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Ken Cuccinelli
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli
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.

Also republished by Virginia Kos and Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  No discrimination law, climate change denial,... (13+ / 0-) Obamacare, this guy is a consistent wingnut.

    Virginia deserves much better after it voted for Obama on Nov 6.

    Daily Kos an oasis of truth. Truth that leads to action.

    by Shockwave on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 08:30:22 AM PST

    •  Nah, not really. That is a persistant myth. (8+ / 0-)

      "Real Virginians" never did any such thing. A look at the election map shows real Virginia.

      We have a job to do in those unreal Virginia spots to make sure turn out is up there at national election levels. After all, our completely out of cycle state officer cycle is designed so that only "real" Virginians bother and all those carpetbaggers interested in things federal stay out of internal matters—little things like redistricting as an example. Also gotta see that those damn NOVA and Hampton people keep sending cash south rather than getting full value on their taxes for things like roads.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 08:49:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  va's dixiecrats/republicans have depended (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pam Bennett, Ckntfld, tikkun, Aquarius40

      on the historic confederate hatreds, racism/mysogyny, to keep them in power since reconstruction. every so often, it fails them (wilder), but for the most part, it's been a very successful approach. they know they can get out the old, racist/mysogoynistic/white/male/southern baptist (religion of slavery) vote in off-year elections. they do this by putting the fear of black men/women having control of their own bodies in front of them, like waving red in front of a raging bull. works nearly every time.

      their power base is SW va (eric cantor), and prince william/loudon counties, in nva. they pick up chunks of votes south of the james, and in the rural parts of the tidewater, along the eastern end of 460. bear in mind, they've got east & west covered: liberty university in lynchburg, and regent in va beach. those people will come out to vote in 2014.

      unfortunately, the state democratic party isn't nearly as well organized, and fiscally well oiled, as their republican counterpart is.

      •  Eric Cantor is from Richmond, not SW VA (0+ / 0-)
        •  Unfortunately (0+ / 0-)

          you are right. Cantor is from Richmond and was my congresscritter when I lived there. He rarely came home, and when he did he only hung out with his rich backers who live down by the James. He couldn't care less about the rest of us.
          SW VA is pretty much just an extension of upper E. TN which has been Republican since the Civil War.

          Being "pro-life" means believing that every child born has a right to food, education, and access to health care.

          by Jilly W on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 11:33:54 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Is there another democrat besides Terry McAuliffe? (14+ / 0-)

    Virginia democrats should really have a better choice than him.

    BTW, when my spellchecker checked McAuliffe, the only suggestion was cauliflower. Take that for whatever it is worth.

    Do Pavlov's dogs chase Schroedinger's cat?

    by corwin on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 08:36:24 AM PST

  •  As Donovan might sing it: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matt Z, betelgeux

    Cu Cu, Cu Cu Cinelli Nelli
    What a Wingnut

    A definition is the enclosing of a wilderness of ideas within a wall of words -- Samuel Butler

    by A Mad Mad World on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 08:53:21 AM PST

  •  And don't forget, The Kook tried to stop college (10+ / 0-)

    clinics from dispensing birth control pills to students.  I don't think he succeeded in this, but it certainly pissed me and a lot of other people off.

    If any Rethugs approach me next year to ask me to vote for their candidate, I'm going to say one word, over and over:

    "Transvaginal, transvaginal, transvaginal."

    I've also thought of, "The day you grow a vagina, come back and see me and we'll talk about whether I should vote for you."

    Aging.  White. Male.  Rich. Self-described "Christians."  That's the Rethug party.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 09:58:45 AM PST

  •  at this point, Dem ticket seems 2/3 set (6+ / 0-)

    Terry McAuliffe is only one seriously running for Governor, and at this point it looks like State. Sen. Mark Herring is the only serious candidate for AG.  Both are NoVa based.

    There is a contest at this point for LG, with no clear favorite at this point, although given that the selection will be by primary and the largest share of votes is in NoVa (followed by Richmond and Tidewater) Aneesh Chopra might have an edge, although State Senator Ralph Northam cannot be discounted.

    Given that Cory Booker is not going to challenge Christie in NJ, expect millions in out of state money for these races.  

    Unfortunately, so far McAuliffe has NOT positively defined himself, and is in danger of getting painted negatively.

    On the other hand, Cuccinelli is so extreme that as of now Lt. Gov Bolling will not endorse him, and the only reason McDonnell probably will is because he does not want to piss off the extreme right because he wants to run for President in 2016.

    We'll see how it plays out.

