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Tags: Virginia

Chatting With Ed Gillespie (and Snooping Around His Office)



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A short while ago, I taped a pair of video interviews with GOP Senate candidate (and friend of NR) Ed Gillespie. In the first, discussing the state of the campaign and the big issues at stake in his bid against incumbent Democratic senator Mark Warner, you can see that if you’ve donated to Gillespie’s Senate campaign, you can rest assured that your money did not go to fancy office furniture:

In the second, Gillespie shows me some of the knickknacks in his personal office – a letter his daughter sent to George W. Bush in crayon and the president’s response; a windbreaker from his days as a U.S. Senate parking attendant, and mementos of his work as a campaign manager for Dick Armey in 1986.

Google Maps seems convinced that the Gillespie campaign is working in a giant oil terminal tank. No doubt that the Warner campaign will cite this to claim that Gillespie’s campaign is “a product of the big oil companies.”

Tags: Ed Gillespie , Mark Warner , Virginia

Libertarian Candidate: Give Crooks the Death Penalty, or Just Board Games



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Eric Cantor’s district may get even tougher on crime if one candidate looking to replace the outgoing congressman has his way.

Libertarian Party candidate James Carr gave a shock to advocates of minimal government recently by arguing that government should have a lot more power to kill people:

To begin I will say very clearly that I believe the death penalty should be used much more widely than it currently is applied. Examples of crimes that should carry a capital punishment possibility include but are not limited to attempted murder, violent sex offenses, and any sex offense against a child. I do understand that most people reading this will have serious misgivings about application of the death penalty for offenses in which someone else did not die it is not my intent to enforce an eye-for-an-eye approach. I am much more interested in the best outcome for society as a whole and the individuals that perpetrate these offenses are best removed from society permanently.

Unlike Don Corleone at around the 2:50 mark here, Carr can’t be bothered with the details of punitive ethics. A libertarian always, um, puts the best interests of society ahead of individual justice.

I speak from long and doleful experience when I say libertarians are the reason we can’t have a libertarian society. But coming after the breakthrough gubernatorial run of L.P. candidate Mark Sarvis — whose platform included a vehicle-mileage tax that would have made George Harrison’s nightmare vision in “Taxman” a literal reality — Carr’s death penalty plank indicates that, at least in Old Dominion, libertarian candidates are not even digesting the Randrothian soup of ideas that is supposed to be the basis of the libertarian diet.

The “fiscal policy” page on Carr’s website reads only “Details forthcoming.” So does the page for foreign policy. The Healthcare page reads only “Information forthcoming,” though Carr claims that he has “been in the healthcare field for over seven years–specializing in finance, business systems and advanced analytics.”  The abortion page at least shows some consistency of double-death principle; but don’t look for an argument building on, say, Murray Rothbard’s clever free-rider pro-abortion conclusion. Carr, last of the truly free men, hews to his own logic no matter what dense jungles of excogitation it leads him into. (“Of course, the range between nuclear weapons in every home and abortion is a wide one.”)

Many commenters, most recently the Virginia conservative blog BearingDrift, questioned the libertarian foundations of Carr’s platform, and the candidate offered a compromise, because politics is the art of the possible: Life without parole and separation from non-violent offenders.

This new population of life sentence inmates should be given no special amenities. No additional costs should be assumed by the taxpayers to provide television, Internet, weight-lifting equipment, etc. Their very existence should be basic and as cost-effective as possible with books and board games as the only entertainment.

Carr will face off against Republican David Brat and Democrat Jack Trammell in November, in a district Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call rates as “Safe Republican.” Brat unseated Cantor in a surprise win in this month’s Republican primary.

Update: Carr responded to National Review Online after posting time and explained that he has not yet had time to fill in the “details forthcoming” pages on his site. He acknowledged that fiscal, foreign and health care policy are defining issues for a libertarian congressional candidate  — possibly more so than either the death penalty or abortion, over which the U.S. House has little authority — but he said his positions there would be within the libertarian mainstream. He also said some pieces of his platform (several of which, such as the campaign financing page, this reader found incomprehensible) might get a polishing up. An earlier version of this post indicated Carr updated his death penalty plank recently in response to the BearingDrift blog post. In fact, he updated it in May, in response to other interlocutors.

