Because the NRCC has "encouraged" Rob Hurt to join the race, Hurt has connections and access that no one else in the primary has right now. It's his only chance at expelling the demons of his tax increasing votes.
Five years ago, Virginia legislator Robert Hurt (R) appeared on a Wild West-style “Least Wanted” poster of a prominent anti-tax organization after he voted for some tax increases in a budget plan to shore up Virginia’s shaky finances.
Hurt’s vote is a major issue as he campaigns for the 2010 Republican nomination to oppose one-term Rep. Tom Perriello (D) in Virginia’s 5th district, where the National Republican Congressional Committee is promoting Hurt as the party’s strongest candidate.
Hurt was in Washington, D.C., last week to do a little damage control: he participated in a weekly meeting of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), the organization that blasted him in the 2004 poster and in an accompanying press release, and signed the group’s pledge to oppose tax increases as a member of Congress.
“He basically made the case that this was not a vote that he was comfortable with and that it wouldn’t happen again,” ATR president Grover Norquist, an influential conservative activist, told CQ Politics on Wednesday. “But he certainly made the case that in Washington, he’d never vote for a tax increase.”
Norquist said that Hurt “needs to be able to articulate why it’s credible that, having cast that vote, he wouldn’t vote for a tax increase in the future. That’s his challenge in that race.”
If the NRCC didn't want Hurt in the race, I doubt Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform would give Hurt the time of day. Unless the NRCC was doing everything possible behind the scenes to mend the fence between Hurt and top level tax activists like Norquist, I doubt they'd be open to Hurt articulating why he has changed his ways. They'd be firing off the press releases right now attacking him.
The NRCC's seal of approval will do more than give Hurt the opportunity to win back over opponents of his votes to raise taxes. It will give him a chance to raise the money needed to defeat Perriello faster than anyone else, flooding the primary as well. We are just days away from the end of the first quarter in which Hurt has been an announced candidate. All eyes will be on his fundraising to see if he's breaking away from everyone else in the pack. If Hurt raises the big bucks and leaves everyone else in the dust, the argument for Hurt becomes all about the Benjamins. We'll know soon enough if Hurt has the ability to raise the money to defeat Perriello.