraise on the issue.

And so this week he cancelled his appearance, and the event is no more. Griffith publicly supported the move:

"I can assure you, Trey never agreed to do a Benghazi event," he said. Griffith blamed overzealous staffers at the state party who thought the alliteration of "Beyond Benghazi" would sell tickets. "Someone, somewhere thought that would be clever. They never checked with us," Griffith said. "Clearly, you can't raise money off Benghazi."

Clearly, this is also a huge embarrassment for the RPV. (Blue Virginia is crowing about the optics of the cancellation, as well as just the practical cost to the party of cancelling a big fundraiser.)

Newly-crowned RPV chair John Whitbeck was already taking over a party that is, according to the Washington Post, "beset by infighting and financial trouble since then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s defeat." It could be that the lack of an executive director after Shaun Kenney stepped down is also hurting the party.

But what this fiasco also shows us is how national events can impact the states in unforeseen ways. Gowdy is playing the national politics game; he's the GOP's attack dog for the 2016 Presidential race, using Benghazi to hurt both Obama's current political capital and Hillary's future capital. When a rudderless RPV wanders into this game, it gets burned. Whitbeck needs to get his house in order. (Of course, the good news, as always, for the RPV is that the VA Dems are probably worse.)