“The Grimmest” Gubernatorial Race

mcauliffeBy Peter Galuszka

National media outlets are casting the Virginia gubernatorial match as “the grimmest election” featuring Atty. Gen. Kenneth Cuccinelli as “a Republican nutjob” and Terry McAuliffe as a scummy fundraiser who has revealed his failings in a “self-Borking book.”

Those, at least are the summations from New York magazine and The Daily Beast.

The publications note that given Cuccinelli’s tendencies towards extreme comments, the Democrats should have had an easy time finding a candidate to more than match him.

They chose Terry McAuliffe, who is down 10 points in a Washington Post poll and 5 points down in a Marist poll. The news is filled with stories about McAuliffe’s business plans that never amounted to much, including a green car plant in Mississippi and then a wood pellet that would help tiny Franklin in the Tidewater area recover from the loss of the old Union Camp pulp mill.

My only point is why it takes so long for such snarky trend-setters as the Beast and New York to catch up with the pack. Virginians have known for years about Cuccinelli’s views. I wrote at length about McAuliffe’s gushy book about his years as a Democratic fundraiser several weeks ago and the book isn’t exactly news.

Of course, as I was told years ago as a correspondent and an editor at a national business magazine, “It’s not news until it’s in The New York Times.”

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6 responses to ““The Grimmest” Gubernatorial Race”

  1. larryg Avatar

    There’s a bigger story here and that is how did it come to be that the RPV did or did not do what was necessary so that Cucinelli ended up essentially being the leader of the RPV in Virginia?

    A significant part of the GOP is moving further and further to the right and they are taking no prisoners in asserting control of the party.

    Is this what Virginians want?

    My view is that it’s what RoVa wants for sure.

    Will it take a Cucinelli as Gov for 4 years for Virginians to see how far right the party has actually moved?


    and here’s a thought. We always talk about how the majority decides issues and if it turns out that a Majority of Virginians want the kind of leadership that Cucinelli will bring to Va – those in the minority – now you know how all those far right folks have felt for years!


  2. Neil Haner Avatar
    Neil Haner

    How did Cuccinelli end up “essentially being the leader of the RPV in Virginia?” Go back 4 years to where he won the VaGOP’s nomination for A.G.

    This state votes R’s in as A.G., and has for 20 years, even when a Dem is Governor. Once he won the nomination for AG, he was a shoo-in to win.

    And for the last 30 years, the AG has always run for governor (though Mary Sue Terry did serve two terms before making her run). The only thing that could possibly have stood in the way for Cuccinelli was Bolling. And why didn’t that happen? Because the VaGOP has a convention instead of a primary, meaning the voice of moderates and centrists (who are the majority of the November electorate) are drowned out by the extreme right (who own conventions and caucuses). Bolling knew he never would’ve won at the Convention, not against a Tea Party hero.

    It was inevitable, in the works for four years.

  3. Breckinridge Avatar

    Larry — RPV is run by a state central committee and the state central committee is largely chosen at district conventions, with delegates from local conventions or mass meetings, etc etc. Last year, when all that was going on, the Tea Party and the Ron Paul acolytes showed up in droves and elected their slates. There were major changes in leadership and they all came to Richmond and voted for a convention. It ain’t about what the majority wants, it ain’t about what Virginia wants — it is about what the people in the room want. It is about showing up.

    Likewise at the polls. It is about what the people who show up to vote want.

  4. larryg Avatar

    @Breck – good explanation! and a question for you: the GOP that shows up at the polls will :

    1. – only be the tea part/Ron Paul types
    2. – the usual GOP base including the ones that don’t like the way
    the RPV is run…

    I’m betting that as bad as the RPV process was/is, it’s not a deal-breaker for the vast majority of the base who will suck it up and vote per usual.


  5. Breckinridge Avatar

    Sorry — didn’t see your question until this morning. The process is not bad, it is the process. Complaining about how RPV is run is SOP in Virginia and it continues to win its share of elections. The people who stayed away from the local and district meetings are the ones who have no right to complain if they preferred Bolling or prefer primaries.

    Yes, I suspect the GOP base will turn out and vote, per usual, but there are nuances. A couple percentage points of turnout either way in either camp can change the outcome. Ask Romney and look at the declining white vote in general last fall. The challenge is going to be the younger white and female voters who might be uninterested in the social issues central to Cuccinelli’s rise (if not front and center in his campaign) and of course some of them violently disagree with him on those issues. Can McAuliffe win them over? Will they stay home? Can McAuliffe produce a higher turnout among the voters who showed up for Obama and Kaine? I’m not privy to real polling so I won’t make a call. More fun to watch it unfold.

  6. larryg Avatar

    What wins for Dems in Va (my view) is when their turnout works good and it’s independent of the GOP turnout which is more or less about the same no matter what since the GOP believes that no matter how bad a GOP candidate is, it’s the lesser evil to a Dem.

    So Obama won because he had a awesome turnout machine and McAuliff could win also if he could successfully tap into that same constituency but I’m pretty sure he’s not.

    sounds like we’re close on the analysis… from afar, I’m sure.

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