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 10:59:25 AM PST

    •  McDonnell vs. Clinton 2016? Look for Democrats (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBraden, Rube Goldberg

      breaking 350 evs (even if a few states try to rig results with ev by gerrymandered districts.

      "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

      by TofG on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 07:32:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just the thought (4+ / 0-)

    of Kookinelli being governor sends chills down my spine.

  •  We have got to recognize (9+ / 0-)

    the importance of governorship and legislative offices at the state level.

    Right now, over half a million more people voted for democrats for congress than for republicans - yet the Rs won about 25 more congressional seats than democrats did.

    It all boils down to redistricting.  And redistricting boils down to who controls the governorship when the next census is taken.

    If we lose sight of this, the problem could continue to snowball until democratic votes are pushed completely out of the House, regardless of how voters vote.

    •  Not exactly ... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JBraden, VirginiaBlue, Aquarius40

      It all boils down to redistricting.  And redistricting boils down to who controls the governorship when the next census is taken.

      In many states .. it boils down to the legislature .. or the governor/legislature combo

    •  Lots of comments by people outside Virginia and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Aquarius40, kindler, hayden

      some inside without strong ties to the state miss an important point. Virginia, as a state, is reasonably reliably "blue" only during federal cycle elections. In any statewide race during a national election cycle the state is blueish. A point many non Virginians, and even some new or not particularly interested in state matters, is that Virginia is not just a "mid term" state—it is intentionally an out of federal cycle state.

      I'd have to research for citations, but I am reasonably sure that was part of a segregation era move to ensure only "real Virginians" would turn out to determine governance of the state. The four year term state offices are determined the year after the national presidential election and an election the year after federal mid terms determines others.

      The out of cycle elections serve the intended purpose reasonably well. I know lots of people in NOVA that will turn out for federal cycle elections but "forget" or are "too busy" to turn out for state office. Except for some occasional wake up calls it is possible to live in NOVA, particularly the Alexandria, Arlington and Fairfax inner suburbs, and pretty much ignore "Richmond" entirely.

      This particularly applies to the large immigrant population of those counties where (links to some of my favorites) Latin American, Indian, Korean, Vietnamese, and all sorts of other ethnic stores and restaurants can provide a cushion against "Richmond."

      A trip to Richmond is indeed another world for a hard core NOVA resident. All sorts of choices we take for granted just vanish. For me the rare trip that far south is an echo of memories of the Deep South I've almost forgotten; sweet tea and having to ask about unsweetened, a casual and rather genteel racism and a much more generally black/white world than NOVA's high diversity world for a very few examples. While that is a bit strange for a NOVA or even Hampton Roads resident, it is much closer to most of the rest of Virginia than "alien" NOVA.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 04:55:03 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's an interesting point. (0+ / 0-)

        But hush!  If this got around, the next thing you know, the Rs will change the dates of all the gubernatorial elections that coincide with a presidential election!

        •  Virginia is not entirely alone, though unique. (0+ / 0-)

          I was wrong about the era and motive, though I do remember some expert opinion pieces on how the "off-off" cycle aided in insulating state elections from national issue voters for changes in the integration era.

          The background is found in William & Mary Election Law Society's "Virginia’s Off-Off-Year Elections." It actually goes back to 1851-1852 events. It did have this interesting effect according to that piece:

          The off-off-year cycle is probably one reason that Republicans were able to get a strong foothold in Virginia sooner than they did in many other southern states. In the early 1950s it became apparent to Democratic Senator Harry Byrd Sr., the political godfather of the Byrd organization that controlled Virginia politics for half a century that the Virginia Democrats were probably more in agreement with national Republicans on many issues than they were with national Democrats. In the presidential election of 1952, Byrd helped the Eisenhower-Nixon ticket win Virginia, but then turned around in 1953 and convinced those same voters who had cast ballots for Republicans the year before to vote for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Thomas B. Stanley. This quadrennial pattern of presidential-gubernatorial electioneering repeated itself in 1956-57 and 1960-61, skipped 1964-65 due to the extremism of Barry Goldwater, and then reverted to a new pattern 1968-69, 1972-73, and 1976-77 when many of those conservative Democrats who had been flipping decided to just stay with the Republicans both years.
          in "[Why do Four States Have Odd-Year Elections? ]" by Karl Kurtz we see the assumption—and probable frequent actual effect—along with debunking that as the direct motive in the four states with odd year state elections (Louisiana, Missisissippi, New Jersey and Virginia).
          When a reporter asked us why Louisiana, Missisissippi, New Jersey and Virginia have state elections in odd-numbered years, Tim Storey and I replied that it was probably the same reason that states have moved their gubernatorial elections into non-presidential election years: to insulate them from national political trends. After doing some research, though, it turns out that the reasons are sometimes more prosaic and quirky.

