This year's gubernatorial race in the Commonwealth of Virginia may offer a pitiable set of conditions for actual Virginia voters (of which I am one ... if any other state in America wants to make me an offer to come move there, let me know), but it's basically shaping up to be an opposition research pimp's dream, as current Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli matches up with former Democratic National Committee chair and once-failed Virginia statehouse aspirant Terry McAuliffe. (There was a brief moment when current Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling might have run, over concerns about Cuccinelli's electability, but he's since taken that threat off the table.)
Cuccinelli, of course, recently made news because of his effort to get the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to reconsider an earlier decision which overturned Virginia's ban on sodomy, earning him comparisons to Rick Santorum and reminding everyone that he's precisely the sort of GOP politician who could "go Akin" on the party as it attempts to "rebrand" itself.
Democrats in Virginia have long been laboring to make Cuccinelli's cultural conservatism well known to voters, going so far as to try to make his book, The Last Line Of Defense: The New Fight For American Liberty, a best-seller. The Democratic Governors Association actually gave away 25 copies of the book to curious voters, and in Richmond, Democratic legislators performed "dramatic readings" from it. (A similar effort was mounted in Arlington, but if you know anything about the political makeup of that county then you'd probably already realize that the undertaking was pretty superfluous.)
So, what are Cuccinelli partisans doing in response, besides presumably not sodomizing one another? Well, according to Beth Reinhard of the National Journal, they are trying to make McAuliffe "look like Mitt Romney." Mind you, they are not actually saying, "Terry McAuliffe is the second coming of Mittens, guys." Rather, they are drilling down on McAuliffe's business career and its more outlandish aspects, such as a 2009 statement McAuliffe made claiming to have “created over 100,000 jobs -- good-paying jobs with benefits and good wages," mirroring a similar brag of Romney's.
McAuliffe is still pitching himself as a job creator, though he apparently hasn’t repeated the 100,000 figure and quietly resigned as chairman of the GreenTech electric car company that he once boasted would employ 900 people. (The company has yet to build a manufacturing plant.) Cuccinelli’s campaign is assailing McAuliffe’s departure from GreenTech in December in an online ad, in addition to pointing to his $8 million profit from a telecommunications company called Global Crossing that laid off 10,000 employees when it went bust.
"Terry McAuliffe has demonstrated a consistent pattern of misleading Virginians, whether it's resigning from GreenTech in the stillness of the night, or claiming he has created 100,000 jobs,” said Anna Nix, a Cuccinelli spokeswoman. “Virginians deserve to know, does McAuliffe's time at GreenTech and other failed companies represent the kind of leadership he would bring to the commonwealth?"
McAuliffe is said to be "campaigning in the mold of now-Sen. Mark Warner," because Warner's been winning statewide elections since 2001 on the strength of his private-sector bona fides, and anyway it's better than "campaigning in the mold of someone who couldn't beat Creigh Deeds in a Democratic primary." Reinhard says that the McAuliffe campaign has "dismissed the idea that his business record would be a liability and argued that Cuccinelli’s anti-gay, anti-abortion positions as state attorney general had hurt Virginia's image in the private sector." (Though, being "anti-gay" and/or "anti-abortion" doesn't seem to be troubling other conservative lawmakers in the Commonwealth too much.)
Interestingly enough, the Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin is not impressed with the Cuccinelli campaign's strategy. To her estimation, though "McAuliffe may be one of the few Democrats Cuccinelli can beat because his campaign makes the election about McAuliffe’s shenanigans and not Cuccinelli’s ideology," she nevertheless warns that "Cuccinelli’s breathless hyping" of the GreenTech story is "telling":
Does he really expect this blip in April to do lasting damage to McAuliffe? He has no ads on the air, and it is doubtful that most voters have even heard of the incident. More troubling is the further delay in Cuccinelli rolling out a positive, substantive agenda. He has been playing a dangerous game for months -- defining neither himself nor his goals as governor.
Hmmm, so Cuccinelli is letting the days go by without laying out an agenda or successfully "defining himself?" Sounds like the comparison to Romney is just as apt.
READ THE WHOLE THING: To Beat Terry McAuliffe, Virginia Republicans Are Trying to Make Him Look Like Mitt Romney [National Journal]
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