What do you do when you can't win 'em all?

 Of all the tiny bits of electoral arcana hidden in the Code of Virginia’s candidates and elections section (24.2-520, for those playing along at home), the most amusingly named has to be the so-called “Sore Loser” law. This little-known provision, probably inserted at the behest of a disgruntled candidate on the losing end of a three-way race, requires anyone running in a primary to sign a statement acknowledging that, should they lose, their name cannot appear on the general election ballot.

Afer losing the Attorney General election to Ken Cuccinelli, Steve Shannon (pictured) is keeping close watch on Cooch’s fundraising efforts.

The practical result of this, of course, is that most major elections in Virginia are effectively two-person affairs, with the various and sundry Indy Greens, Libertarian Party and quixotic Independent candidates mere footnotes to the marquee match-up. But every once in a while one of these third-party candidates has a real effect on the race, even if they don’t win it outright.

Just such a possibility is currently brewing in the Fifth District congressional race, where State Senator Robert Hurt recently bested six opponents to become the Republican’s official challenger to freshman Representative Tom Perriello. The problem is that a not-insignificant slice of the commonwealth’s right flank considers Hurt insufficiently conservative, and one of them—Danville business owner Jeffrey Clark—has decided to voice his displeasure by running as a Tea Party Independent in the November election.

Now whether or not Clark will have any real effect on the race remains to be seen (Hurt has already moved to exclude him from the official debates), but there’s little doubt that Perriello will do everything in his power to raise Clark’s profile. And in a race that promises to be one of the tightest in the nation, there’s a real chance that Clark will siphon off just enough GOP votes to send Hurt sulking off to the sore loser’s lounge.

In other intriguing news, a recent resident of that very lounge has suddenly reemerged, and boy is he pissed! We’re talking about defeated Attorney General aspirant Steve Shannon, who lost his bid to be Virginia’s top cop to current AG Ken Cuccinelli. Writing in Norfolk’s Virginian-Pilot, Shannon recently penned an editorial that all but accused Cuccinelli of having an unethical, pay-for-play relationship with one of his donors, Bobby Thompson. You may recall Thompson as the now-missing head of U.S. Navy Veterans Association, an apparently fraudulent fundraising outfit that reportedly earned $2.6 million in Virginia in 2009, and in doing so ran afoul of the state’s Office of Consumer Affairs (OCA).

The details are complicated, but the timetable Shannon lays out is straightforward, and fairly damning. Basically, Thompson gave Cuccinelli’s campaign five grand, and four days later the Cooch publicly promised that, should he be elected, he would fold the OCA’s responsibilities into the protective embrace of the AG’s office. Then Thompson ponied up another $50,000 and, less than three weeks later, Cuccinelli held a press conference to push the same idea all over again. Making matters worse, the AG has shown little interest in pursuing a case against Thompson, and has thus far refused to relinquish the tainted $55,000.

And how did the Cuccinelli camp respond to Shannon’s substantive, troubling accusations, you ask? Well, when contacted by the Washington Post, political director Noah Wall had a succinct, two-word reply: “Sore loser.” Seems like there’s a lot of that going around.

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