I wrote about Virginia for Politico today, jumping off from how the Bannonites turned on him immediately:
Ed Gillespie went from potential vindicator of Trumpism to cuckservative in the space of a couple of hours.
The Virginia Republican, campaigning in a treacherous political environment defined by an unpopular president of his own party, ran the only race he reasonably could. He distanced himself from Donald Trump personally, hoping to lessen his losses in heavily Democratic Northern Virginia, while hitting some Trumpian notes on crime and immigration to appeal to the president’s base.
As of last week, Gillespie looked to be gaining on Ralph Northam fast (I thought he had a good chance to win). Former Trump adviser Steve Bannon, the self-declared keeper of the Trumpist flame, believed Gillespie had cracked the code by fashioning a “Trumpism without Trump.” He managed, per Bannon, to close the enthusiasm gap “by rallying around the Trump agenda,” and Democrats needed to be “very, very worried.”
At least that was the party line until the race was called soon after the polls closed at 7 p.m. Then, Gillespie became an establishment tool who had betrayed Trumpism and the president.