Ken Cuccinelli will be the next Governor of VirginiaFeaturedPoliticsVirginia

With Bill Bolling and Tom Perriello both out of the gubernatorial race, we’re down to two candidates – Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe. Given the thrashing President Obama did to Mitt Romney in Virginia, particularly in Northern Virginia, and given McAuliffe’s name recognition and money, it would be easy to consider him the immediate front runner.  The left certainly thinks they’ve got the upper hand, and their parrots on the blogs have already started calling 2013 their year after four years of losing badly at the state level.

They’re wrong.  You heard it here first, folks, and from as unlikely a source as you’ll find on Bearing Drift.  Ken Cuccinelli is going to be the next Governor of Virginia.  And that’s coming from me, everybody’s favorite RINO.

I’m sure some of you are scratching your heads at this one.  I haven’t always agreed with the Attorney General on policy or politics, but I have always respected him.  Why?  Because he is one of the smartest, most deep thinking politicians I’ve ever met.  He has demonstrated this fact again and again over his career, and he’s made that career by blowing away expectations and pulling off upset victories that few saw coming.  I do my best to be as objective an observer as I can be, and my objectivity tells me that Ken is going to win next year, for a variety of reasons.

First, he’s probably the only candidate in Virginia who can unite all of the various sections and camps of the Republican Party into one.  He has the respect of establishment Republicans like me for his political skills and his ability to win.  He was one of the first elected officials to embrace the Tea Party movement – the first time I recall seeing a Gadsden flag in Virginia politics was at the 2009 Republican convention when Ken’s troops marched into the arena with yellow shirts and giant flags and the place exploded.  And he’s even earned the respect of the libertarian wing of the party, no small feat for anyone holding elected office.  Base turnout is not going to be a problem in this election.

Many people like to try to split the party into groups – establishment and outsiders, Tea Party, libertarians, etc.  The reality is that things are a lot simpler than that.  The Meyers-Briggs test, which most of us have taken at some point, has as one of its four categories “Thinking/Feeling.”  It may be an oversimplification, but I view many party breakdowns along those lines.  There are the Bill Buckleys in the party – those of us who focus on logical solutions, grounded in conservatism, who care about policy and the in-the-weeds solutions to problems.  Then there are the Ronald Reagans in the party – the folks who want to be moved by a rousing speech, an appeal to emotion, to feel that their candidate is one of them, someone who gets it, and someone who shares their principles, whatever they may be.  Some folks are a little of both.  Ken’s focus on policy as AG, his suits against the EPA and against Obamacare, as well as his principled stand on issues like the Triggerman rule appeal to the thinkers.  Ken’s social conservatism – something he’s never run away from – and his commitment to life and issues that the social conservative side of the party care about appeals to the feelers.  They know he’s like them, and he doesn’t need to try and prove anything.  He’s already proven it.  To win, you need to convince the thinkers and move the feelers and Ken can and has done both.

Second, he’s smart and he’s disciplined.  As much as the Democrats want to claim that Ken is their dream candidate, he’s really not.  They want Todd Akin.  Or Richard Mourdock.  Or Christine O’Donnell.  Or Sharron Angle.  Ken is none of these.  He’s a veteran legislator, a gifted attorney and he’s managed to win races where he’s come from behind and pulled out wins.  His first nomination set the tone for the rest of his career, first beating Mike Thompson – who had the support of the Fairfax Republican establishment, including sitting Congressman and former Fairfax Board of Supervisors Chairman Tom Davis – in a firehouse primary no one expected him to win.  He then went on to beat Fairfax County School Board member Cathy Belter 54-45.  He withstood a challenge from popular Democrat Janet Oleszek in 2007, and stomped former Delegate Steve Shannon for Attorney General – after winning a 3 way primary for AG, the only really contested race in 2009.  He knows how to win.  He has the message discipline to focus on what matters and not allow himself to stray into dangerous territory that the other side is salivating to get him into.  He doesn’t need to waste any time convincing Republicans who he is – they already know.  He can market himself to the middle from the very beginning of this race by talking about what he’s done as Attorney General, and his record there is stellar.

