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Maybe you can't beat K Street in Fairfax

The likes of Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio were able to find funding for their insurgent campaigns. (Photo: Thinkstock)

Conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat looks at the Virginia governor's race, in which crony capitalist Terry McAuliffe trounced populist-y, libertarian-ish Republican Ken Cuccinelli, and sees a problem for free-market populism and reform conservatism:

When thinking about the limits of the populist model ... you can’t ignore its potential downside for Republican fundraising, or the hard reality that the party’s donor class has the ability to kill a candidate they don’t like in a general election as thoroughly as the party’s populist wing can kill a candidate in a primary.

I would offer, in response, this thought: Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Pat Toomey were all able to raise decent money in their insurgent runs against the K Street donor base by tapping into a varied donor network: the outside-the-Beltway wealthy financiers of the Club for Growth; the grassroots ideological money and Fox News-watching retiree money of FreedomWorks and the Senate Conservatives Fund; the small businessmen of Heritage Action.

During the government shutdown, I explained how the Tea Party provided a second money base besides K Street for the GOP.

Here was the problem for Cuccinelli: He was running in Virginia. The overlap may have been too great between local business and suckler at the federal teat.