Tags: Virginia , Libertarians , Capital Punishment

Washington Post Belatedly Realizes Who Terry McAuliffe Is



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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

The Cautionary Tale of Bob McDonnell



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From the Wednesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Bob McDonnell, Once One of the GOP’s Rising Stars, Heads to the Courthouse

Bob McDonnell, you’re a big jerk.

Here’s one detail from the indictment that’s just heartbreaking if you ever thought Bob McDonnell had a bright future as a leader on the national stage:

On or about August 1, 2011, MAUREEN MCDONNELL also met privately with JW (presumably McDonnell donor and Star Scientific CEO Jonny Williams). During the meeting, MAUREEN MCDONNELL noticed JW’s watch and asked what brand it was. JW informed her it was a Rolex. She informed JW that she would like to get one for ROBERT MCDONNELL because he would like a Rolex. JW expressed concern regarding whether ROBERT MCDONNELL would actually wear such a luxury watch given his role as a senior government official. MAUREEN MCDONNELL told JW that she wanted JW to buy a Rolex for ROBERT MCDONNELL. JW subsequently bought a Rolex for ROBERT MCDONNELL. When JW contacted MAUREEN MCDONNELL to ask her what she wanted engraved on the watch, MAUREEN MCDONNELL instructed JW to have “71st Governor of Virginia” engraved on the back of the Rolex.

If these points in the indictment are accurate, even Jonnie Williams — the guy allegedly bribing the McDonnells with these gifts and loans — seemed to sense this was a bad idea. McDonnell earned $175,000 per year as governor — one of the highest salaries of any governor — and obviously doesn’t have to worry about paying rent while he’s governor. But the Rolex cost $6,500. That’s a pretty hefty chunk of change for a timepiece. People would inevitably ask questions about how he could afford it.

It sounds like the McDonnells had well-hidden financial issues from the moment they entered the governor’s mansion. In December 2009, one month after McDonnell wins in a landslide, Maureen McDonnell e-mails “JE,” one of Robert McDonnell’s senior staff members:

“I need to talk to you about Inaugural clothing budget. I need answers and Bob is screaming about the thousands I’m charging up in credit card debt. We are broke, have an unconscionable amount in credit card debt already, and this Inaugural is killing us!! I need answers and I need help, and I need to get this done.”

Painful lesson: You never really know a candidate or public official, unless you’re in the innermost of inner circles. Little or nothing in Bob McDonnell’s past as state attorney general or state legislator pointed to an extravagant lifestyle, serious personal debts, or blind spots in judgment. Even if you know a candidate . . . you never really know how power will change them.

Someone asked how much of this mess is the responsibility of Maureen McDonnell, and how much is the fault of the governor. That doesn’t really matter much, now does it? He’s the governor. He’s got to know that if he’s going to accept a gift, he has to disclose it. He’s got to have the basic common sense to realize that one guy offering more than $150,000 in loans and gifts isn’t just doing it because he’s a nice guy. And if his wife is getting him involved in financial arrangements that appear compromising, he’s got to put his foot down and get himself out.

The legal response from McDonnell’s lawyersciting me! Thanks a heap, guys!* — is that governors get gifts from donors all the time, and that no matter how awful it stinks, nothing actually breaks federal law.

But part of me can’t believe they’ve been reduced to arguing this:

All that Governor McDonnell is alleged to have done for Star or Mr. Williams was facilitate two meetings with Virginia Health and Human Resources officials (who gave Star nothing but a little of their time), make a brief appearance at a Star event in Richmond, attend a private luncheon hosted by his wife (and paid for by his PAC) at the Governor’s mansion at which Star announced the award of research grants to two Virginia universities, and attend a large healthcare reception at the Mansion to which his wife had invited a few Star representatives (invitations indistinguishable from those extended to thousands of other people over the Governor’s time in office).

Yeah, that’s all!

The Commonwealth of Virginia does not provide its governor a mansion so that he can help donors sell their products, and we don’t elect these guys so they can suddenly become enormously popular with rich guys who want to share their vacation homes and buy them watches. You can’t cash in on your office — and if the argument is that every elected official does it, you can’t do it on this scale.

* This is sarcasm.

Tags: Bob McDonnell , Virginia

What Ed Gillespie Brings to Virginia’s Senate Race



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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

Geraghty for Congress 2014: Inaction In Action



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Today’s Morning Jolt explores how popular culture is attempting to redefine Chris Christie, some new signs about Congress toying with the public in Washington, and then this key announcement about the opening in Virginia’s 8th congressional district:

Geraghty for Congress 2014: Inaction In Action

(Somewhere in Virginia’s eighth congressional district, Jim takes the stage to cheers from crowd of residents.)

