Democrats are already trying to use the government shutdown to gain an advantage in the governor’s race in Virginia, which is chock full of federal government employees who have been furloughed.
Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe is running a tough ad linking his Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli to Senator Ted Cruz, the Texas firebrand who is seen by many as the architect of the GOP shutdown strategy. Cruz is set to speak on Saturday at the Family Foundation’s annual dinner in Richmond, an event Cuccinelli will also attend. That’s a good enough connection for Democrats to charge that Cruz is “campaigning” for Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli has not embraced the shutdown strategy, but Democrats are pounding him anyway: “Ken Cuccinelli’s refusal to condemn his tea-party allies for shutting down the federal government to drive their shared extreme ideological agenda shows that he’s willing to put Virginia’s economy and communities at risk,” said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin.
As of last week, Cuccinelli had pulled to within as little as three points of McAuliffe, who has led the race for months. With both McAuliffe and Cuccinelli sporting high negatives, the shutdown presents the Democrats with an opportunity to change the subject away from their candidate’s own deep connections to Beltway interests.