Tags: Terry McAuliffe

Washington Post Belatedly Realizes Who Terry McAuliffe Is


From the Washington Post editorial board’s endorsement of Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia, October 12:

There is no disguising that Mr. McAuliffe, a self-described wheeler-dealer who burst on to the national stage as a prodigious fundraiser for Bill Clinton in the 1990s, lacks the close engagement with policy possessed by Virginia’s recent governors. The ultimate political insider, his stock in trade has been playing the angles where access and profit intersect.

Nonetheless, as a candidate for governor Mr. McAuliffe has taken sensible stands on key issues, and he has had the political savvy to stay mostly on message. Critically, he embraced the transportation funding bill enacted by a bipartisan majority of the General Assembly this year, a measure that will ensure that the state’s roads and rails keep pace with a 21st-century economy.

That same editorial board, beginning to realize what they have done, this weekend:

IT’S HARD to think of a more tone-deaf political move lately than Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s unveiling of his Common Good Virginia PAC, which peddles dinners and sit downs with Mr. McAuliffe, a Democrat, his wife and unnamed “policy experts” for fat cats with a policy agenda for fees reaching $100,000.

Of all people, in all places and at all times, Mr. McAuliffe in Virginia right now is about the worst combination we can think of for this particular brand of fundraising. If Mr. McAuliffe, after fewer than three months in office, is intent on opening fire at his own feet, he’s seized on an effective way to do it.

Wait a minute! You guys assured us he had “the political savvy to stay mostly on message”! How can you be surprised that he’s now “playing the angles where access and profit intersect”?

ABOVE: Terry McAuliffe in 2008, a bit before he came to Richmond
to restore honor, dignity, and decency to Virginia state politics.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Washington Post , Virginia

Governor Spuds McKenzie, Now Partying in Richmond


Campaign Spot, March 13, 2013: “He is a ‘party animal’ in every sense of the word. . . . Terry McAuliffe is like a human Spuds McKenzie!”

Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, today:“Sixty parties in 60 days!”

Tags: Terry McAuliffe

What Ed Gillespie Brings to Virginia’s Senate Race


What does 2014 hold for Ed Gillespie, and his hopes of beating incumbent Democratic senator Mark Warner?

Could Gillespie fall flat on his face as a Senate candidate? Theoretically; Virginia’s current governor, Terry McAuliffe, will tell you& it’s one thing to be a party chairman and another thing to run for office. McAuliffe stumbled badly in his first bid for governor in 2009, spending $8.2 million to win 26 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary.

But it’s more likely Gillespie adjusts to life as a candidate pretty handily. Gillespie is familiar with appearing on national television, and debated McAuliffe on stage when the pair were opposing party chairmen. He’s worked in the policy realm at the White House as counselor. He’s got an extensive network of potential donors from his days running the Republican National Committee and chairing the Republican State Legislative Committee. He’ll have all kinds of big GOP names in for rallies and fundraisers. (Gillespie was a senior adviser to the Romney campaign and was communications director for John Kasich’s short-lived 2000 presidential campaign.) He’s got a local network of supporters and potential donors from chairing Bob McDonnell’s campaign in 2009.

The floor for a solid Republican campaign in a midterm election is probably around Ken Cuccinelli’s 45.2 percent. (With no third-party option in the state attorney-general race, Republican Mark Obenshain won 49.8 percent, losing by less than 200 votes with 2.2 million cast.) It’s quite possible Gillespie wins, particularly if Warner’s centrist image and rhetoric are contrasted with his reliably Democratic voting record — Warner’s lifetime ACU rating is 12.5 out of a possible 100. Gillespie won’t get drastically outspent the way Cuccinelli did.

It’s also easy to picture Gilespie doing well, but falling short of a majority against Warner — Democrats will pull out all the stops to protect their incumbent in a state McAuliffe won and Obama carried twice.

If Gillespie does not win, but comes close, he’ll set himself up as a solid GOP candidate in the next statewide race, the one for governor in 2017.

Tags: Ed Gillespie , Terry McAuliffe , Virginia , Mark Warner

Look Who’s Getting a Job From Governor McAuliffe!


Boyd Marcus, a veteran Republican strategist, endorsed Democrat Terry McAuliffe last August. Today Governor McAuliffe announced he would appoint Marcus to the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Board — “a plum, six-figure-a-year state job.”

Today Pat Mullins, the chairman of the Republican party of Virginia, issued a statement: “Let me be the first to offer my congratulations to Boyd Marcus on his appointment to the Virginia ABC Board. It’s nice to know the exchange rate for 30 pieces of silver these days is about $122,000 per year plus benefits.”

Tags: Boyd Marcus , Terry McAuliffe , Pat Mullins

Will McAuliffe Be Deposed in GreenTech Libel Suit?


This weekend, Terry McAuliffe became the 72nd governor of Virginia. It’s still possible that sometime in the coming year, McAuliffe may have to interrupt his work as governor to be deposed as part of his auto company’s libel lawsuit against an investigative-journalism foundation.

GreenTech Automotive, a company founded by McAuliffe, remains in a holding pattern in its libel suit against the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative-journalism organization, and its website, The company is seeking $85 million in damages. wrote an eight-part series on GreenTech, its relationship with the Virginia and Mississippi state governments, and McAuliffe.