My fellow Virginians . . . 

I have heard your call, ringing loud and clear from the wood-paneled offices of the trade associations in Arlington, to the gleaming glass tower of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, to the elegantly landscaped cul-de-sacs of Yuppie Acres, to the teeming miles upon miles of Starbuckses in our communities . . . 

We of the eighth congressional district now face the question of how we will go on, without a representative who keeps being accused of violent behavior around women, who pursues a vigilante campaign against eight-year-old carjackers, who blames the Iraq War on Jews, and so many other unforgettable moments in a political career that is rivaled only by Mayor Quimby of Springfield. Clearly, we will soon see a vacancy in an office that needs to be cleaned out with sugarless Gummi Bears.

I have been asked what I am willing to do to earn the great responsibility and honor of representing you in the House of Representatives. My answer is simple and direct: Absolutely nothing.

(Nervous laughter from crowd.)

My fellow Virginians, if you elect me to Congress, I promise that I will not lift a finger for the special interests, the corporate interests, the lobbyists, Big Oil, Big Business, Big Papi, the Big Ten, the Notorious B.I.G., or The Big Bang Theory. I won’t answer to them or any other one of our public discourse’s designated villains of the week.

(Cheering)

I can make this promise with confidence because I’m pretty sure I won’t do much of anything for you, either.

(Cheering stops)

This is an area where my principled commitment to limited government and my deep disinterest in dealing with your problems will align perfectly.

Do you want a deduction or tax credit written into the tax code to benefit your business? Well, tough, because you’re not getting it. Your business is supposed to thrive because it provides quality goods and services, not because it gets some special help from the IRS.

(Murmurs of discontent.)

Do you want an earmark written into an appropriations bill? Argo-you-know-what.

(Someone drops a glass.)

Are you hoping I’ll persuade my colleagues to pass a law that will help your industry? I’ll pencil that in my schedule for the first of Never.

If you’ve got a great project that you want some federal agency to invest in . . . go find some venture capitalists, because it’s not the taxpayers’ duty to give you money and hope it all works out.

If you think Medicare isn’t spending enough on “vacuum erection systems” . . . go call somebody who cares. When you do, I hope you don’t use an Obamaphone.

My fellow Virginians, it’s time to take the service out of public service. That big dome on the Hill over there has one job, protect people’s rights. It is not supposed to be like Oprah giving away free cars to the audience. A lot of us have gotten way too comfortable with the idea that government’s job is to help us by giving us stuff and doing stuff for us.

Have you ever considered that maybe the reason Congress is so awful is you, dear voters? I mean, you elected these clowns. But even beyond that, most of the time when members of Congress interact with the public, they’re being asked for favors. The mail they get, the phone calls they get, most of the people who show up at their town halls – everybody’s asking them for something. Get more funding for this! Help us get money to do that! Make sure this agency spends more on this local project! Look, your congressman is not Santa Claus! (Okay, former Rep. Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii kind of looks like him.) Through your behavior and expectations, you’ve conditioned our elected leaders to think of themselves as walking ATMs.

Ask not what your country can do for you . . . because I’m sick and tired of your whining. Do it yourself.

(The crowd is silent and not happy.)

What do you say, Virginia? Are you ready for a congressman who has nothing to offer you but . . . well, basically nothing to offer you?

Crowd: BOOOOOOOOOO!

Guy in crowd: Hey, doesn’t Mary Katharine Ham live in this district, too?

Another guy in crowd: Let’s nominate her!

The crowd moves on.

Tags: Virginia , Something Lighter

What Kind of Turnout Will Virginia See Tuesday?



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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.



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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

The Predictable Tone of the Post’s Virginia Editorials



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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

The Big Guy and the Little Guy in Virginia



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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

New Ad: Cuccinelli Launched the Investigation into McDonnell



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Perhaps it was inevitable that eventually, Republican Ken Cuccinelli would end up explicitly running against incumbent Republican governor Bob McDonnell.

Cuccinelli’s ad from last week had generic language that could be seen as a subtle shot at McDonnell’s controversy over accepting massive gifts and failing to disclose them:

Our tax code should encourage middle class families and small businesses, not reward the powerful and well-connected. Special interests shouldn’t get special treatment. As your governor, I’ll fight to make sure everybody has a fair shot.

