Cuccinelli running for attorney general

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By John Barnhart

Although most people's attention is focused on this year's federal elections, Virginia will elect a new governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general in 2009.

Ken Cuccinelli, a state senator from Northern Virginia, wants to be Virginia's next attorney general. First, however, Cuccinelli, a Republican, must get his party to nominate him. As part of that effort, he showed up in Bedford on the day that the county's Republicans opened the doors of their headquarters on North Bridge Street.

Cuccinelli believes that one of his strong points is that he has gotten elected and reelected in an area that tends not to elect Republicans. He believes this is because he doesn't write off anybody's vote and will go into strongly Democratic neighborhoods to personally campaign.

Another reason that he believes Republicans should nominate him is that he's a conservative who won't compromise on core values. Cuccinelli said that there is always room for compromise when it comes to filling in potholes. There's no room for it when it comes to core values.

He said that he is pro-life and, in the Senate, nearly succeeded in de-funding Planned Parenthood. He said he's been successful standing up for property rights.

Cuccinelli said that he's also refused to compromise on Second Amendment rights, even though his district is in favor of gun control. He said that he was able to make his point that people, rather than guns, were the problem in two high profile cases in which mentally ill people committed murder, including the mass murders at Virginia Tech last year.

"I do what I believe is right and explain why to my constituents," he said.

He believes that he will be a valuable asset to the Republican ticket next year if nominated for attorney general, stating he can win in Northern Virginia.

"We have to get back in Northern Virginia and fight for those votes," he said. "I don't win my races without winning Democrats and independents."

Cuccinelli said that he's been able to do this in spite of being outspent by his opponent in every race. He does this by running strong grassroots races with lots of volunteers.

"We have the best Republican data base of any [state] Senate district," he said.

As Cuccinelli spoke to a group of local Republican activists, one asked if it was a bad idea for him to give up a Republican seat to the Democrats. He replied that vacating this seat does not necessarily mean that the next occupant will be a Democrat.

"We are not conceding our Senate seat at all," he said.

Cuccinelli believes that the Republican Party must be the party of principle in order to win, adding that the Democrats got control of the state Senate because Republicans defeated themselves. One of the ways Republicans defeated themselves was by raising taxes that Democrats wanted raised, he said.

The office of attorney general provides a great pulpit for advocating for change, Cuccinelli said. The attorney general also provides legal advice to state agencies and has a role in state regulation. He said that it's necessary to keep both taxes and regulation down in order to maintain business growth.

He also plans to work against illegal immigration. Cuccinelli said that gangs in Northern Virginia recruit among illegals and that a flat or shrinking economy tends to push illegals toward crime.

"Legally, we bring in one million a year, " Cuccinelli said, stating that he is all in favor of those who enter the United States legally. He said that's how his Irish and Italian ancestors came here ? legally, giving up their old country and becoming Americans.