One of the things that has always struck me about Ken is he is always a few steps ahead of his opponents.  His play in packing the State Central Committee was nothing short of masterful.  It was something many saw coming, but no one was capable of doing anything about.  It’s that kind of chess-like approach to politics that always has him seeing solutions to problems that others just don’t see.  And that’s how he was able to outmaneuver Bill Bolling – another smart, talented elected official – and get him out of the race without having to face the bloody battlefield we were all expecting this May.  That was one of the most deft moves I’ve seen in Virginia politics lately, and it just may have saved us all this year.

The Democrats were counting on us moving into the general election divided, angry, coming off a very tough primary for governor that would weaken us as a whole.  Ken ensured that didn’t happen by out thinking his opponent and winning the battle before it even began – something straight out of Sun Tzu.  If he can do that to someone like Bill Bolling, what do you think he’s going to be able to do against a neophyte like Terry McAuliffe?

Finally, the Democrats did us a big favor in not selecting their most electable candidate, Senator Mark Warner, and instead going with yet another former DNC Chairman.  Terry McAuliffe has never held elective office.  He’s been a fundraiser.  He’s been a talking head and a businessman.  The electorate just showed what it thought about electing a businessman to office – they don’t care how much money you make in business.  And while he’ll be sure to get President Obama and President Clinton down here out on the stump for him, Virginia’s inclination to elect a Governor of the opposite party of the President also works in Ken’s favor.  Throw in the fact that the left-wing blogosphere isn’t that enthusiastic about McAuliffe anyway, and I’m betting we’re going to see the opposite of what happened in 2012 happen next year – Democrats stay home, while Republicans come out in droves.  And that means Ken Cuccinelli is going to pull off another win.

A lot of people have bet a lot of money against Ken and they’ve lost every time – I know, because I was one of them.  A lot of folks are going to bet against him this time, saying the same things they’ve always said – he’s unelectable, he’s too conservative, and the like.  Everytime that’s been said, they’ve been wrong.  And they’ll be wrong again this year.

My bet – and my vote – is on Ken in 2013.

  • Larsele

    Could not possibly agree more!

  • George Templeton

    I’d love to agree with every word of this but certain folks in the GOP will work to undermine Cuccinelli wherever they can (and may yet encourage a third-party run for Bill Bolling) and they will probably vote for McAuliffe out of spite.

    • http://www.facebook.com/craig.m.kilby Craig M Kilby

      Probably more likely they won’t vote at all.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1427002848 James Cohen

      Let the republican party renew itself. If there are certain folks in the party who wish to undermine the party, let them go. Its beconing clearer who the republicans of the recent past really are and it shows independent conservatives that our party has the potential to welcome them back. Bob McDonnell was a unifier for 2009. Ken is a unifier for 2013. Conservatives who either left the GOP or have not yet made the decision to become active as a member of our party need a unifier.

      Brian, this is the best piece of writing I have seen from you man. Kudos. This deserves to be liked and shared all across this state on facebook and other pages. Where is the like button?

  • Craig Storrs

    Brian — couldn’t have said it better myself. Absolutely brilliant write-up!

  • http://www.facebook.com/craig.m.kilby Craig M Kilby

    “One of the things that has always struck me about Ken is he is always a
    few steps ahead of his opponents. His play in packing the State Central
    Committee was nothing short of masterful. It was something many saw
    coming, but no one was capable of doing anything about. It’s that kind
    of chess-like approach to politics that always has him seeing solutions
    to problems that others just don’t see. And that’s how he was able to
    outmaneuver Bill Bolling – another smart, talented elected official –
    and get him out of the race without having to face the bloody
    battlefield we were all expecting this May. That was one of the most
    deft moves I’ve seen in Virginia politics lately, and it just may have
    saved us all this year.”

    Priceless, Brian. “Packing the State Central Committee. ” Pull it off.” Politics as nothing but a chess game. How deep in the tank have you sunk? Then you threw twice again:

    “he’s made that career by blowing away expectations and pulling off upset victories”

    and

    “And that means Ken Cuccinelli is going to pull off another win.”