The newest television ad from the Cuccinelli campaign is much more direct. A narrator declares, “Cuccinelli personally launched the investigation into Bob McDonnell and called for immediate reform to strengthen ethics laws.” The ad begins with a slam at McAuliffe’s GreenTech Automotive scandal, and notes Cuccinelli was cleared by the Democratic state’s attorney for Richmond on any wrongdoing in his own acceptance of gifts.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , Bob McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe , Virginia

It’s Hard to Take the Lead When You’re Outspent by $1.5 Million



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This isn’t all you need to know about the Quinnipiac poll showing Democrat Terry McAuliffe leading Republican Ken Cuccinelli by 6 percentage points in the Virginia governor’s race, but it’s a big piece of the puzzle: “McAuliffe and allies outspent Cuccinelli and his allies on TV ads by at least $1.5 million.”

What it suggests is that the coverage of McAuliffe’s scandals and his troubles at GreenTech Automotive hasn’t penetrated many voters, or they simply don’t care. Meanwhile, McAuliffe’s relentless attack ads aiming to Akin-ize Cuccinelli are working; McAuliffe leads among women by 50 percent to 38 percent, according to Quinnipiac.

And McAuliffe leads in cash on hand, $6 million to $2.7 million. There are 75 days until Election Day.

Some folks on the right are expressing skepticism of the party breakdown in Quinnipiac’s sample; Democrats have a seven-percentage-point advantage there. But after the Obama campaign successfully “changed the electorate” in 2012, driving up turnout among African-Americans, Hispanics, and young people, Republicans can’t be certain that this year’s turnout will echo the 2009 model, when self-identified Republicans were 37 percent of the electorate and self-identified Democrats only 33 percent.

More than a few conservatives asserted after Romney’s loss in 2012 that Republicans win when the party nominates genuine conservatives who aren’t afraid to take bold stands. So far, it appears they’re not putting their money where their mouth is.

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe , Virginia

Here’s the GreenTech Deal that the SEC Is Investigating



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Leading off the Tuesday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Did GreenTech’s Contract With EB-5 Visa Applicants Violate the Law?

Let’s connect some dots, and see if we can figure out why GreenTech Automotive is in such hot water. Here’s what the SEC investigation of Terry McAuliffe’s electric-car company is about, in part:

An electric-car company co-founded by Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe (D) is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission over its conduct in soliciting foreign investors, according to law enforcement documents and company officials.

In May, the SEC subpoenaed documents from GreenTech Automotive and bank records from a sister company, Gulf Coast Funds Management of McLean. The investigation is focused, at least in part, on alleged claims that the company “guarantees returns” to the investors, according to government documents.

Here’s the GreenTech Automotive promissory note, as obtained and published by the Franklin Center’s Kenric Ward:

“GTA Shall Issue Individual Certificate To The Fund For The Benefit Of The Individual Investor A Unit Of Preferred Stock To Be Converted At The End Of The Five-Year Term To GTA’s Common Stock Market Value Of Five Hundred And Fifty-Five Thousand Dollars ($555,000). Alternatively, GTA Promises To Purchase back Its Preferred Stock Unit As A Way Of Reducing The Proportion Of Preferred Equity From The Individual Investor Named Herein ________________, In Case GTA Fails To Go Public Upon Five-Year Anniversary Of The Named Investor’s Investment In The Amount Of Five Hundred Thousand US Dollars (USD $500,000.00)

Meaning either the investor gets preferred stock worth $555,000, or GreenTech buys back its preferred stock for $500,000.

An EB-5 visa requires an investment of $500,000 . . . and investors were charged $55,000 as an administrative fee, according to the offering memorandum.

So the only potential loss to investors was the $55,000 administrative fee. As any EB-5 site will tell you, the investment from the EB-5 applicant must involve risk; otherwise it’s not really an investment. As one immigration lawyer put it, “The law requires the capital to be at risk, and case law forbids guaranteed redemption agreements — a certain price and a certain time. That’s not really an investment; it’s more like a loan.”

I’m not a Securities and Exchange Commission lawyer, but don’t GreenTech Automotive’s terms sound an awful lot like guaranteeing a return?

