Why the Virginia Governor’s Race Matters toNon-Virginians

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.

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