The lawsuit asserts that the articles “materially injured” GreenTech’s ability to raise capital:

Specifically, as a direct and express result of the articles published by Defendants . . . investors are wavering in their commitment to provide $25 million in investments already promised to GTA. GTA . . . intended to raise $60 million in capital, [and] is now in significant danger as a direct result of the loss of investor confidence in GTA arising from the publication of Defendants’ articles.

Franklin Center countered the lawsuit was a “SLAPP” suit — a “strategic lawsuit against public participation,” a form of harassment designed to silence a critic by imposing massive legal fees and hassles.

“GreenTech’s lawsuit against the Franklin Center is baseless political bullying in an attempt to silence the free press,” said Jason Stverak, president of the Franklin Center. “Our reporters raised legitimate questions about GreenTech’s questionable business practices and Governor McAuliffe’s role through honest, investigative reporting and we’ve continued to pursue the truth despite intimidation from the company. There is no doubt in my mind that this lawsuit should be dismissed in good time.”

Lawyers for the Franklin Center filed a motion to dismiss last year, and on June 25, U.S. Magistrate Judge Jane Verden issued a stay — meaning a delay of further proceedings — pending the ruling on the motion to dismiss.

“As Terry McAuliffe begins his term as governor, I can’t imagine he wants to spend his afternoons stuck in depositions,” Stverak said.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Franklin Center , GreenTech Automotive

Does the RNC Deserve the Blame for Cuccinelli’s Loss?


Arguments in favor of blaming the Republican National Committee for Ken Cuccinelli’s defeat:

* At the end of September, the RNC had $11.2 million in cash on hand.

* The RNC spent $3 million in Virginia developing its “precinct team model” instead of television advertising, where Cuccinelli was getting creamed every commercial break.

* The RNC spent $1.5 million in New Jersey in a race Christie was certain to win anyway, including a half-million dollars on minorities who were open to voting Republican.

Arguments against blaming the Republican National Committee for Ken Cuccinelli’s defeat:

* Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign was always likely to be outspent by Terry McAuliffe, but he and his campaign had to try to keep the margin as close as possible. Instead, the gap became gargantuan, $15 million. To his credit, Cuccinelli raised only slightly less than McDonnell raised four years ago, $20 million to McDonnell’s $21 million.

* If the polling had shown a closer race, the RNC undoubtedly would have committed more money. But only two out of 25 polls conducted in Virginia since mid-September showed McAuliffe leading by less than 5 points. Most had the Democrat leading by 7 to 9 points.

* The $9 million that the RNC spent on behalf of Bob McDonnell in 2009 was part of the Michael Steele’s big-borrowing, big-spending era, which took the committee from $23 million in the bank at the beginning of 2009 (mostly from transfers from unused funds of the McCain-Palin campaign) to $22 million in debt. Today the RNC has no debt.

* The RNC is a “hard money” institution, meaning there are limits on how much a donor can give. Virginia’s laws limiting donations and activity is much more lax, meaning both Cuccinelli and the state party were free to accept much larger donations. At any point, any wealthy Republican billionaire could have written a check for $10 million helping out Cuccinelli. For example, Bill Clinton wrote a check for $100,000 to McAuliffe.

* Next year, the RNC faces a gargantuan lift. There are a good half-dozen or so competitive Senate races against Democrat incumbents (Alaska, Arkansas, perhaps Colorado, Louisiana, possibly Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Carolina, possibly Oregon, possibly Virginia), open-seat Senate races in Iowa, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota, and West Virginia, and potentially vulnerable Senate incumbents to defend in Kentucky and Maine. Then they have competitive gubernatorial races against Democrat incumbents in Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, and perhaps a few others, open-seat gubernatorial races in Arizona, Arkansas, Massachusetts, and Nebraska, and vulnerable gubernatorial incumbents to defend in Florida, Maine, Michigan, possibly Nevada, possibly New Mexico, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. And then there are the House races. Put simply, there are only so many races where the RNC can commit $5 million to 10 million.

* According to, the DNC spent nothing or (depending on some late filing of forms) next to nothing on McAuliffe.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , RNC , Reince Priebus , Terry McAuliffe

It’s the Morning After. Firing Squad, Assume Circular Formation!


Woke up this morning with a headache and a blue moon in my eyes. From the Morning Jolt:

Ken Cuccinelli, Finishing Better Than Anyone Expected . . . for Whatever That’s Worth.

Boy, it’s too bad elections don’t have point spreads, huh?

Late last night, Kristina Ribali of FreedomWorks asked, “Cuccinelli did better than Romney, right?”

It depends upon your measuring stick. Cuccinelli finished closer than Romney, but won a smaller share of the vote. Obama won, 51.1 percent to 47.28 percent. At this hour, McAuliffe won, 48 percent to 45.5 percent.

At some point, accounting for all the variables gets maddening. Cuccinelli was drastically outspent . . . but he had a worse opponent. It’s an off-year election, with lower turnout that traditionally is an advantage for Republicans . . . but he had to run away from the incumbent because of Governor Bob McDonnell’s gift scandal.

Then again, maybe he shouldn’t have, judging from CNN’s exit poll: “Virginia voters actually approve of McDonnell’s job performance by 12 points (53%-41%).”

Cuccinelli indisputably was hurt by the government shutdown . . . but then he indisputably was helped by running against Obamacare in the closing days.

As Tuesday night wore on, the Republican firing squad assumed its traditional circular formation. Here’s a scorecard of the scapegoats:

It was the RNC’s fault! On Twitter, a lot of folks were calling for Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus’s blood, noting that the RNC spent $3 million helping Cuccinelli this year after spending $9 million to help Bob McDonnell in 2009. The RNC’s had a better year than its Democratic counterpart, raising about $60.9 million this year, compared to $47 million for the DNC (and the DNC still has $17 million in unpaid debt from last year).

Here’s the short version of the RNC’s summary of what they did to help Cuccinelli:

In Virginia, the RNC has nearly 50 offices, significantly more than we had in the state during the 2012 presidential cycle and a comparable number of staff…

In Virginia, we already have gathered more than twice the amount of voter data.

We have also served as a resource to the campaigns up and down the ballot. For example, we have conducted both mainstream and ethnic media training efforts with Cuccinelli, Obenshain, Dels. Rust, Comstock, and Hugo as well as Freddy Burgos, who is a challenger in the 41st District.

The RNC has a total of seven paid staffers dedicated to engaging minority communities and have attended numerous events on behalf of the Republican Party. The RNC has also done significant paid print, radio, and TV advertising in ethnic media outlets on behalf of candidates.

Was that enough?

Keep in mind, this race has looked pretty tough for Cuccinelli since at least midsummer. How much money do Republicans want the RNC throwing in to help a candidate trailing by 7 or 8 or 9 points?

I’ll tell you this: if Cuccinelli had been within two or three points consistently this fall, the RNC would have spent a heck of a lot more money than it did. The problem is that from about mid-summer until, oh, one hour after the polls closed, Ken Cuccinelli looked like a dead man walking in this race. Bad polls, quiet debate performances, brutal coverage, an inability to capitalize on tough coverage of McAuliffe’s scandals . . . 

It’s Cuccinelli’s fault! Earlier this week, I said you can’t get outspent by $15 million and win a statewide race. Apparently I should have added an asterisk and said you can keep it close. Cuccinelli got a lot of help from right-leaning groups; a fair question is whether he raised enough himself to keep himself in the ballpark with McAuliffe: the Republican Governors Association spent $8 million to help Cuccinelli. The NRA Political Victory Fund kicked in $600,000. Focus on the Family, $238,000.

As an attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli rarely ducked a fight and in fact picked fights that some Republicans might have avoided. The problem was that he didn’t want to run for reelection as that guy. Of course, Terry McAuliffe’s ad team was determined to turn Cuccinelli into a horrific funhouse mirror-version of that guy.

From Ben Domenech, a.k.a., that guy who writes that other newsletter:

Cuccinelli had the baggage of his past fights which the left used very well. This is true of Cuccinelli’s fights on marriage, abortion, climate, but particularly true of the issue of his defense of a sodomy statute on the books in Virginia. I doubt Cuccinelli ever realized how big of a liability this would be, but again, he’d have been better off defending himself vocally than shying away from it. Gay Republicans openly compared Cuccinelli to David Duke, and the indication that Cuccinelli wants to go around rounding up people for engaging in consensual sex was ubiquitous to any conversation about him on social media. Of course, in my county, there are nine convicted child abusers and sex offenders who were convicted under the statute, and I’d like to know which ones of them deserve to go off the books . . . but that defense was never offered.

It was the Libertarians’ fault! Let’s get one thing straight: A big chunk of Robert Sarvis’s voters aren’t really libertarians, or they don’t fit a definition you and I would offer for that philosophy. As Biased Girl and I have observed, some sub-segment of standard-issue liberals are self-identifying as libertarians, sort of a political hipsterism. They get to keep all of their usual liberal views on social issues, support smaller government in theory but never in practice, complain about taxes, and act like they’re so much more sophisticated than everyone else.

Jonah Goldberg’s self-proclaimed “socially liberal, fiscally conservative” friend “Bob” fits this description.

Sarvis’ voters are young – he got 15 percent of voters between 18 and 29. He took 15 percent of those who self-identified as “independents,” 8 percent of those who identified as moderate or liberal Republicans, and 4 percent of those who self-identify as liberal Democrats. Among those who said they “somewhat oppose” Obamacare, he took 17 percent; among those who said they “somewhat support” Obamacare, he took 10 percent.

One glitch in the theory from the exit polling:

Libertarian Robert Sarvis, may have made it closer for McAuliffe than it would have been otherwise. Had he not been on the ballot, a third of his voters said they’d have supported McAuliffe – slightly more than twice as many as said they’d have gone for Cuccinelli.

It’s the Tea Party’s fault! Under this narrative, Chris Christie won because he’s a moderate, Cuccinelli lost because he’s a scary Tea Partier, and New York is now run by the Sandinistas because the country is rejecting conservatism in all its forms.

There’s a molecule of truth to those arguments; perhaps more significant to Tea Partiers is the result in that special U.S. House election in Alabama:

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, Bradley Byrne, a staid former state senator, led Dean Young, a conservative real estate developer who likened himself to Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.

But then you look down ticket, and you see the candidate on the Right beating the candidate on the Left over and over again. You see it in the Virginia House of Delegates elections . . . where Republicans won 67 out of 100 seats.

You see it in Colorado’s referenda on tax hikes for education . . . 

Voters emphatically rejected a $950 million tax increase and the school funding revamp that came with it, handing Amendment 66 a resounding defeat Tuesday night.

. . . and you see it in New York outside of the city

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino gave his victory speech a few minutes before 11 p.m. Tuesday night, according to the Journal News. At midnight, the incumbent had 55 percent of the vote with more than half of precincts reporting. Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano also declared victory, claiming 60 percent of the vote, Newsday reported.

Astorino has been floated as a possible challenger for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and although he’ll face a significant fundraising challenge and the governor’s relatively high popularity, his win in the affluent suburb where Democrats have a 2-to-1 enrollment advantage shows he has cross-party appeal.

And we’ll be playing woulda-coulda-shoulda for a few weeks. High among them: Would Cuccinelli have reversed these results with another couple of weeks of brutal coverage of Obamacare’s rollout?

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , RNC , Chris Christie , Libertarians , Tea Party

What Kind of Turnout Will Virginia See Tuesday?


A small reason for Republican hope in Virginia: In 2009, Bob McDonnell’s margin of victory was 4 percentage points larger than the RealClearPolitics average — 17.5 points, instead of 13.4 points.

McAuliffe currently leads in the RCP average by 8.4 points. Quinnipiac created a stir in the race earlier this week when they showed McAuliffe leading by only 4 points.

There are two differing schools of thought on how big the turnout will be. NBC News looks at history and contemplates lower turnout than 2009’s 40 percent:

Turnout has dipped only twice from the previous election — in 1985 and 1997. Interestingly, those two elections featured candidates who didn’t become household names for the long haul (Baliles and Gilmore), and they came after presidential RE-ELECTs. Will we end up adding 2013 to that list?

Another analyst thinks last cycle was the floor:

Geoffrey Skelley, an analyst and spokesman for the University of Virginia Center for Politics, said off-cycle elections like the commonwealth’s gubernatorial race have seen a steady drop in voter participation since 1997. But he believes the roughly 40-percent turnout in 2009 was an aberration.

“I think we’ll see somewhere between the 2005 [45-percent] mark and 2009,” Skelley said. “One of the reasons turnout was that low last time was that it was a 17-point blowout. It looks like McAuliffe may win by 10 or more points by Election Day, but that’s not quite at the same level.”

And the Washington Post’s poll contended that turnout will favor the Democrats:

The poll finds McAuliffe with a substantial lead across a variety of high- and low-turnout scenarios. Among all registered voters, McAuliffe’s supporters are slightly more apt to say they are “absolutely certain” they will go to the polls than Cuccinelli’s.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe , Virginia

Want to Win a Big Statewide Race? Don’t Get Outspent by $4 Million.


From my article on the state of the Virginia governor’s race, Wednesday: “If you lose the spending war on the airwaves, you’re likely to lose on Election Day.”

New data:

Since the government shutdown, Democrat Terry McAuliffe has outspent Republican Ken Cuccinelli 2-to-1 on the airwaves.

In the last two weeks, pro-McAuliffe groups have doubled Cuccinelli and his allies $2.2 million to $1.1 million, according to an analysis by SMG Delta, which tracks broadcast, cable, and radio advertising for Republican campaigns. “We have been on the air. We have not run out of money,” said a top Cuccinelli strategist, who acknowledged, “But this much is true — we are getting outspent 2-1.”

Overall, the McAuliffe campaign and pro-McAuliffe groups have outspent Cuccinelli and his allies $12.5 million to $8.4 million on the air since the beginning of the campaign, per SMG Delta.

Some of the blame for this is on Cuccinelli, who told me earlier this year that he had always been outspent in his previous successful state legislative and state attorney-general campaigns, and that he was confident he could overcome the same advantage this year. Clearly, that confidence was misplaced. Some is on his campaign, which needed to realize how McAuliffe was ready to turn the campaign into a spending race as early as May and adjust accordingly. Some of the fault lies with the GOP’s big-time donors. And some of the blame falls on the grassroots, who frequently complain that the Republican party doesn’t nominate sufficiently conservative nominees, but who have failed to pull out all the stops on an undeniably conservative candidate in a state Republicans swept by large margins four years ago.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , Virginia

Does McAuliffe Even Understand the EPA’s New Rules for Coal Plants?



Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday that he supports new Environmental Protection Agency rules on carbon emissions, taking a clear stance for the first time on an issue that has become a key flashpoint in the Virginia governor’s race.

The EPA unveiled guidelines two weeks ago that would limit the amount of carbon that future coal- and gas-fired plants can emit into the atmosphere, likely making it difficult for any new coal-powered plants to be built. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for governor, has said the rules would be devastating to Virginia’s coal industry, and has accused McAuliffe (D) of being an accomplice to the Obama administration’s alleged “war on coal.”

Lachlan Markay put together this map of where the country’s major coal mines are, and where the EPA’s “listening sessions” about the rules new were held:

As you’ll notice, the sites of the mines and the “listening sessions” weren’t near each other. If you wanted to ensure that no one who actually works in mining weighed in at these “listening sessions,” this is pretty much how you would do it.

The only listening session near Virginia occurred in Washington, D.C.; the Buchanan Number One mine, in Buchanan County, Virginia, is a 400-mile drive away from the nation’s capital. That mine has been in operation for 30 years, employs 627 people, and produces 4.5 million tons of coal per year.

In McAuliffe’s defense, there’s always the possibility that he doesn’t really know what he’s talking about, and is just winging it again:

Asked about the issue again Tuesday during a tour of the Tyson’s Corner technology firm MicroTech, McAuliffe initially avoided a clear position again, saying: “I think we have to look at when the permits [for new coal plants] come in and look at how it applies and what the regulations are.”

When a reporter pressed McAuliffe on whether he supports the guidelines “as they are written right now,” McAuliffe responded: “I do, you bet. What I’ve looked at, I support what we need to do to obviously protect our air and our water.”

“I think we have to look at it” isn’t, technically, a position.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , EPA , Coal

A Dull Debate, Recycling Tired Attack Lines


Also from today’s Morning Jolt:

If You Missed Last Night’s Virginia Gubernatorial Debate . . . Good for You!

So why did Terry McAuliffe run for governor?

His main job since the mid-1990s has been to be Bill Clinton’s buddy. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that — you get to play a lot of golf, meet a lot of wealthy, interesting people, and people are eager to do business with you, because they figure someday you’ll invite them to hang around with the president and Hillary, too. (Yes, McAuliffe was DNC chair for his party’s sterling period from 2001 to 2005.) Consciously or not, he’s like Doug Band — selling, or at least trading access to the former president and the likely 2012 Democratic presidential candidate.

Terry McAuliffe has never been a policy wonk. He’s a passionate partisan — again, nothing inherently wrong with that; functioning political parties need passionate partisans to work in their ranks, fire up the crowd, and raise the money. But his political philosophy is simply, “my guys are right, and the other guys are wrong.” It’s hard to find a time he strongly disagreed with his own party; he apparently disagreed with his party on gun control back when he was DNC chair, but his opposition didn’t seem to have much influence or effect. And now he’s running on gun control this year, calculating that stance will help him more in the D.C. suburbs than it will hurt him downstate.

Every time McAuliffe whiffs a candidate event because he didn’t do the homework, it confirms the suspicion that McAuliffe wants the job of governor . . . just because he wants to be taken seriously, and not just seen as “the money guy.” But apparently he doesn’t want the job badly enough to actually study the issues.

Wednesday night’s debate offered lines and arguments that are extremely familiar — hell, let’s just say, exhaustingly tired and worn out — to anyone who’s been paying attention to this race.

McAuliffe, who has spent his life’s work as a Democratic party fundraiser and operative, pitched himself as the voice of bipartisanship in Virginia. He, who has done more to connect wealthy donors and lawmakers than perhaps any other man in American history, lambasted his rival for taking $18,000 in gifts from a wealthy owner of a medical supplement company. He, who has dumped a large fortune on negative ads, decried the negative tone of the campaign. McAuliffe, who spent much of 2012 insisting Mitt Romney had to release his tax returns, said he had done enough by releasing summaries of his finances for the past few years.

But McAuliffe was able to hide his not-gonna-worry-about-the-details approach to policy for most of the night. Debates only require candidates to remember a couple of talking points on each issue, and Terry McAuliffe can do that quite well. You can almost see him checking the boxes in his mind: Nanotechnology, community colleges, invest in education . . . mention the family . . .  “His tax cuts will mean financial ruin for the state.” We need to invest. Invest. Invest, invest, invest.

Credit where it’s due, McAuliffe avoided lapsing into old habits and telling voters they could qualify for an HB-5 visa if they invested $500,000 in GreenTech Automotive.

But I can see why Ken Cuccinelli is trailing this race. His persona on the stump is even-keeled to the point of boredom. I suspect that if any undecided voters were tuned in to NBC at 7 p.m. last night, they found Cuccinelli robot-like, reminiscent of the early Mitt Romney models.

I wasn’t thrilled with Cuccinelli’s answer on why he accepted $18,000 in gifts from Johnny Williams. Cuccinelli emphasized that he realized he had failed to report the gifts and alerted state authorities, and asked whether anyone believed McAuliffe would do the same in those circumstances.

But most of us will never get a gift, or a group of gifts, worth $18,000 from someone we don’t know that well, or even from our closest of friends. McAuliffe’s gift attack suggests to low-information voters that Cuccinelli works in a world where fabulously wealthy well-connected businessmen and grifters throw around money to ensure government policies protect their interests — which is pretty much the world of McAuliffe’s entire adult life.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli

Finally, a Sequel to ‘Lincoln’


Finally, the Oscar-winning historical drama Lincoln gets a sequel . . . sort of:

You’re going to want to watch to the very end.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe

Richmond Times-Dispatch: McAuliffe Is a ‘Deeply Unserious’ Candidate


The Richmond Times-Dispatch hasn’t endorsed in the Virginia governor’s race yet. But after Sunday’s editorial . . . we can guess who they’re NOT endorsing:

When it comes to raking together piles of cash, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is without peer. On questions of actual governance, though, his troubling lack of mastery and odd flippancy combine to paint a portrait of a deeply unserious candidate.

The editorial goes on to describe McAuliffe’s refusal to name the positions in the governor’s Cabinet; his dismissal of questions from Northern Virginia Technology Council’s Tech PAC (the group subsequently endorsed Ken Cuccinelli), and his recent claim that as governor he can issue “guidance opinions” that would largely nullify existing state regulations on abortion clinics. The editors and Virginia legal experts contend the governor doesn’t actually have the “guidance opinion” authority McAuliffe describes.

The editors conclude, “Taken individually, none of these episodes is terribly damaging. But taken together, they add up to the impression that, despite four years of prep work after his last gubernatorial run, McAuliffe still isn’t ready for the office he seeks.”

The Times-Dispatch endorsed McDonnell in 2009 and is seen as GOP-leaning, so a Cuccinelli endorsement wouldn’t be shocking good news. (This, of course, presumes that newspaper endorsements matter at all.) But it will be particularly fun to see if the Washington Post, king of the Northern Virginia circulation area, even bothers to address the concern that McAuliffe isn’t really that familiar with the office of governor and isn’t sweating the details of the job he hopes to win.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli

Remember Last Year, When a Candidate’s Tax Returns Mattered?