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , GreenTech Automotive , Virginia , Securities and Exchange Commission

Why the Virginia Governor’s Race Matters to
Non-Virginians



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From the Monday edition of the Morning Jolt:

Why the Cuccinelli vs. McAuliffe Race Matters to You, Even If You Don’t Live in Virginia

First, does anyone want to argue that Ken Cuccinelli — Virginia’s attorney general, and current GOP candidate for governor — is not a conservative?

  • Led the legal challenge to Obamacare.
  • Defended Arizona’s immigration enforcement statute.
  • Filed legal challenges to the EPA’s findings on greenhouse gases’ being a threat to human health and thus an emission they have the authority to regulate.
  • Supports right to life from conception until death, supported and pushed several pro-life bills while in the state legislature.
  • Endorsed by the NRA.

We can examine his record further, but that gives you the gist.

So if you’re one of those folks who believe that Mitt Romney was a RINO squish, and that Republicans always lose when they nominate RINO squishes, then you really, really, really need Ken Cuccinelli to win this year.

If Ken Cuccinelli — Mr. Conservative Record — loses against a flawed competitor like Terry McAuliffe, in a purple state like Virginia . . . and simultaneously, Governor Hug-Obama-After-a-Hurricane-and-Move-Left wins in a landslide up in New Jersey . . . the message to the rest of the Republican party will be pretty clear. What you fervently believe — conservatives win, moderate squishes lose — will be refuted in the eyes of many Republicans.

Proud conservatives like to believe that their like-minded grassroots voters are, collectively, like a sleeping giant; they merely need to be awakened by the right candidate to transform into an unparalleled, unstoppable electoral force. Perhaps Cuccinelli and the African-American Christian minister running as the Republicans’ candidate for lieutenant governor, E. W. Jackson, will indeed be swept into office by that sleeping giant. Right now, most of Virginia’s big-time politics watchers think Jackson is a joke and an albatross to Cuccinelli.

If the conservative grassroots are indeed a sleeping giant, so far they’re hitting the “snooze” button on this race. At least through mid-summer, Cuccinelli’s fundraising is pretty “meh,” and he’s going up against an opponent who will have roughly infinity dollars.

Cuccinelli, 44, had $2.7 million in cash as of the end of June, compared with $6 million for McAuliffe, 56, the former national Democratic Party chairman and fundraiser. While McAuliffe had been expected to out-raise Cuccinelli, the Republican is lagging behind where McDonnell was at this point in his 2009 race, when he had $4.9 million in cash on hand.

What, national conservatives, the stakes aren’t high enough? You don’t feel sufficiently invested in the success of Cuccinelli in November?

Okay, then think of the Terry McAuliffe 2013 campaign as a dress rehearsal for the Hillary Clinton 2016 effort.

Because that’s how the McAuliffe team sees themselves:

She hasn’t said anything about 2016, but Terry McAuliffe’s 2013 gubernatorial campaign is serving as a testing ground for Clinton’s clout, operatives and donors… The success or failure of McAuliffe’s campaign is a chance to measure Clinton’s strength and organization in a critical state that now rivals Ohio as the pivotal swing state for winning a presidential election. In fact, McAuliffe and some of his top allies have suggested to big donors and consultants that supporting his campaign is a way to get in on the ground floor of Hillary 2016, several donors and operatives told POLITICO.

And now she’s holding a fundraiser for him September 30. McAuliffe wants to attach himself to her just as the campaign is really heating up and the low-information voters tune in.

Donor maintenance.

If McAuliffe wins, the Hillary-is-inevitable overtures in the media will become even louder and more insufferable. And if Cuccinelli loses to Hillary’s grating huckster buddy, a lot of movers and shakers in GOP circles will conclude there’s no way a pro-life, pro-gun, tough-on-immigration, anti-Obamacare, down-the-line conservative will beat Hillary herself in a must-win state like Virginia.

Now that I’ve started your Monday with a disturbing thought . . . here’s the latest turn in that campaign:

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli found himself hawking The New York Times to hundreds of supporters in Chesterfield County on Saturday as the Republican gubernatorial nominee sought to exploit new revelations about political influence to help a company that his Democratic opponent co-founded.

“I would not normally urge anyone to buy The New York Times,” Cuccinelli quipped to about 200 people at the Sheraton Richmond Park South during a nearly two hour “chat” on politics and public policy.

The front-page story on Saturday featured concerns raised by the president of GreenTech Automotive, a company that Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe helped found and lead, about the role the company’s former chairman played in using his political connections to help the startup business.

