Very few people expected E.W. Jackson to be the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor, as a result it was difficult to predict how his roll out would go over. In the first 48 hours Democrats have worked hard to use Jackson and his many past statements as a way to double down on the narrative that the GOP has nominated a ticket to the far right of the political spectrum.
Republicans weren't expecting Jackson, but no one associated with the campaign is working to push him to the sidelines. All of his former Lt. Governor rivals have gotten behind his campaign. The candidate that he was down to the final two with, Pete Snyder, appeared with a Jackson sign in hand at an event with the new ticket in Fairfax.
Jackson is well liked by those who know him, but his powerful and often controversial speaking style is clearly going to be a problem for the Republican ticket. It is something only Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, the man jilted by the party, is willing to say publicly. In a statement provided to NBC12, Bolling called Jackson's past statements a problem.
"Bishop Jackson is certainly entitled to his views, but you should be able to express your views without insulting people," Bolling said. "And some of the things he has said are simply indefensible."
(Bolling's full statement can be found after the jump)
Meanwhile, the GOP ticket continues to move along as a united front. The impact the surprise nomination of Jackson will have, yet to be determined.
Here is my story for NBC12:
RICHMOND (WWBT)- Just two days after his surprise nomination, the Republican Party of Virginia's candidate for Lt. Governor is already steeped in controversy! Bishop E.W. Jackson was considered a long shot among a field of seven candidates. Now some controversial statements from his past are dominating the headlines.
Bishop Jackson is known for his fiery speeches and rock ribbed conservatism. That combination is leading to headaches for the Republican Party of Virginia.
E.W. Jackson is a man who quickly makes an impression.
"Will you fight with me?" Jackson asked to loud cheers at the Coliseum Saturday afternoon.
He convinced more than half of the delegates in attendance he was worth fighting for.
Now, 48 hours into his time on the ticket we are learning more about just who Jackson is. Back in February he told me how he planned to use the office of Lt. Governor.
"It is a platform to try and inspire and unify people to rally our citizens around some commonly held beliefs," he said.
A Harvard educated lawyer, Jackson is a pastor and an honorably discharged marine. But he has unvarnished views many topics. For instance in appearance on former Saturday Night Live star Victoria Jackson’s conservative talk show, Jackson questioned President Obama’s faith.
"The idea that president obama is a Christian is laughable," said Jackson, to which the host responded
"Thank you! I keep saying that!" He has been especially critical of Planned Parenthood and in particular their work in black communities.
"Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was," Jackson said in a YouTube video.
He has also been especially critical of homosexual lifestyles in his defense of same sex marriage.
Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, a Republican who holds the job Jackson wants, said in a statement to NBC12 that many of Jackson's public statements were "insulting" and "simply indefensible."
As news of his nomination broke, national political web sites became flooded with old YouTube clips and transcripts of Jackson's past statements. It became perfect fodder for bloggers looking for clicks.
But Republicans plan to stick by their choice, hoping he can overcome the negative press and re-create the excitement he generated Saturday where he said to loud cheers: "I am not an African-American, I am an American!" And have it propel him to victory in November.
One man who hasn't wavered on Jackson's spot on the ticket is his running mate Ken Cuccinelli. The GOP nominee for Governor called Jackson a "powerful voice" for the Republican Party.
You can see Bill Bolling's entire statement on both Jackson and the RPV convention after the jump: