‘As Governor, I never want another coal plant built!’

by Jim Geraghty

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli will attend the Virginia Energy & Opportunity Forum Thursday — not quite a debate, but we can safely expect the two gubernatorial candidates to take shots at each other.

The Republican party of Virginia is putting the spotlight on McAuliffe’s once staunchly left view on energy production, particularly coal. McAuliffe has shifted to the center . . . and environmentalists don’t really care, apparently:

The same can’t always be said for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, the former political fundraiser for Bill Clinton and the ex-chair of Democratic National Committee. McAuliffe is benefiting from green group spending against Cuccinelli, and has made campaign appearances with scientist Mann. But he’s also flip-flopped from his former positions on energy, and has been noncommittal about President Obama’s sweeping new climate plan. In an unsuccessful 2009 bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, McAuliffe said he opposed drilling for oil off Virginia’s coast, and said that as governor, “he never want[ed] another coal plant built.” This year, running in the general election, he’s effectively reversed both of those positions, endorsing offshore oil drilling and new coal production — while taking campaign contributions from a Virginia coal company. The website Politifact rated McAuliffe’s turnarounds on both coal and offshore drilling “a full Flop.”

It’s not that environmentalists see McAuliffe as a green crusader. McAuliffe — a self-described “hustler” — made his name as a political operative rather than a champion of policy. Instead, they’re focused on ensuring that Cuccinelli, whom they see as an influential threat to efforts to combat climate change, doesn’t take the governorship.

Expect to see more of this video of a 2009 Democratic primary gubernatorial debate, where McAuliffe declared, “I want to move past coal. As Governor, I never want another coal plant built.”

The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.