Unlike some pundits we could name, we here at Odd Dominion HQ have never discounted the chances that Virginia’s rabidly right-wing Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli could somehow weasel his way into the governor’s mansion. After all, despite the man’s long history of extremist positions and borderline abusive political behavior (like issuing a “Civil Investigative Demand” for the records of climate scientist Michael Mann, who received state funds while producing a widely respected series of climate studies for the University of Virginia), the Cooch has always displayed a particular talent for ingratiation. He may have the burning heart of a zealot, but his ability to appeal to the crazies while simultaneously convincing a sizable swath of swing voters that he’s a moderate is what keeps him in office.
But it’s one thing to accept that the man has a fighting chance to become Virginia’s next governor, and something else entirely to see it splashed across the pages of The Washington Post. And yet there it was, in stark black and white, in the May 4 edition: an official Post poll that showed Democratic challenger Terry McAuliffe trailing Cuccinelli by five points among all Virginia voters, and a disastrous 10 points among “certain” voters.
And yes, all of the usual caveats apply. It’s incredibly early in the race; only 10 percent of poll respondents said they were following the race closely; nearly half of all voters still consider themselves undecided. What’s more, a more recent NBC News/Marist poll actually had McAuliffe besting Cuccinelli by two points among registered voters.
But still! The fact that Ken “Climate Conspiracy” Cuccinelli is apparently Virginia’s gubernatorial frontrunner is enough to make us despair for the future of the Commonwealth. And adding to our despair is the fact that the sole obstacle standing between the Cooch and the Executive Mansion is former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe.
Now don’t get us wrong—we love the Macker! But unfortunately, the ironic adulation of left-leaning political columnists is not going to help him knock off Cuccinelli. In fact, all of the things that we find endearing about McAuliffe (he once wrestled an alligator in exchange for a political donation! He left his wife and newborn son in the back of a limo to attend a fundraiser hosted by the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters!) are probably the exact things that are exacerbating his current lack of electoral traction.
McAuliffe is a political animal, pure and simple. And while it can certainly be argued that a lifelong dedication to supporting (and raising funds for) a political party is great preparation for political office, the unfortunate truth is that McAuliffe is a largely unknown entity with the reputation of a snake-oil salesman. Pitted against a halfway rational Republican candidate (like, say, Bill Bolling), we wouldn’t give him a chance.
But in this race, at this crucial point in Virginia’s political trajectory, we can only hope that he has what it takes. Because if he fails, and the Cooch actually ascends the throne?
Well, then—for better or for worse—the joke will finally be on us.