Dear mainstream media, 

If you wanted to know why more and more Americans don’t think of you as something they read or watch, and increasingly think of you as something they step in, one big reason is the ludicrous double-standards you have for Republican and Democrat candidates.

In January 2012, Mitt Romney released his 2010 tax return; in September, he released his 2011 return after filing for an extension. 

For much of last year’s presidential campaign, the tax returns for the preceding and most recent year were treated as a huge pressing issue for the wealthy candidate. Romney’s tax returns warranted segments on CNN, segments on Meet the Press, the roundtable on ABC’s This Week, and the roundtable on PBS NewshourCNN and Gallup asked questions about it in their surveys. Obviously MSNBC hosts treated his tax returns as if they contained the location the Lost City of Atlantis in them. Obama surrogates and Romney surrogates were asked about it. Ann Romney was asked about it on NBC’s Rock Center. Romney was asked about it in interview after interview. The Obama campaign put out plenty of “what is he hiding?” ads. To ensure the low-information voters heard about it, The Daily Show and Funny or Die did segments on Romney’s delay in releasing his tax returns. 

The calls for Romney to release more of his tax returns became an all-out crusade, and deemed one of the major issues of the campaign. Because openness, financial transparency, and accountability are important in evaluating candidates for higher office, right?

This year, the Democrats’ candidate for Senate in New Jersey, Newark Mayor Cory Booker allowed their hand-picked reporters to look at his tax returns for three hours, with no copies or photographs:

Newark mayor Cory Booker, who hopes to be New Jersey’s next senator, claims to have “released” 15 years’ worth of his tax returns in what his campaign trumpeted as a “historic gesture of transparency.” Perhaps the mayor should consult T-Bone or another of his possibly imaginary felonious friends about the definition of “release.” The mayor’s tax returns remain locked up, though they were allowed a conjugal visit with the press: Nine reporters, all hand-picked by the Booker campaign, were permitted three hours with the documents in a hotel ballroom in Newark — no photographs, no copies, no removing documents from the room, resulting in what one of the reporters present described as a mad scramble to record information as the clock ticked to zero.

In Virginia, the Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe still hasn’t released any of his tax returns; choosing to release summaries of his financial information

Booker and McAuliffe are two wealthy guys, with lots of business ties to companies that have business before the Newark city government and Virginia state government. The possibility of conflict-of-interest or financial misdeeds is at least as great for these two as it was for Romney. 

And yet neither Booker nor McAuliffe have received even one-hundreth of the grief Romney received from their local or state press.

And we know why this is. The mainstream press cares about the tax returns and financial disclosures of Republican candidates and doesn’t care about the tax returns and financial disclosures of Democrat candidates, because Republicans are the bad guys and Democrats are the good guys.

If I’m wrong, prove me wrong, mainstream media.


Tags: Mitt Romney , Tax Returns , Terry McAuliffe , Cory Booker

A Sobering Anecdote About McAuliffe’s Persuasiveness


The Washington Post, describing Terry McAuliffe’s meeting with Virginia business leaders:

Two people present said that in response to a question about how he’d accomplish his goals as governor, McAuliffe told the PAC board that as an Irish Catholic he’d be adept at taking people out for drinks and doing whatever it takes to get things done.

To McAuliffe’s credit, truth is a defense.

Terry McAuliffe: He’ll get you to do things you would never do sober.

McAuliffe Rum on Make A Gif

Tags: Terry McAuliffe

The Predictable Tone of the Post’s Virginia Editorials


Ken Cuccinelli’s gubernatorial campaign is cheered by this coverage in today’s Washington Post:

The speeches [at the Virginia Summit on Economic Competitiveness and Higher Education] fed into the narrative that emerged from the TechPAC flap: that McAuliffe is breezy while Cuccinelli grasps the details and gravity of the job. Both candidates had 45 minutes to address the group. Cuccinelli gave a 39- minute address heavy on wonky details. McAuliffe gave his standard 16-minute stump speech.

Cuccinelli’s campaign sent out a release asking, “Has Terry McAuliffe lost the Washington Post?”

Let me help them with that: “No.”

I would love to be proven wrong, but the editorial board has torn apart Cuccinelli for the past four years, and detests him in a way few Republicans can match. We can predict what the Post’s endorsement editorial will say:

McAuliffe’s inability to discuss the details of his policies is troubling, as is his past characterization of the ease of electing a governor based upon the ability to distribute government contracts to supporters. But in his sensible support of sufficient funding for the state’s needs (read, tax increases) coupled with his sensible centrist position on social issues (read, never going to touch any restriction on abortion of any kind with a ten-foot pole) make him the clear choice for Virginia.

And if the Washington Post editorial board wants to endorse candidates based on a litmus test of higher taxes, higher spending, and abortion-on-demand, that’s their right. It would just be preferable if they were honest about it, and that they could admit that those issues rank higher in their criteria than say, ethics, or experience, or a genuine plan to ensure the state’s economic health, instead of seeing the state government as a giant prize bag to be used to reward donors . . . 

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , Virginia

RGA Launches ‘liePad by Mack’


The Republican Governors Association is launching a new effort in the Virginia governor’s race: “liePad by Mack.”

The RGA promises a “new weekly web video series, a new website that houses all of McAuliffe’s lies to keep them straight, and a paid-media effort of advertising online through digital media and radio ads.”

