DANVILLE, Va. – The race for Virginia’s governor may be remembered for how many shoes will drop before Election Day.
In that race, voters will chose between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and right-wing zealot and current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Democrats are hoping that the extreme ticket of Cuccinelli for governor, Bishop E.W. Jackson for the No. 2 spot of lieutenant governor, and State Senator Mark Obenshain for attorney general will be too much for state voters to stomach.
Virginia was in President Obama’s column in 2008 and 2012; however, the state has a tradition of trending to back the right in off-year elections. Polls show the race essentially tied, with a slight advantage to McAuliffe.
Republicans thought they had found McAuliffe’s weak point after a car plant that he had announced would be built in Virginia was moved to the Deep South. McAuliffe’s responses that the plan fell through because state officials didn’t work with him fell flat with political fact-checkers. Nor did it help that McAuliffe quietly stepped away as head of the company involved.
Thankfully, Republicans have an excellent reputation when it comes to walking into their own ethical and financial catastrophes.
The spotlight shifted to Cuccinelli, who may have accepted illegal campaign contributions. Let’s not forgot the man Cuccinelli hopes to replace, Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, is beginning to recover from memory lapses regarding why he did not report thousands in cash and gifts to himself and a family member from a wealthy contributor, including $15,000 to pay for his daughter’s wedding reception.
In Virginia, sanctions for such foibles amount to a slap on the wrist even if he’s convicted.
Money won’t be a problem for either Cuccinelli or McAuliffe. Cuccinelli is siting on a $2.7 million war chest, compared to $5.4 million for McAuliffe, a former Democratic Committee chair and a wealthy businessman.
The Koch brothers have donated $35,000 so far to Cuccinelli along with hundreds of thousands of dollars coming from big oil, mining, energy, banks and insurance companies.
Further down on the ticket, now that the June 11 primary is over, voters will have a choice between “mainstream Democrat” Ralph Northam, a state senator from Norfolk who nearly defected to the GOP two years ago, and the Rev. E.W. Jackson, who appears to be building a bonfire of incendiary comments based on his hatred of the Democratic Party, women and gays. Jackson, a Tidewater minster, could be Virginia’s version of Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell minus the witch comparison.
An MSNBC blog reported that, “The Republican nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia E.W. Jackson compared abortion, pornography, in-vitro fertilization and cloning to Hitler and Stalin in his 2008 book ‘The Ten Commandments to an Extraordinary Life.'”
Jackson also compared Planned Parenthood to the KKK. He also stated that evolution is not factual because animals can’t talk.
Northam describes himself as conservative on fiscal issues and liberal on social issues. He was endorsed by the VIrginia Education Association, the Washington Post and Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood. Northam sponsored legislation that would have set up health care exchanges to provide insurance to thousands of VIrginians. He has championed gun reform in Virginia. He supports a ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines and universal background checks for gun purchasers.
State Sens. Mark Obenshain and Mark Herring will face each other for attorney general.
Obenshain is the son of Richard Obenshain, a former Virginia GOP chairman, who was successful in getting conservative Democrats to leave the party and join the GOP.
The younger Obenshain sees himself as the next Cuccinelli. He is a solid supporter of gun rights advocates. Firearms should be allowed in schools, bars and government buildings, according to Obenshain.
Herring is making a case that he will support civil rights groups challenging voter photo ID laws. He wants the male-dominated legislature to get out of the way of women’s health care rights. Herring was named the Champion of Justice by the Virginia Association of Commonwealth Attorneys because of the position he took on designer drugs and protecting victims of domestic violence.
Photo: Far-right Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, the current attorney general, speaking at the 2012 “Liberty Political Action Conference” in Chantilly, Va. Gage Skidmore CC 2.0