Ken Cuccinelli’s troubled campaign

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By Rick Howell

As Labor Day approaches and the Virginia governor’s race kicks into high gear, one thing is clear at this point: Ken Cuccinelli is losing.
    You’d think it would be Democrat Terry McAuliffe who’s in trouble, after $5 million dollars worth of negative ads against him have been running all summer. But the Republican Governor’s Association, who paid for the ads, apparently doesn’t know much about Virginia politics.
    A poll commissioned by NBC News shows McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli, 48 to 42 percent. Politico.com reported that an internal Democratic poll shows their candidate ahead by four points.
    Polls earlier in the year don’t mean much, but a careful observer would note that since his nomination, Cuccinelli has never really gotten out of the 38 to 42 percent range. Those aren’t numbers you win with.
    The truth is, the attorney general doesn’t even have the full support of his own party. Many Republicans would have preferred to nominate lieutenant governor Bill Bolling, who doesn’t have the ideological and ethical baggage that so defines Cuccinelli.
    But Cuccinelli, who ran the attorney general’s office as though it was the Richmond “tea party” headquarters, put his acolytes in charge of the party machinery and engineered a convention instead of a primary.
    Bolling has made it clear since that he has a strong distaste for Cuccinelli’s far-right politics, and that he’d like to see Republicans get back to their senses in this state and start nominating more mainstream candidates for office.
    Just last week, Cuccinelli’s bid suffered a major setback with the defection of long-time state GOP consultant Boyd Marcus. He told the Associated Press, “I was looking at the candidates, and I saw Terry McAuliffe as the guy who will work with everybody to get things done.”
    That’s the clamor you’re beginning to hear from many Americans. It’s time political leaders put aside their differences and worked together for the benefit of the people.
    But when you’re dealing with an ideologue such as Cuccinelli – and such as the ones that run the House of Representatives in Washington – you won’t get anything but more stalemate.
    Alison Grimes, the Democrat set to take on Mitch McConnell for the U. S. Senate seat in Kentucky, captured the spirit of this when she recently said of McConnell: “If the doctor told him he had a kidney stone, he’d refuse to pass it.”
    This same kind of politician – personified by Cuccinelli and that bizarre running mate of his, E. W. Jackson – have essentially taken over the Virginia Republican Party.
    One can’t help but wonder: Have these people not noticed recent elections in Virginia? Have they not witnessed the effects of the new demographics in this state?
    Cuccinelli is turning people off with his hard-core, right-wing policies, which includes his obsession with “social issues,” and the need he has to go after those who believe in the things he doesn’t, such as global warming.
    The polls have shown that women, in particular, aren’t very interested in supporting Cuccinelli. He certainly has no respect for a woman’s right to choose, and is hostile to the very social safety net that helps single moms and our elderly.
    Independents usually decide Virginia elections, anyway, and they always seem to prefer a moderate who can get things done over an ideologue.
    Sure, Cuccinelli can still win the election with a low turnout, and Republicans love those, as dedicated as they are these days to restricting the vote.
    But the task remains for Virginia Republicans who are moderate to conservative, but not fanatical, to take back their party. Letting the likes of Cuccinelli and Jackson have it is what has them at 40 percent in the polls.

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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at RickDem117@gmail.com