The new effort sounds . . . “Siri”-us.

Tags: GreenTech , RGA , Terry McAuliffe

The Big Guy and the Little Guy in Virginia


In Richard Wolffe’s new book about Obama’s reelection campaign, The Message: The Reselling of President Obama, he quotes David Axelrod on what he was hearing in focus groups in early 2011:

“When you hear people talk, you feel two things,” he said at the outset of his campaign. “When you think about the average middle-class American, what they feel is that above them they see people getting bailouts. Below them they see people getting handouts. And they feel that they are on their own. They feel they are working hard and they’re not getting a fair shake, and other people aren’t doing their fair share.”

This is not a new theme in American politics; a few pages earlier, Wolffe quotes Clinton’s convention speech in 1992: “Those who play by the rules and keep the faith have gotten the shaft, and those who cut corners and cut deals have been rewarded.”

It’s a resonant theme, and it’s unlikely that it’s any less powerful today than it was in 2011 or 1992 — the percentage of Americans in the workforce, 63.2 percent, is the lowest in 35 years. About 75 percent of the 1 million new jobs created this year are part-time. Wages have barely budged in the past five years. Meanwhile, corporate profits are up 42 percent from 2007, and the stock market has spent much of the year at new highs.

Times remain hard for a lot of people, and there are still plenty of vivid stories of greed, selfishness, arrogance, and unethical behavior at the highest levels:  “Too big to fail” banks that are bigger than before the crash. Bernie Madoff. The gobs of taxpayer money that went to Solyndra. Jesse Jackson Jr. spending his campaign money on expensive gifts for himself. The General Services Administration spending oodles on fancy conferences in Las Vegas. Tina Brown’s charity spending most of its money on parties. Finally, there’s Virginia governor Bob McDonnell, throwing away his political future for a bunch of expensive gifts from Jonnie Williams, the CEO of a nutritional supplement maker.

Here in Virginia, the site of the only competitive statewide race in 2013, there’s an extreme contrast between the two choices . . . and yet the polls suggest Virginians are about to choose the rich guy whose whole career has been built on connecting wealthy donors to politicians over the candidate who’s spent a good chunk of his life fighting for the littlest of guys.

Ken Cuccinelli can make a strong case that he’s done more for the “little guy” in this state and this country than Terry McAuliffe will ever do.

You don’t get a lot of credit for hiring a guy wrongfully convicted of rape to do clerical work in your office, to help him get back on his feet.

You don’t get a lot of credit for working in food banks and working with groups providing mental-health treatment for Richmond’s homeless, and then donating $100,000 to the group.

You don’t get a lot of credit for leading a protest and forcing the University of Virginia to hire a full-time coordinator to prevent and address sexual assault on campus. In fact, decades later, your opponent will run ads suggesting you hate women.

You don’t get a lot of credit for taking on your largest donor, Dominion Virginia Power, in court and limiting their ability to raise rates for consumers.

Cuccinelli is the “little guy” in this race. For the past eight years, Ken Cuccinelli has earned between $134,000 and $264,000 before taxes. That may seem like a lot, and it is a lot, to most people . . . but remember Cuccinelli has seven kids, and sends his older children to Catholic school.  (The Cuccinellis home-school their children through sixth grade.) He drives a minivan.

By contrast, McAuliffe earned $8.2 million in 2011, $1.8 million in 2010, and $6.5 million in 2009. His 7,000-square-foot, seven-bedroom, seven-and-a-half-bathroom house in McLean was purchased in 1992 for $1.1 million ($3.3 million today). He’s made his money through his own businesses and investments, when not serving as finance chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, finance chairman for the Dick Gephardt for President 1988 campaign, national finance chairman and then national co-chairman of the Clinton-Gore campaign, and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

As the New York Times noted, McAuliffe “usually conducted business at restaurants like the Palm and the Oval Room,” and he has his own regular table at Georgetown’s Café Milano. (Apparently in 2008, McAuliffe caused a scene at The Palm, declaring “at the top of his lungs: ‘No one does porn like me.’” ) In his autobiography, he declared, “Let me tell you, it’s a lot easier to raise money for a governor. They have all kinds of business to hand out, road contracts, construction jobs, you name it.”

Look, fellow Virginians, I understand the reticence about Cuccinelli. I doubt he or his campaign will be offended if I declare the man is not a whirling dervish of raw political charisma. He’s Joe Friday. If you needed a lawyer, you would want Ken Cuccinelli. If you wanted a fun neighbor down the street who would invite you to raucous parties with famous people, you would want Terry McAuliffe.

That, in a nutshell, is what drove Democratic strategist Dave “Mudcat” Saunders to announce he’ll be voting for Cuccinelli.

“I just can’t sit here anymore and watch this coin-operated government continue. Wouldn’t I be a hypocrite if I came to Richmond last year and jumped on Eric Cantor for it and then came back and supported Terry McAuliffe?”

Saunders said he and Cuccinelli agree “on matters of economic fairness” and share concerns about the middle class.

“I’ve just got to vote for my people,” rural people and urban people, Saunders said. “Our part of Virginia looks like Sherman went through it and didn’t burn anything. It’s due to these corporatist Washington policies.”

The choice doesn’t get much clearer, Virginia. 

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , Barack Obama , Virginia

Should Syria Matter in the Virginia Governor’s Race?


Should Syria matter in the Virginia governor’s race?

