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It’s fair to say that in Virgnia we’ve never had an attorney general quite like Ken Cuccinelli.
In a sense, Cuccinelli has made more news over the last four years than has the governor, Bob McDonnell.
He has taken his office, which has only a few simple constitutionally-prescribed duties, and turned it into a raging tea-party front for his decidedly extreme right-wing views.
Now that’s not just the liberal agenda guy talking again, that’s become the conventional view, even shared in both Virginia political parties, of a man who now wants to be governor.
Here’s one quote: “(Cuccinelli is) an ideological extremist who is not in the mainstream of Virginia.” That wasn’t me or another liberal Democrat; that was Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling.
Democrats, of course, have delighted in the way they describe Cuccinelli’s partisanship. His nickname in the party is “Kooky-Nelly.” I’d like to suggest “Madman along the James” as a better title.
Because, when you examine what he appears to think, he’s a throwback to the old John Birch Society type of right-winger, extremism without scruples or moderation of any kind.
During the General Assembly session, Democrats even held a “public reading” of the more delicious passages of a book Cuccinelli has co-authored, “The Last Line of Defense.”
His record here and the public utterances of his beliefs have gained nationwide attention. He spent large amounts of state money trying to coerce the University of Virginia to release documents that he thought would prove the “global warming hoax.”
He bullied state regulators into creating harsh new rules for abortion clinics that were only meant to be punitive, forcing, in that case, the resignation of one state official.
Like many other ideologues across the country, he gleefully took the Obama administration to court over health care reform, only to have the law declared constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court.
He apparently endorses the notion that “entitlement programs” are great social evils, and that military spending should never, ever be cut. He said somewhere, I think on a radio show, that he considered not allowing one of his children to even get a Social Security card because, “that’s how they track you.”
Again, Bill Bolling: “My own mom and dad relied on Social Security and Medicare to help them through the last years of their lives. These programs may need reforms to preserve them for the future, but seniors shouldn’t be criticized as ‘dependents’ because they receive Social Security and Medicare.”
The practical concern for Virginia Republicans is obvious: Can a guy as right-wing as this actually win in a state that’s now voting Democratic in most elections?
Recently, it was reported by Politico.com that Bobbie Kilberg and Gary Shapiro, both Northern Virginia CEOs and GOP fundraisers, confronted Cuccinelli directly about his tea-party extremism in front of a whole crowd.
At first, neither would talk about what was said at the meeting. But Shapiro later relented and, according to Politico, “expressed deep reservations about Cuccinelli and said he feared hard-core social conservative policies would make Virginia less attractive for business.”
The most recent development is the announcement that something calling itself the Susan B. Anthony List – a fanatical anti-abortion outfit – will contribute $1.5 million to get Cuccinelli elected.
This group opposes abortion rights in every possible situation, even incest, rape, and the health of the mother. Just the kind of people most Americans voted against last November.
So, clearly, some moderate Republicans are horrified at Cuccinelli’s candidacy, and Bill Bolling might just run as an independent.
But for Virginia, people of good will must come together to make sure this ideologue never makes it to the governor’s mansion.
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Rick Howell, a Bedford native, can be reached by e-mail at RickDem117@gmail.com.