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Barack Obama won Virginia twice, but when it comes to the 2013 gubernatorial election there, the state's Republicans are betting on the strategy that helped doom national Republicans in 2012: really conservative white guys. Not only will they be running three really conservative white guys for the state's three top offices, their ability to do what Republicans have been swearing since November they'd start doing any day now and pretend to be less extremist than they are has been compromised by the man who'll be at the top of the Virginia Republican ticket.
In 2009, now-Gov. Bob McDonnell worked hard to package himself as more of a moderate than he actually was, stressing that he was now (unlike in the past) enlightened enough to think it was acceptable for women to work outside the home and for gays to hold office. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who will become the Republican nominee for governor thanks to having engineered a switch from a primary to a convention system dominated by ultraconservatives, won't be pretending anything of the sort, and is probably too well-known to do so in any case:
[A]fter three years of making headlines for suing the federal government to block health care reform, telling Virginia’s public colleges they can’t legally ban discrimination against gays and targeting a former University of Virginia professor’s work on climate change, the attorney general is far better known than most down-ballot statewide officeholders.
A Quinnipiac survey last month found that 45 percent of Virginians said they didn’t know enough about Cuccinelli to have an opinion of him. By comparison, 68 percent of Virginians said the same about Democratic governor hopeful Terry McAuliffe and 70 percent of Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a Republican who decided not to take on Cuccinelli for the gubernatorial nomination. Private surveys have Cuccinelli’s recognition among the public even higher—far more than McDonnell before he began his move from attorney general to governor four years ago.
Cuccinelli is also just kind of a dick, "who admits his own blunt style can be 'cold-blooded.'"
The scary thing is, even with Cuccinelli at the top of the ticket, Virginia Republicans could pull off a win in 2013 if Democrats run weak candidates and turnout is low in the off-off-year election. But for the long term, as Virginia trends bluer at the federal level, this strategy isn't going to serve Republicans well even at the state level.
Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 08:10 AM PST.