Ken Cuccinelli has a gubernatorial strategy that’s puzzling at best

  • 1 COMMENTS
Ken Cuccinelli. Photo by Nancy Pastor, Washington Times. Ken Cuccinelli. Photo by Nancy Pastor, Washington Times.

You know, it’s been quite a while since we’ve checked in on our old pal Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s top cop, would-be governor, and all-around raging conservative id. To be honest, we got more than a little tired of his relentlessly right-wing, incessantly self-promoting prosecutorial stunts. And after the ignominious (and well-deserved) death of his anti-Obama-care lawsuit, we simply lost interest.

But there’s no denying that the man has a better-than-average chance of becoming Virginia’s next governor, so it behooves us to check in and see what, exactly, the Cooch has been up to lately. The answer? All kinds of crazy. But not crazy in the way you might think.

Sure, Cuccinelli has continued to use his office to effect extremely conservative outcomes—as he did last month when he bullied the state Board of Health into approving new, highly restrictive requirements for abortion providers by threatening to make board members liable for their own legal fees. But as he positions himself for the 2013 gubernatorial election, Cuccinelli has begun to veer in all kinds of interesting directions, leaving a trail of head-scratching decisions in his wake.

Take his recent ruling that Constitution Party presidential nominee Virgil Goode should be included on Virginia’s ballot. On the merits, the case was decided correctly —but who cares about the merits? Cuccinelli could have easily denied Goode ballot access, if he wanted, and he would have been roundly applauded by the establishment GOP for doing so. And yet, even though he’s supposedly a Mitt Romney supporter (and sometime surrogate), Cuccinelli knee-capped Romney’s (already iffy) chances of securing Virginia’s electoral votes by letting a third-party spoiler siphon off conservative votes.

Then there’s Cuccinelli’s odd relationship with Republican congressional candidate George Allen, who is currently fighting an uphill battle with fellow ex-governor Tim Kaine for Virginia’s open U.S. Senate seat. Now, back when Allen was the prohibitive favorite to win the Republican primary, Cuccinelli famously refused to endorse him. But now that Allen is struggling in the general election (with Kaine consistently leading in the polls), the Cooch is actually using his “Cuccinelli for Governor” fund to run pro-Allen Facebook ads. (Highly unusual for a sitting attorney general, who would normally want to avoid the appearance of providing an in-kind contribution to another candidate.)

And let’s not forget Cuccinelli’s recent, legally binding opinion giving the Virginia Port Authority final say over which, if any, private company will run its terminals. This ruling directly contradicts an executive order signed by Governor Bob McDonnell in May that gave his transportation secretary control over port priva-
tization (one of the governor’s longstanding priorities).

So let’s recap, shall we? In the past few months Cuccinelli has basically cost his party’s presidential nominee the election, embraced a losing, soon-to-be politically irrelevant senate candidate, and pissed off his boss, whose support will be crucial come the 2013 gubernatorial election. (Assuming Cuccinelli bests Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling in the upcoming Republican primary, that is.) Now, we have no idea if there’s a method to the Cooch’s madness, but we’re certain of one thing: In the race for “weirdest campaign strategy in America,” Cuccinelli is winning, hands down.

 

  • Donald

    Disagree on almost all points. It’s as though you’ve never heard of Bill Bolling. Assuming for discussion that there’s political calculation in each of those decisions, consider this first: in the modern era Virginia predictably elects a governor of the party opposing the current president’s party. Going back from the present: McDonnell/Obama, Kaine/Bush, Warner/Bush, Gilmore/Clinton, Allen/Clinton, Wilder/Bush, Baliles/Reagan, Robb/Reagan, Dalton/Carter. The pattern is overwhelmingly strong. You basically have to get back to the party-realignment-era churn of Nixon at the national level and the breakup of the Byrd machine in Va., before you escape that opposite-party pattern.

    So: (1) Cooch leaves Goode on the ballot. Well, if Romney wins this fall, things are suddenly looking up for Terry McAuliffe and down for the Va GOP; (2) Cooch hesitates to endorse Allen: meh. You could read that through the prism of #1, or through his hesitating to jump on board simultaneously with Bolling’s endorsement, or as a desire to wait and get in that fight when the visibility is higher; (3) Cooch stiffs McDonnell on the Ports issue: who did McDonnell endorse for ’13 Governor, again?

    Before Cooch can worry about the ’13 general election (or the 2016 Presidential race), he needs to win his party’s nomination for governor. To do that he’s got to remain the golden boy of the Tea Party types: hard-right conservative, willing to buck the party establishment, and always in staunch opposition to Washington liberals. I think my unified theory of the Cooch explains more or less everything you’re puzzled by.

Comment Policy