Cuccinelli vs. McAuliffe for governor—can we really be that lucky?


Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. File photo. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. File photo.

Wow. Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that we were complaining about a dearth of electoral excitement ’round these parts? Well, in a classic case of “be careful what you wish for,” the ink on our last column was barely dry when the Commonwealth’s biggest political players went on a collective news-making spree.

It all started with an unexpected announcement from Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, who held a press conference the Wednesday after Thanksgiving to reveal that he was dropping his bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, all but assuring that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will be the GOP nominee. Bolling’s decision, it should be noted, wasn’t completely out of the blue. After all, one only needed to look at the available polling (and the fact that state Republicans have decided to eschew a primary this year in favor of a Cooch-friendly nominating convention) to see that Bolling had an extremely tough road to the nomination. As the man himself mused to reporters (quoting the wise old sage Dirty Harry), “a man’s got to know his limitations.”

Of course, this announcement doesn’t preclude the possibility that Bolling might run for governor as an independent. He certainly didn’t rule it out, and pointedly refused to endorse Cuccinelli, noting acidly that he had “serious reservations about [Cuccinelli’s] ability to effectively and responsibly lead the state.”

At that point, all eyes swung over to the donkeys’ side, where 2009 also-ran Terry McAuliffe was the sole announced Democratic candidate for governor. The Macker had already dodged one bullet when the still-popular former Governor (and current senator) Mark Warner announced over the holidays that he had no interest in getting his old job back. But a growing chorus of voices on the left wanted Charlottesville’s ex-U.S. Representative Tom Perriello to step into the race. Now, many progressives will readily admit that McAuliffe is an affable money man with great connections (Bill Clinton chief among them), but they fear that his lack of governing experience and pro-business mindset will make him a terrible Democratic standard-bearer. (And McAuliffe certainly didn’t do much to allay these fears with his completely lackluster ’09 campaign.)

But those liberal dreams of a Perriello candidacy were sadly not to be. Exactly one week after Bolling terminated his campaign, Perriello released a statement to the left-leaning blog Blue Virginia declaring, in no uncertain terms, “I do not feel called to serve in elected office at this time.” But unlike Bolling’s scorched-earth exit from the race, Perriello went out of his way to compliment McAuliffe, and promised that he “will be supporting Terry and all of those who are willing to put their names on the ballot.”

But will anyone actually step up to challenge either McAuliffe or Cuccinelli? At this point, that seems highly unlikely. Which means that—praise Santa!—Christmas has come early here at Odd Dominion headquarters. After all, there was nothing we wanted more than to watch the Cooch and the Macker face off in an epic electoral battle for Virginia’s political soul. And now that every credible challenger on both sides has fallen away, it looks like we get to watch these two highly entertaining goofballs smack each other around for an entire year.

Best. Christmas. Present. Ever.

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