    “Pull it off?” Not a term I would use for a candidate I support.

    • http://twitter.com/BrianSchoeneman Brian W. Schoeneman

      Craig, I use the phrase “pull off a win” all the time – whether I’m talking about a the Redskins or politics. Nothing sinister about that phrase. As for the chess game analogy, it was just that – an analogy. Ken has made a career out of out thinking and out working his opponents. I give him a lot of credit for that.

      There is more to politics at this level than just elections. Ken has proven he understands that and has made it work for him. I respect that.

      • http://www.facebook.com/craig.m.kilby Craig M Kilby

        Sinister? No. Cynical, yes.You can put all the lipstick, rouge and eye-liner you want on this pig. I ain’t buyin’ it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/BrianSFairfax Brian W. Schoeneman

          I call it like I see it, Craig.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.kirwin Brian Kirwin

    Heard it here first? Not hardly. I’ve been saying that for months. Hundreds have said it since the decision was made to switch to a convention. Maybe you heard it here first.

    • http://www.facebook.com/BrianSFairfax Brian W. Schoeneman

      A lot of folks have been saying he’d be the nominee. Not as many have been saying he’ll be Governor.

      • http://www.facebook.com/brian.kirwin Brian Kirwin

        Virginian-Pilot last week – “If history is a guide, Virginians, after voting for Obama this year, will vote for Ken Cuccinelli for governor next year.”

        • http://twitter.com/BrianSchoeneman Brian W. Schoeneman

          Who reads the Pilot?

          • http://www.facebook.com/brian.kirwin Brian Kirwin

            Anytime Bearing Drift would like to compare hits to Pilotonline.com…..

          • http://www.facebook.com/BrianSFairfax Brian W. Schoeneman

            You writing over there now or something?

          • http://www.facebook.com/brian.kirwin Brian Kirwin

            Well, the Pilot editor’s wife doesn’t cry when someone hold a different view.

          • http://www.southsidecentral.com/ Bruce Hedrick

            Wow.

  • MD Russ

    Brian,

    Good use of Myers-Briggs type indicators to make a valid point. BTW, I am an ESPN. And you most certainly are not a RINO.

  • http://www.facebook.com/michaelj.barrett.355 Michael J Barrett

    Of course it might be appropriate to actually have an election before proclaiming victory. After all, republicans were so sure that Romney would win that they were actually shocked when he was defeated so soundly. And if I am not mistaken, he was beated badly in Virginia as well.
    But it is a fair point that the electorate is much different in the off season elections than in Presidential elections, and honestly, those for whom no taxes is the rallying cry do better when fewer show up. But it is also fair to point of that Cuccinelli will bring baggage to this election that could cause moderates and even main line republicans to sit this out.
    The republican assault on the condition of our Commonwealth will continue unabated in the next year, and if democrats are willing to boldly step forward to enumerate the damage that has been done, then democrats can win. Voters love no taxes until the effect of that policy makes them realize how badly it affects them. We’ll see.

    • MD Russ

      Michael,

      Obama won nationwide by a popular vote margin of 51-47. His margin in Virginia was also 51-47. Four points does not constitute a landslide. Gov. McDonnell’s approval rating remains well over 50, despite the UVA dust-up, the abortion ultrasound silliness, and other attempts by social conservatives to sabotage his legislative agenda. He has balanced the state budget, reduced unemployment by 2 points, and increased spending for transportation and education. In short, he has been more effective and remains more popular that Barack Obama. But since he has an “R” after his name, you wouldn’t give him any credit if he cured cancer.

      • http://www.facebook.com/michaelj.barrett.355 Michael J Barrett

        Yes, you are correct. A decisive victory, not a landslide. Of course, Mr. Kaine did even better, and Mark Warner would win this race in a landslide. Now what do those results say to us about Cuccinelli’s bid? Frankly, he is so divisive and radical that many will dismiss him, but he, like McDonnell, does have the benefit of personality over actual performance. Why some Virginians like these failed political leaders is beyond me, but the fact is, some do. But a point in time will come when voters decide in mass that the defects caused by a generation of republican control and hence failure is responsible for the well documented deficiencies of this Commonwealth. Then, he and they will pay.