          The author notes it is in New Jersey that a hint of "the motive" of insulation appears:

          Interestingly, though, this case provides some evidence of the desire to insulate New Jersey politics from national trends. Gov. Alfred E. Driscoll testified before the constitutional convention as follows:

          ...the election for a Governor and for Assemblymen should not coincide with a Presidential election.  The importance of a gubernatorial election merits an election that will not be overshadowed by a national contest for the Presidency.  The problems confronting the State are frequently distinct from those confronting the nation...

          I would suggest a progressive, in the traditional sense, effort should be made to combinie these elections both to save money and increase turnout of the electorate to get a better "voice of the electorate." While the TP/GOP rants about near mythical election fraud and taxpayer dollars wasted our side could well demand better election management and savings.

          The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

          by pelagicray on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 07:12:02 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Guy sounds like more of a prick (8+ / 0-)

    than Santorum. Which is quite the accomplishment.

    I STILL want to see Mitt's taxes.

    by Van Buren on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 06:33:39 PM PST

  •  Cuccinelli's witch hunt on Michael Mann at the (5+ / 0-)

    UVa should come back to haunt him.

    Mitt Romney rides off into the sunset in his Audi.

    by captainlaser on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 06:34:18 PM PST

  •  He has good hair, he's handsome, AND he's a prick (5+ / 0-)

    that's like a triple Lindy for republicans

    Slow thinkers - keep right

    by Dave the Wave on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 06:45:04 PM PST

  •  He has that snotty, sneering, I'm-the-biggest- (4+ / 0-)

    asshole-in-the-room look about him.  And he probably is, if Scott Walker isn't in the crowd.

  •  Republicans will continue to act (4+ / 0-)

    as if they won the election, as if the nation backed their batshit crazy agenda, as if they had a mandate from God.

    They will continue to nominate the craziest MFers they can find and will double down on their attempts to stop early voting and impose voter ID laws.

    They are already taking aim at having a key section of the Voting Rights Act declared unconstitutional. Next up will be to try to get Griswold v. Connecticut overturned so they can outlaw contraception.

  •  Well... Virginia now has two former Democratic (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevenaxelrod, pelagicray, Aquarius40

    Governors serving as US Senators. One of them a former DNC chair too. Now it will have another former DNC chair running for Governor. He lost his last try which was also his own first try for office. He should be able to raise a bunch of money and he should be able to define himself well and his opponent as an extremist. I'm no McAuliffe fan but I'd definitely like to see him win if he's going to be the Democratic candidate and I'd rather not see a divisive primary that opens the door for another Republican Governor of the state. It's time for Democrats to start taking control of Virginia. They need to lock in the federal dominance at the state level as well and then start spreading it at the lower levels throughout the state.

    "Do what you can with what you have where you are." - Teddy Roosevelt

    by Andrew C White on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 06:50:56 PM PST

  •  Cuccinelli (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    McDonnell, save for 2-3 really awful and needlessly inflammatory and privilege-utilizing moves (the Confederacy Celebration Month thing, the vaginal ultrasound thing, etc.) has been a fairly good centrist Governor. And that has, of course, been defined down to mean, "hasn't destroyed our economy", but still...

    Cuccinelli is a terrible man, and would be a terrible Governor. Bolling would've been a step sideways at a time when Virginia could move forward. Cuccinelli would be a dangerous step back.

    Please, nation, help Virginia not inflict that wound upon itself.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 06:51:00 PM PST

    •  Centrist? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pelagicray, Aquarius40

      I would say "Centrist" in a Tea-Partyite definition of 'conservative', at best.  McDonnell has not been 'centrist' as much as 'not as extreme as we thought he would be ...'

      Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

      by A Siegel on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 07:24:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Eh... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JBraden, stevenaxelrod, ConfusedSkyes the risk of dinging my Dkos cred, I'll disagree. With the notable (and nearly substantive, were it not for McDonnell's blessed ability to be shamed -- something so many Tea Party nuts lack) exceptions I mentioned, Virginia's economy, both public and private, has done well. And our social scene has hardly moved rightward. He's been a centrist caretaker of the Commonwealth as it's moved from red to blue, whether he meant to or not.

        it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

        by Addison on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 07:53:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Just try a simple thing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          go to his wikipedia


          He has used his amendatory veto power to restrict state funding for abortions.

