Is the Virginia governor’s race one of the most negative ever?
The race to elect a governor to replace Republican Bob McDonnell in Virginia (limited to one term) is being touted as “one of the most purely negative (elections) ever.”
Pitted against one another are candidates Ken Cuccinelli, Va.’s staunchly conservative attorney general, and Terry McAuliffe, his liberal opposite.
Cuccinelli gained the spotlight earlier this year with an aggressive manifesto on the evils of big government. McAuliffe is a former chair of the DNC known for his allegiance to the Clintons.
Both candidates predictably name the economy, job creation, and the middle class as the focus of their campaigns. With a little less than four months left until Election Day, the race is heating up, and figurative mudslinging is at an all-time high from both sides.
Cuccinelli has christened his opponent “Union Terry” and accused him of opposing Virginia’s right-to-work law. Most recently Cuccinelli’s criticism has stemmed from McAuliffe’s overseeing the building of an electric car plant in Mississippi, not Virginia. GreenTech Automotive reportedly made use of a special government program which allowed foreign investors to receive American green cards in exchange for investments.
GreenTech’s hype was built upon its pledge to produce 1,500 manufacturing jobs and 7,000 cars this year, though so far, GreenTech has employed only 18 people and produced zero cars. According to the Washington Times, “McAuliffe says he resigned from GreenTech before December 1 last year, though his resignation was announced only three months ago.”
Cuccinelli has also said McAuliffe is “against coal,” a position the AG says will cost the state jobs. Since saying in 2009 that he wants to “move past coal,” and “never wants another coal plant built,” McAuliffe has changed his stance on the coal industry, saying at a campaign stop, “We need to make sure we do what we need to, to make sure this vital industry here in Virginia continues to grow. As governor, I want to help them create more jobs to help exports around the world.”
McAuliffe is seeking to negate his challenger’s credibility by calling attention to an independent investigation being made by Democratic state senator Phil Puckett into Cuccinelli’s connections to out-of-state energy companies, now in a dispute with Va. residents. According to Cuccinelli’s camp, Puckett has a financial interest in the case.
Cuccinelli’s campaign is in danger of further tarnish through its association to McDonnell, who is accused of bribery for failing to disclose fully the extent of gifts received from wealthy political donors. Cuccinelli has dismissed the scandals as a “distraction.”
Virginia is a moderate state with left-wing leanings. Cuccinelli, dubbed a conservative “extremist” for his stance on social issues, has received high-marks already from his electorate for his job as attorney general. McAuliffe, on the other hand, may appeal to social liberals who helped make the Old Dominion State go blue twice for Obama.
McAuliffe and Cuccinelli are tied according to RealClearPolitics polling. Expect many more contrived controversies and much more political hay in the weeks to come.