“I learned a lot of things,” Charles Wang, GreenTech’s president, said in an interview with the Times. “Politicians or people with political backgrounds are dangerous to business.”

Cuccinelli pounced on details in the story about McAuliffe’s role in GreenTech, including a meeting he reportedly arranged with federal officials through the office of Vice President Joe Biden to talk about approval of special visas for Chinese investors in the clean-car company.

“It certainly appears McAuliffe has not been truthful about using his political connections to seek and receive special treatment at the highest levels of the Obama administration,” Cuccinelli said in a written statement Saturday.

Maybe GreenTech Automotive turns into the game-changer the Cuccinelli campaign has needed — it’s not like anybody’s shocked by Terry McAuliffe working secret deals to help out wealthy friends and high-level government officials. Conflict-of-interest isn’t something he does; it’s who he is.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , Hillary Clinton , Virginia

Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Residency & Authenticity Cop



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Today Virginia’s candidates for governor met on stage once again this morning. 

Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s toughest moment came when asked about the Bi-County Parkway, a proposed project that aims to alleviate traffic in Prince William and Fairfax counties. At the end of a long, meandering, awkward answer explaining why he didn’t have a position yet, McAuliffe asked moderator Derek McGinty, anchor for WUSA, the Washington, D.C. CBS affiliate, if he lived in Virginia.

McGinty said he didn’t live in Virgina, “but have to drive there frequently.” McAuliffe urged him to move to Virginia, and McGinty responded, “I’ll move there when I know about the Bi-County Parkway.”

McAuliffe roared with laughter. “Fair enough. That’s good.”

The notion that Terry McAuliffe could give anybody else grief about ties to D.C. is pretty rich — after all, he’s the former finance chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as former finance chairman for the Dick Gephardt for President 1988 campaign, as former national finance chairman and then national co-chairman of the Clinton-Gore campaign, and as former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Oh, and his work on the board of Federal City National Bank in Washington, D.C., in the 1980s.

As he puts it, he merely “spent more time with Al Gore than with my own wife in 1993” as chairman of the DNC’s Business Leadership Forum.

 

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Ken Cuccinelli , Virginia

Cuccinelli: Voters’ First Focus Is Still Economic Anxieties



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One of the key still-unclear factors in& this year’s Virginia governor’s race is just what mood the voters are in as Election Day approaches. Quinnipiac finds only 8 percent describe themselves as “very satisfied” with “the way things are going in Virginia today,” but 54 percent say they’re “somewhat satisfied.” Another 26 percent say they’re “somewhat dissatisifed” and 11 percent say they’re “very dissatisfied.”

Back in 2009, the top issue was clear — the lingering recession and economic fears — and Republican nominee McDonnell’s simple “Bob’s for Jobs” signs were ubiquitous all over the state. This year, two topics dominated coverage of state politics: a transporation deal that hiked taxes in Northern Virginia and troubling revelations of a wealthy Virginia businessman giving expensive gifts to current governor Bob McDonnell and his family.

However, Quinnipiac finds McDonnell’s approval rating . . . still pretty high — 46 percent approve, 37 percent disapprove. That’s down from a May split of 49 percent approval, 28 percent disapproval, but still not quite as bad as one might think after a month of brutal press coverage. (Also note the same survey finds President Obama slightly underwater in Virginia, with 46 percent approving and 51 percent disapproving.)

So how do Virginia voters feel about the economy? The state’s unemployment rate is relatively low, 5.3 percent. The state slipped slightly in CNBC’s annual survey of best states for business, but from third out of 50 states to fifth. McAuliffe’s economic message is that Virginia could be at the very top with more focus on spending in transporation and infrastructure and education.

Ken Cuccinelli, meanwhile, says his conversations with voters reveal a lot of not-so-obvious lingering economic anxiety.

“The priority is the same for voters, it’s still jobs and the economy,” Cuccinelli told me in a recent interview. “To the extent that we’re technically in a recovery, it’s a pretty weak recovery and it isn’t reaching everybody. Especially with the implementation of Obamacare, you’ve got small businesses that are frozen in place. Heck, our community colleges are pushing their adjunct professors down below 30 hours, and that’s happening in the private sector as well. That’s causing a lot of dislocation. Add to that furloughs and sequestration in the two most economically stable parts of the state, northern Virginia and southeastern Virginia, and you really get a decent amount of anxiety about the economy and job opportunities. So I still find that’s the first focus of voters.”