          Since taking office, McDonnell has pushed for privatization

          promoted offshore drilling for Virginia

          McDonnell issued a directive ordering the Department of Conservation and Recreation to cease enforcing regulations that prohibit people from openly carrying firearms in state parks. He has also given preliminary approval to amend the regulations to allow people to carry open or concealed firearms in state forests.

          Governor McDonnell issued a proclamation designating April 2010 as "Confederate History Month" following similar designations by two of his Republican predecessors, George Allen and James S. Gilmore. However, the last two governors, who were Democrats, did not designate such a month. Unlike Gilmore's proclamation, which included anti-slavery language, McDonnell's initial proclamation left out any direct mention of slavery

          Etc ...

          Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

          by A Siegel on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 10:06:33 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  "Really conservative" an understatement (8+ / 0-)

    Cuccinelli is one of the most extremist elected officials in America.  He used the full powers of his office as attorney general to attack the University of Virginia for harboring a -- gasp! -- climate scientist.  

    His frivilous subpoenas ended up costing U-VA over half a million dollars in legal fees before the state Supreme Court tossed it out as a bad joke.  But much more important is what this whole sordid affair says about his view of the proper use of government, of the role of academic freedom in America, and how far he is willing to go to make his (Big Oil, Gas and Coal) donors happy.  

    This is not a small government conservative.  This is not a libertarian who wants government to just leave you alone.  This is a man who will bring the full offensive apparatus of government to your doorstep if you don't fit the mold of right-wing, tea party America.  He has spent his time and powers as AG doing all he can to strip away the rights of gays, women, immigrants and whomever else he deems deserves to be marginalized.  His favorite tool is not rhetoric or procedure or cajoling, but browbeating and bullying.

    This is not your father's Ronald Reagan conservative, but one who represents the ugliest totalitarian pretentions of the Dominionist, tea party conspiracy crowd.  

    Cuccinelli truly needs to be stopped next November, or Virginia and America will be in deep, deep trouble.

    Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four.  If that is granted, all else follows. -- George Orwell, 1984. Now on Twitter.

    by kindler on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 07:02:06 PM PST

  •  Virginians (0+ / 0-)

    This seems like a good place to find people knowledgeable about Virginia politics.

    Is Mark Warner going to run for President in 2016? And what should we know about him?

    •  He wants to (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Warner is the classic Conservadem, always trying to position himself between the Dems and the Repubs rather than standing with his own.  You can follow his follies and Cuccinelli's at Blue Virginia.

      Freedom is the freedom to say two plus two make four.  If that is granted, all else follows. -- George Orwell, 1984. Now on Twitter.

      by kindler on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 06:42:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Cuccinelli (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    post rational

    is in real trouble when UVA alum realize that his climate denial was a central element in the leadership crisis there:

    Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart NOW! for a sustainable energy future.

    by A Siegel on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 07:21:28 PM PST

  •  Meditating on Va. GOPers: "What does it profit a (0+ / 0-)

    party if they gain the governorship but lose over and over both U. S. senators and the electoral college?"

    "A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading. There are traps everywhere ". C. S. Lewis

    by TofG on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 07:24:09 PM PST

  •  "Do not trust me" (0+ / 0-)

    I heard that coming out of my own mouth talking to my dog when I was headed toward leaning on one of her front legs and just trying to get some sleep goddammit.

    Because I was ready to lie down on my bed. With my dog.

    And a vet bill is almost as ridiculous as a human-bill.

    Fuck this. General Strike. It isn't right.


    Poor people have too much money and vote too often. Republican platform plank, 1980 - present

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 07:37:39 PM PST

  •  I still cannot believe (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that Virginia is a bit bluer than Florida!!

    It's not easy being a Floridian: PS I'm a lawYER now; no longer a lawSTUDENT.

    by lawstudent922 on Wed Dec 26, 2012 at 07:39:00 PM PST

  •  Were Cantor and Cuccinelli separated at birth? (0+ / 0-)

    Just wondering . . . .

  •  Most of the Democrats running (0+ / 0-)

    could have beaten McDonnell, but for some reason they wound up with a hack named Creigh Deeds who was a total loss as well as being just about as stupid as MickeyD. MickeyD is giving dumb blondes everywhere a bad name. The only thing he's done worth mentioning was to reopen the interstate rest areas that had been closed by Tim Kaine just before he left office. Otherwise every step he has taken has been backward. As for Cuccinelli (aka "Captain Cooch"), he's more than just "kind of a dick." I'd characterize him as a total dick, except I hate to use such a fine upstanding word for him.....

    Being "pro-life" means believing that every child born has a right to food, education, and access to health care.

    by Jilly W on Thu Dec 27, 2012 at 11:30:37 AM PST

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