Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is in the race of his life against Rich Friend of The Clintons, Terry McAuliffe, for the governorship of the Commonwealth of Virginia. He currently trails by a tenth of a point when compared to the Democrat, but the signs are troubling. From the Zogby poll:
One possible stumbling block for Cuccinelli is the strength of the third candidate, Libertarian nominee Robert Sarvis. When the Northern Virginia entrepreneur and attorney’s name is put into the race, Zogby found nearly a 5-point edge for the Democrat with McAuliffe at 32.2 percent, Cuccinelli 27.4 percent, Sarvis 12.7 percent, and others 3.2 percent.
It shouldn’t be this close.
I am a son of this fair land and will not suffer a word against her (you just keep quiet, Texas), but I must say I am astonished that my fellow Virginians are flirting so heavily with McAuliffe. Not only is he a carpetbagging Clinton-bundling panderer with lousy taste in shirts — he has time and again proven unserious about the office he seeks.
Just the other week he burned much of his lead over Cuccinelli by turning in an amateurish performance with the Northern Virginia Technology Council at which he — in addition to being generally ill-informed — suggested he might smooth over differences as governor over drinks. The NVTC proceeded to very publicly endorse Cuccinelli. McAuliffe’s campaign compounded the damage by whining about it.
More troubling: only just the other day it came to light that McAuliffe’s campaign had accepted sizable donations from a company involved in arms deals in West Africa. While it almost surely isn’t the case that the McAuliffe campaign was aware of this connection, it surely must be that they are not entirely careful about where the money comes from.
While the race has narrowed considerably, the question remains: why have Virginians hesitated to support Cuccinelli?
The ongoing scandal over improperly declared gifts to Governor Bob McDonnell has left a mark. Cuccinelli also received gifts. Though he was cleared of any criminal wrongdoing and paid the amount in question to charity, McAuliffe hit him hard on it.
There is also the problem of a divided GOP. Current Lt. Governor Bill Bolling has proven himself the sorest of losers after being denied a chance to lose in a primary (a chance I believe he deserved and a loss I believe was inevitable). Bolling has wasted no opportunity to harry the Cuccinelli campaign from the sidelines. The convention’s choice of outspoken Christian conservative E.W. Jackson (whom I have met and found both sane and sensible) to run for Lt. Governor added to this perception of an unrestrained arch-conservative hooliganism running roughshod over prudence and decorum. Bolling’s repeated sniping has given tacit approval for moderate Republicans to withhold support and await Cuccinelli’s defeat. At any rate, the Democrats have rallied around their man while some Republicans sit off to the side or play footsie with the Libertarians.
Northern Virginia is — shock — friendlier to corporatist influences and government largesse, two things that Cuccinelli has made a career of opposing. The folks north of Richmond have markedly different priorities from the rest of the state and — let’s just be vulgar about it — considerably more money. McDonnell was able to appeal to the monied interests there in his successful 2009 campaign despite being labeled an extreme social conservative. Cuccinelli, despite having been elected a delegate there, has struggled.
While McAuliffe has been hit repeatedly for his involvement in Greentech (a sputtering electric car firm currently under federal investigation), for some reason the air of sleaze doesn’t seem to impact his image.
While he is the very model of a modern crony capitalist, this charge doesn’t seem to register.
And then there is the Libertarian. Robert Sarvis is not going to win. That’s not a prediction, it’s a fact. Yet he is poised to abscond with a chunk of disaffected voters that might otherwise have gone to the Republican candidate. I suppose it’s only right to offer Virginians a credible, viable alternative to the two major parties, but that still doesn’t explain what a Libertarian is doing in this race. He might do better were he not so lamentably pro-choice. But he is pro-choice and he is not doing better. He could still be enough, though, to give Virginia a Democratic governor.
But it’s still a close race for Cuccinelli — and one he can win. Despite being outspent, and despite the tepid support of some segments of his own party, he has a path to victory. Endorsements from some key establishment and centrist figures have offset Bill Bolling’s perfidy, and as the weeks go on McAuliffe looks less and less steady on his feet. Added to that, all McAuliffe’s money bought him was a 7 point lead in August that evaporated once he was put under the bright lights. As for the Libertarian, he may yet play spoiler, though it is very likely the 12.7% polling he currently enjoys will prove a figment come election day.
Allow me a bit more naked advocacy than I have already displayed — I support Ken Cuccinelli for Virginia’s Governor. I firmly believe that my fellow Virginia Republicans would prefer to live in a place that isn’t run by McAuliffe: a crony of the Clintons; a glib and dim man with questionable business dealings; and a man whose only immutable political position seems to be that the right of women to end the life of their unborn children should not be infringed.
I don’t prefer to settle for such a man. I don’t believe Virginians — even Democratic Virginians — deserve such a man as their Governor.
Come November, if you’re a Virginian, vote for Ken Cuccinelli.