UPDATE: By the way, one Quinnipiac survey result may offer a key indicator of public cynicism, and why McDonnell’s numbers haven’t tumbled too far: Asked, “compared to most people in public life, do you think Bob McDonnell has more honesty and integrity, less honesty and integrity, or about the same,” 12 percent said “more,” 17 percent said “less,” and 60 percent said “about the same.”

Tags: Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe , Bob McDonnell , Virginia

Terry McAuliffe’s Flexible Definition of ‘Successful’



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From the last Morning Jolt until July 1:

Oh, Terry.

McAuliffe is at it again, hoping you don’t pay any attention to anything but what he says.

While McAuliffe is viewed by many as an entrepreneur and businessman, the Republican campaign has been quick to point out two of McAuliffe’s ventures, GreenTech and new energy firm Franklin Pellets, have shown sluggish growth.

McAuliffe conceded the businesses haven’t taken off as rapidly as he’d hoped during a visit to nearby Loudoun County on June 14.

“I’ve been involved in starting two very 21st-century innovative businesses. They’re both start-ups. They’re both successful today at different elements in what they’re doing. They take time, maybe they take longer than we’d hope,” he said.

Define “successful.”

An upstart electric car company made the promise of providing hundreds of new jobs in North Mississippi almost one year ago. Taxpayers helped foot the bill to land Greentech Automotive, and now they want a return on their investment.

When a company commits to creating hundreds of jobs, it gets people’s attention.

Now model cars are gone from outside of the plant. The only evidence Action News 5 investigators found of any electric car production were a couple of cars whizzing around the parking lot after our crew started filming.

Based on last year’s announcement this facility should be booming by now.

For months, the Action News 5 Investigators asked to get back inside Greentech to see the operation and the Mid-Southerners hired to fill those promised positions. Greentech Vice President Marianne McInerney denied our requests each time, but share 78 employees worked inside.

Tags: Terry McAuliffe , Virginia , GreenTech

Why Do Virginia Republicans Still Use Nominating Conventions?



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The first Morning Jolt of the week features a look at how the Obama administration is claiming that if you look too closely at the scandals, you’re on a witch hunt; a surprising Washington figure who is already “Going Bulworth”; a new hitch for the immigration bill; and then this development down in Virginia . . . 

No, Virginia, This Isn’t the Best Way to Pick a Party Nominee.

How should state parties select their nominees for high office? Let me offer a simple criterion: get as many members of the party involved as possible – but limit the decision to registered members of that party. Sorry, independents and unaffiliated voters. If you want some say in who the Republicans nominate, then join the party, and the same goes for the Democrats and their nominations.

My home state of Virginia doesn’t meet this criterion; the state doesn’t register voters by party, and this weekend the state GOP selected their lieutenant gubernatorial candidate by convention.

Brian Schoeneman, writing at Bearing Drift, lays out the consequences of this approach:

I cannot, for the life of me, understand why anybody still thinks that nominating by convention is a good idea.

Let’s look at the numbers.

8,094 – The total number of registered delegates who showed up, out of over 12,000 who registered.
255,826 – The number of Republicans casting a ballot in the 2012 U.S. Senate primary.

Just from those numbers you can see that the majority of well-motivated Republicans interested in participating in our nominating processes were disenfranchised by the State Convention.

Here’s another number: $25.  As my colleague Melissa Kenney noted the other day, that’s the cost for children to attend the convention.  For a family as large as hers, or as large as Ken Cuccinelli’s, it would cost almost $200 for them to attend the convention.  That doesn’t include meals, transportation, and hotel costs for those who didn’t come from Richmond or the surrounding suburbs and don’t want to risk a 5+ hour drive home after a grueling hurry-up-and-wait style convention.  Not everybody can afford the poll tax conventions effectively levy.

And despite the miracles of modern communication, cell phones, Bearing Drift and our livestream, John Frederick’s live broadcast, email, Facebook and Twitter, the convention floor was still rife with rumors and nonsense, including the fake/rescinded endorsement controversy between Corey Stewart and Pete Snyder on the final ballot. Conventioneers were treated like fungi – kept in the dark and fed crap – and that inevitably had an impact on the final selection of E. W. Jackson as our Lt. Governor nominee.  Information trickled out of the counting area, and it was left to bloggers and social media to keep convention goers in the know.  And given the length of the convention, cell phones were dying or dead far before the convention was gaveled closed at 10:30 Saturday night.