        • MD Russ

          And yet, in all the polls right now, in a head-to-head match-up of Cuccinelli against T-Mac, they both get 40% with 20% undecided.

          Cuccinelli isn’t running against Mark Warner, any more than Obama was running against Christie, Daniels, or a number of other Republicans who would have done better than Romney. And neither Cuccinelli nor McDonnell has the benefit of “personality over actual performance.” Just because you don’t like what they have accomplished in elected office, doesn’t mean that it was meaningless. If you want to talk about personally over actual performance, then tell us what elected office T-Mac has ever held and what he accomplished.

          In Virginia, like a lot of other states, action talks and bullshit walks. T-Mac is self-propelled bullshit and has nothing going for him except his friendship with the Clintons, which is hardly a recommendation in Virginia. Hell, even most Democrats in Virginia don’t like him. I predict that the undecided vote will largely swing to Cuccinelli as the voters downstate come to get to know the clown in the Hawaiian shirt with the bottle of rum.

          • http://www.facebook.com/michaelj.barrett.355 Michael J Barrett

            Frankly, if as you say the polls are even right now, that certainly does not bode well for Cuccinelli.

          • http://www.facebook.com/craig.m.kilby Craig M Kilby

            Polls right now are just a base-line party ID vote. Nothing more. Neither one of them enjoys wide-spread name ID. As the brand gets defined, I think they will go with the party guy over the bible thumper, to the extent they even give a shit. Which in this case is where I predict most of the remaining 20% will land. YAWN.

          • http://www.facebook.com/craig.m.kilby Craig M Kilby

            MD predicts: “Hell, even most Democrats in Virginia don’t like him. I predict that the
            undecided vote will largely swing to Cuccinelli as the voters downstate
            come to get to know the clown in the Hawaiian shirt with the bottle of
            rum.” –hmmm. Shall I vote for the bible thumper, the party guy, or just not vote at all?

          • MD Russ

            Craig,

            Same choice you had in 2012: should you vote for the Mormon misogynistic or for the incompetent liberal who failed to revive the economy in four years, or just not vote at all?

      • http://www.facebook.com/craig.m.kilby Craig M Kilby

        MD Russ wrote: “Gov. McDonnell’s approval rating remains well over 50, despite the UVA
        dust-up, the abortion ultrasound silliness, and other attempts by social
        conservatives to sabotage his legislative agenda.” — you forgot the gay judge thing, which was a really ugly black eye.

        • MD Russ

          So what’s your point, Craig?

  • DJRippert

    Interesting article and comments. Let’s see … the Democrats have put forth a party insider with no experience in elected office. His only political credentials are based on his positions of leadership within the Democratic Party. In fact, the guy didn’t even live in Virginia until he came to DC for college. The one time the guy did run he lost. The Republicans have the sitting Attorney General of Virginia. The Republican candidate is a proven winner and clever politician. The Democratic candidate will try to run on his business credentials.

    Of course, I am referring to the 2001 election where Mark Warner defeated Mark Early by a 52 / 48 vote.

    All of you self proclaimed expert prognosticators better go back and take a long, hard look at the 2001 election.

    This thing is wide open.

    • Chris Beer

      Several problems with your logic here.

      1. Warner didn’t parachute into Virginia to run for office. He had been active in Virginia Democratic politics for years. He had managed Doug Wilder’s campaign in 1989, been Chairman of DPV, and ran as the Democratic nominee for the US Senate in 1996. He didn’t, like T-Mac, jump into a low-turnout primary and lose. Warner spent nearly ten years working the state in order build an organization, name-ID, and a message to win votes.

      2. Earley had a bloody convention battle with John Hager, Cuccinelli is running without opposition thanks to Mr. Bolling’s “selfless” decision to suspend his campaign.

      3. Earley made have been a social conservative, but he was also pro-labor from his old Democrat background and that alienated many old small “c” conservative voters who found the moderate message and business background of Warner more appealing.