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II said Thursday that he is opposed to U.S. military intervention in Syria, just hours after his foe in the Virginia governor’s race, businessman Terry McAuliffe, declined to take a position on the thorny topic.

While the governor of Virginia has no real role in national-security policy, the possibility of war that is dominating the news is probably what’s on voters’ minds right now. One former GOP county chair e-mails me this could resonate because of the number of military families in the state.

And while military families aren’t a monolith, an op-ed in the Washington Post suggests that there’s a great deal of wariness and skepticism in the ranks about military action in Syria.

Robert H. Scales, a retired Army major general and a former commandant of the U.S. Army War College, writes:

The tapes tell the tale. Go back and look at images of our nation’s most senior soldier, Gen. Martin Dempsey, and his body language during Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Syria. It’s pretty obvious that Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, doesn’t want this war. As Secretary of State John Kerry’s thundering voice and arm-waving redounded in rage against Bashar al-Assad’s atrocities, Dempsey was largely (and respectfully) silent.

Dempsey’s unspoken words reflect the opinions of most serving military leaders. By no means do I profess to speak on behalf of all of our men and women in uniform. But I can justifiably share the sentiments of those inside the Pentagon and elsewhere who write the plans and develop strategies for fighting our wars. After personal exchanges with dozens of active and retired soldiers in recent days, I feel confident that what follows represents the overwhelming opinion of serving professionals who have been intimate witnesses to the unfolding events that will lead the United States into its next war.

They are embarrassed to be associated with the amateurism of the Obama administration’s attempts to craft a plan that makes strategic sense. None of the White House staff has any experience in war or understands it. So far, at least, this path to war violates every principle of war, including the element of surprise, achieving mass and having a clearly defined and obtainable objective . . . 

More accurately, it’s hard to believe that Terry McAuliffe genuinely has no opinion about military action in Syria, Most likely, he has an opinion (perhaps a conflicted one) and doesn’t want to tell the rest of us what it is.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , Syria

Cuccinelli’s Ads and Statements More Accurate Than McAuliffe’s


“Republican Ken Cuccinelli: Running the Cleaner Campaign in Virginia . . . Technically.”

According to the scorecard, eight of the 11 McAuliffe statements investigated by PolitiFact Virginia qualified as “mostly false,” “false” or “pants on fire.” Seventy-two percent of the McAuliffe charges did not survive unbiased scrutiny.

According to the scorecard, seven of the 12 Cuccinelli statements investigated by PolitiFact Virginia qualified as “false” or “pants on fire.” Fifty-eight percent of the Cuccinelli charges did not survive unbiased scrutiny.

Cuccinelli’s percentage might be better than McAuliffe’s but it remains deplorable.

Then again, some may quibble with how PolitiFact grades the comments. They assess a Cuccinelli ad statement, “There’s only one candidate under investigation: Terry McAuliffe” to be false, because it’s only McAuliffe’s company GreenTech that’s under investigation . . . for activities when McAuliffe was chairman. McAuliffe says he hasn’t been contacted by investigators. Some would grade the Cuccinelli charge “half-true” or too early to say.

Here’s how they grade another Cuccinelli accusation against the Democrat:

Cuccinelli, in attacking McAuliffe’s ethics, says the Democrat is “the person who invented the scheme to rent out the Lincoln Bedroom.”

McAuliffe authored a memo in early 1995 listing ways Clinton could connect with top Democratic patrons. But the original note did not mention White House sleepovers; that idea was later added in the handwriting of others. McAuliffe has always denied he came up with the scheme; Clinton in 1997 took full responsibility for the idea.

No doubt, McAuliffe strongly backed the sleepovers and recommended heavy hitters that should be offered a night in the Lincoln Bedroom. But we see no evidence that McAuliffe “invented the scheme.”

We rate Cuccinelli’s statement False.

Again, you can hit Cuccinelli for using the term “invented,” but McAuliffe obviously had a major role in “the scheme.”

For what it’s worth, Cuccinelli’s newest ad, “Justice,” is a positive one:

Meanwhile, the new McAuliffe ad hits Cuccinelli for a 2008 bill that declared a married couple who have minor children may not obtain a divorce based on separation if the other party files a written objection with the court. For this, the McAuliffe campaign decrees Cuccinelli is “interfering in our private lives” and suggests the bill would only have applied to women.

Just how easy or hard do we want to make divorce for parents of minor children, particularly if one of the spouses wants to stay married?

UPDATE: Here’s a most unexpected ally for Ken Cuccinelli:

As I say in my book, I think getting a divorce should be much harder when children are involved.

For much of the 1970s and 1980s, many believed that a bad marriage was worse than a good divorce. Now, however, we know that children bear the brunt of failed marriages.

. . . Most marriages dissolve because of far less desperate circumstances. Divorce has become too easy because of our permissive laws and attitudes. Just look at our culture today: Good marriages are seldom celebrated, while every tiff or spat in a celebrity marriage becomes tabloid fodder.

For too many people, “Till death do us part” means “Till the going gets rough.” With so many marriages failing — nearly half end in divorce in our country — we need to do more to encourage parents to work out their problems, stay together and strengthen their families. In cases where problems can’t be reconciled, parents ought to put the needs of their children first in working out the terms of divorce. They must understand that their parental responsibilities continue even after a marriage splits up.

The good news is that attitudes about marriage and divorce seem to be changing. Some states are beginning to examine whether their divorce laws are too lax. Grass-roots campaigns to help preserve marriage are flourishing around the country.

– Hillary Clinton, January 27, 1996

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli


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