Back when I ventured into the Dark Side (otherwise known as politics), the rule of thumb for elections was that “if you go negative, go positive in the closing days.” That meant no matter how much mud you threw during the campaign, you always closed on a positive note, running feelgood ads during the last 72 hours.

Here in Virginia, Republican gubernatorial candidate Jerry Kilgore forgot that old adage and I’m inclined to think we won’t be Governor Kilgore because of it.

Just a few months ago, Kilgore enjoyed a comfortable 10-point lead in the polls. University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato called the race “Kilgore’s to lose.”

He lost it – at he should have – by going negative early when he had the lead and staying negative all the way through the end. He also lost it because he allowed the Bush White House to bully him into letting the President campaign for him in a Monday rally that – given Bush’s incredibly-low job approval ratings – did more harm than good.

I didn’t care for Kilgore nor did I vote for him. His positions on issues didn’t click with me and he ran a lousy campaign, one that represented all that has gone wrong with the American political system. His negative, innuendo-filled ads turned off many voters. He waged a campaign of wretched excess to the extreme and, in the end, lost a campaign he could have easily won. That he lost it should be good news for residents of Virginia. How he lost it should serve as fodder for political science classes for the next few years.

Winston Churchill once said that democracy is the worst form of government imaginable, “except for all other forms.” Elections like this year’s Virginia gubernatorial farce proved him right.