      But your right, it is wide open and every campaign is defined by its competitors. We only can start comparing it to another race until its over. But to compare Terry McAuliffe, a hack moneybag man of the Clintons, to Mark Warner is frankly insulting to Mark Warner and all the work he did to organize the state and his party for nearly a decade of resurgence.

      • DJRippert

        Chris:

        There are definitely differences. However, Early was very divisive with his decision as AG not to prosecute Pat Robertson. Cuccinelli has aroused passions over a variety of issues during his term term as AG. Controversial Republicans bring out the Democratic base.

        However, my main point is that people who say that a man who never held elected office is bound to lose are forgetting recent Virginia history.

        Frankly, in the 2001 election, the biggest difference between Warner and Early may have been that Warner outspent Early 2:1.

        How do you think the spending will pan out in this election? I figure T-Mac will dramatically out raise and out spend Cooch.

        This is from the article, “Terry McAuliffe has never held elective office. He’s been a fundraiser. He’s been a talking head and a businessman.”.

        Hmmmm ….

        Couldn’t you replace “Terry McAuliffe” with “Mark Warner” in that sentence?

        Overconfidence is looming large among Virginia Republicans right now.

        • DJRippert

          And … as an aside … “Terry McAuliffe has never held elective office. He’s been a fundraiser. He’s been a talking head and a businessman.”.

          Do you “conservatives” now believe that professional politicians are preferable to those who have never held elected office? By the by – what was the first elected office held by Ronald Reagan? He worked in the national party for the presidential campaign (Goldwater) and then ran for governor. Sound familiar. Would authors on this blog pillory Reagan for “never having held elected office”?

          Is being a fundraiser wrong? Reagan was a fundraiser for Goldwater. His “A Time for Choosing” speech raised $1M for Goldwater and launched Reagan political career. Would authors on this blog pillory Reagan for being a fundraiser?

          Reagan was an actor. McAuliffe was a “talking head.”

          Finally (and most importantly) – McAuliffe deserves scorn for being a businessman?

          When it comes to personalities and backgrounds, successful businessman McAuliffe looks a lot like Romney while ideologue and professional politician Cuccinelli looks a lot like Obama.

          Now, you may say that their philosophies and policies are polar opposites. Fine. Let’s start talking about their policies and stop talking about the fatal flaw of McAuliffe having never held elected office.

          • http://twitter.com/BrianSchoeneman Brian W. Schoeneman

            I have always preferred experienced elected officials for statewide offices. I have made that abundantly clear in my writing. Reagan ran in a different state at a different time. As for being a businessman, the electorate has tended to reject candidates who run solely as business people lately – Jon Corzine and Michael Bloomberg as the exceptions. Carly Fiornia, Meg Whitman, Linda McMahon, Mitt Romney, just to name a few, have all lost despite spending considerable amounts of money. It just doesn’t appear to translate into electoral success, and I doubt McAuliffe is going to break that trend.

          • http://www.facebook.com/david.eggleston.963 David Eggleston

            McAuliffe will have more money with which to campaign. Obama, with a few exceptions, consistently out-raised Mitt Romney. And if the Media could demonize Romney, they’ll have a field day with the Cooch.

          • DJRippert

            That is exactly the way that the RPV should be thinking. Rather than deifying Ken Cuccinelli as the conservative boy genius in Virginia the Republicans should be wondering how to prevent a 2012 Democratic turnout in 2013. Expect McAuliffe to use his money and campaign savvy to constantly bring Cuccinelli’s conservative actions as AG to the attention of voters in Democratic strongholds like Arlington County. If McAuliffe gets out the vote, McAuliffe wins.

          • http://www.facebook.com/BrianSFairfax Brian W. Schoeneman

            We don’t need to worry about how to prevent a 2012 Democratic turnout in 2013. It’s simply not going to happen. Turnout in gubenatorial years is always between 40-50%. It’s never in the 75-80% of a presidential year. That’s not the issue. Ken’s record as AG isn’t hyper conservative. He’s done the job as even handedly as he could, even though there were some issues I’ve disagreed with him. McAuliffe would be wasting his time trying to attack Ken’s record as AG. It’s not hard to figure out how to win statewide campaigns in Virginia and McAuliffe and Ken both know what they need to do. Ken, unlike Terry, has actually had to execute this stuff and he’s done it well. Experience counts.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1427002848 James Cohen

            Republicans #1 tool for GOTV is sitting in the WH.