We’ve all heard the arguments over the years about disenfranchisement of military members, parents with small children who can’t afford the cost of childcare, small business owners who can’t afford to give up a spring Saturday to the convention, the elderly who can’t go for 16 hours at a time, and the rest.  That was clearly in evidence yesterday, given that by the time the fourth ballot rolled around, over a third of the conventioneers who had showed up had left.  The final ballot saw fewer that 5,000 votes cast.

Is that what we really want?

Meet E. W. Jackson, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor:

E. W. Jackson served three years and was honorably discharged from the United States Marine Corps. He then graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree (BA), Summa Cum Laude with a Phi Beta Kappa Key from the University of Massachusetts at Boston. Three years later he graduated from Harvard Law School with a Juris Doctor (JD). While in law school, he was accepted into the Baptist ministry and studied theology at Harvard Divinity School.

Jackson practiced small business law for 15 years in Boston, and taught Regulatory Law as an Adjunct Professor at the Graduate level at Northeastern University in Boston. Since returning to his ancestral home of Virginia, he has also taught graduate courses in Business and Commercial Law at Strayer University in Virginia Beach and Chesapeake.

In 1997, he retired from his private law practice in order to devote full time to ministry. However, he still taught law and maintained both his avid interest in – and commitment to — civic and political responsibility. His first book, “Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life,” was published in 2008. His second book, “America the Beautiful – Reflections of a Patriot Descended from Slaves” is scheduled for release in 2012.

Jackson’s family history in Virginia dates back to the time of the Revolutionary War. According to the 1880 census, his great grandparents (Gabriel and Eliza) were a sharecropper family in Orange County, Virginia. His grandfather, Frank Jackson, moved to Richmond and then to Pennsylvania, where Jackson was born.

Expect every Republican running for office in the next two years to run on the theme that government, particularly the federal government, has abused the trust of the American people:

Vance Wilkins Jr., the first-ever Republican speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates and now active in the tea party movement, was asked to handicap the Cuccinelli-McAuliffe contest.

Wilkins flashed his knowing jack-o’-lantern grin: “That depends on what happens with those congressional hearings” — a reference to House and Senate inquiries of the controversies roiling the Obama administration — “They will flavor it.”

Tags: Virginia , Republicans , E.W. Jackson

Does the Term ‘Private Capital’ Cover Government Loans?



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The Republican Party of Virginia is having some fun this afternoon.

Here’s Terry McAuliffe in September 2011, discussing Solyndra on a Virginia-based public television program:

McAuliffe says, “I’m proud to always say of all my businesses and the one I’m doing now with the auto, I do it all with private capital. I use my own money and investor money, I just don’t want the government in my business.”

Strangely enough, that’s the exact month that McAuliffe’s company, GreenTech Automotive, accepted a $3 million loan from the Mississippi Development Authority, acting on behalf of the state of Mississippi. The contract can be found here. Separately, the MDA loaned another $2 million to Tunica County to purchase the site for the factory.

Tags: GreenTech , Terry McAuliffe , Virginia

McAuliffe, Cuccinelli Tied in New Virginia Poll



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Hmmmm.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are in a 38 – 38 percent dead heat in their race to become Virginia’s next governor. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, running as an independent candidate, leaves the race a statistical tie, with McAuliffe at 34 percent, Cuccinelli at 31 percent and Bolling at 13 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Bolling, elected as a Republican, said he will make a major announcement next month, presumably about the governor’s race.

When talking up the possibility of an independent bid, Bolling said earlier this month, “I think there is a definite opening in this campaign for a credible independent candidate… We will have our decision made and announced by March 14.”

Is 13 percent really the threshold of support to be a credible independent candidate? Of course, candidates tend to assess their own viability and credibility with a distinctly non-objective eye. Bolling has been lieutenant governor of the state for eight years, and found himself unlikely to be able to win the gubernatorial nomination over Cuccinelli at the state convention. Bolling and his crew may be angry that the Virginia GOP decided to select their nominee at a convention instead of a primary, but he shouldn’t have any illusions about the likely outcome in that venue as well; in June of last year, Cuccinelli led Bolling 51 percent to 15 percent.

But this may come down to what Bolling really wants to see: his own victory… or Ken Cuccinelli’s defeat.

Tags: SCOTUS , Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe , Virginia

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