You know that Keith Fimian has got to be sweating about Sarah Palin as the vice presidential candidate. The last thing Fimian needs is to run down ticket to a campaign that is raising questions about social issues and religious ties.
Fimian has been running a stealth campaign, attempting to mute concern over his own ties to cult-like religious groups such as Tom Moneghan's Ave Maria, which has poured funds into Fimian's campaign. The last thing he needs is for social conservatives and their policies to be front and center during his campaign season.
Fimian was counting on John McCain’s maverick image from 2000, when McCain brought in lots of moderates and independents, to carry his campaign. And Fimian probably was hoping that McCain would pick an uncontroversial running mate like Mitt Romney for the ticket. Somebody who would satisfy the socially conservative base by being pro life but for whom it wouldn’t be a major issue that would grab the spotlight. But the choice of Sarah Palin has raised questions once again about the role of religion in the public square. And it's focusing women on their concern over the accessibility of contraception and safe abortions.
That just isn’t going to play well in the always moderate 11th Congressional District which is trending ever more blue. Tom Davis might have been able to finesse this ticket, but I don’t think Fimian will.
What the ticket does is put issues like the right to an abortion and contraception front and center at a time when Fimian’s whole campaign strategy is to hope that voters in his district don't focus on those issues. Given the Bush administrations recent executive order which would allow health care providers to deny women birth control and abortion options if it violates health care worker’s individual conscience, and this choice of a VP candidate, it’s obvious that in a presidential election year, the GOP thinks it must pander to its evangelical base. It’s them, not Gerry Connolly, who are driving these issues, front and center and complicating Keith Fimian’s stealth campaign for Congress.