          • DJRippert

            What was Mitt Romney’s first elected office? Governor? And what background did he highlight to win that election? Businessman?

            As for your list of recent losers who were businessmen and businesswomen…. were they also all Republicans too?

            Cuccinelli is a lightening rod for controversy. If you think the negatives of Cuccinelli are outweighed by the negatives of McAuliffe never having held office or being a businessman – I’d like to lease you my rights to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.

          • http://www.facebook.com/BrianSFairfax Brian W. Schoeneman

            That was over a decade ago. That argument hasn’t worked lately – not since the 2008 meltdown. Yes, Ken is a lightning rod for controversy, but he also has the discipline to tone it down. McAuliffe has more negatives than my brief outline here.

    • http://twitter.com/BrianSchoeneman Brian W. Schoeneman

      Lots of differences between 2001 and 2012, not the least of which is Barack Obama in the White House. And Terry McAullife isn’t Mark Warner, either.

      • DJRippert

        Mark Warner wasn’t Mark Warner in 2001. He had recently come off an unsuccessful bid to replace John Warner in the US Senate. Mark Warner became Mark Warner after his tenure as governor. Mark Warner (circa 2001) was a whole lot like Terry McAulliffe (Circa 2012).

        • Chris Beer

          Dude, its not even close. Did you not read what I said? Warner was state party chairman, campaign manager for Doug Wilder, and in his Senate race he over-performed against an strong incumbent. He spent almost a decade in the muck and mire of party politics and traveled the state extensively. The only comparison is they both have money. Warner took the time to learn the state at a unit-committee level. T-Mac has done none of that. Just because they are both rich millionaires doesn’t mean they are in any way alike.

      • DJRippert

        As for Barack Obama in the White House – I suspect that will be a non-issue in 2013. Unless there is a serious economic meltdown between now and next November (probability = 10%) Obama won’t matter. There will be no backlash like there was in 2009.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1427002848 James Cohen

          DJ, if what I am hearing and seeing now is any indication, Obama will ensure a massive republican GOTV effort. If the GOP doies not screw this up we have a tsunami of out of state support. Ground troops from texas, SC, NC..

  • Jay Hughes

    If I’ve learned one thing from Virginia’s performance in the last two Presidential elections it’s that trends are made to be broken.

  • Pingback: Everything You Need to Know About the Virginia Governor’s Race | The American Conservative

  • Pingback: Everything You Need to Know About the Virginia Governor’s Race | Tony Johnson

  • Pingback: Why the NVTC endorsement matters | Bearing Drift

  • battled1

    Cuccinelli is a dynamic, bright person. I’ve personally worked with him on state policy issues. I noticed that he was incredibly single-minded and ambitious. That said, I kept hearing from everyone about he had been an outcast and a total joke amongst his own conservative VA Republican caucus for his extreme views and often inexplicable voting record. The combination of someone being THAT driven AND holding extreme views that definitely do NOT represent the majority of Virginia residents is a frightening concept. His nickname among the Republicans and the staff at the legislature was “Kook.” honestly! I never heard the very experienced staff ever express such concerns about any other legislator in Virginia… It was disturbing!!…

    By the way, it’s 90 degrees today in October here in Virginia. But, Mr. Cucinnelli denies any possibility of global warming/climate change vs. almost every scientist on the planet! -?? In fact, he ordered his law enforcement office to persecute climatologists at UVA!! That is NOT ETHICAL. Fanaticism is very dangerous. Now I’m starting to understand why the other legislators and staff found him to be disturbing… On a personal level, he seemed nice, but he was called “Kook” by experts at the Legislature who actually knew his professional record and actions from the beginning!…

  • califdemdreamer

    He won’t be the next governor, and I’ll be back to remind you that you were wrong when he’s defeated.

  • Pingback: Democrats Plan Invasion of Texas to Impose Their Foreign Values | Sara for America