Open Thread: Why the emotions about Cuccinelli?

Since 2002, I’ve noticed a phenomenon surrounding Ken Cuccinelli and it is even more true today than ten years ago.

Ken Cuccinelli elicits a super-intense emotional response, especially from the activist wings of both Parties.

I’ve talked to right-wingers who, excuse me for mixing metaphors, think Cuccinelli walks on water and will walk through fire to help him.

I’ve talked to Democrats who claim they’ll leave the state if he becomes Governor (hmmmmmm). They literally think the world will come to a cataclysmic halt if he is elected Governor.

I’ve talked to business people who react to him like they react to no one else. Bob Marshall doesn’t get this reaction.

He’s enough to make Bill Bolling ponder whether to challenge him as an Independent candidate.


Cuccinelli has a conservative record, but it’s really no more conservative than dozens of Republican politicians in Virginia. Heck, on the triggerman rule, he’s on side with the liberal Democrats.

But the facts of votes and accomplishments don’t seem matter to people when it comes to Ken Cuccinelli. The right loves him and the left hates him, and they both act a little crazy about it.

Why does Cuccinelli universally get such high-powered emotional reactions? Why?

  • Chad Parker

    Brian, when you say, “no more conservative than dozens of Republican politicians in Virginia,” how many of those dozens are elected to statewide office? Prior to his AG race, Cooch was a conservative in an otherwise liberal DC suburb, intensifying his conservatism. He then took that to the extreme in 2009, running as the social conservative to rally the base, while McDonnell and Bolling ran as job creating pragmatists. Since then, he hasn’t done much for himself to change the ultra conservative view others have of him. In fact, he embraces it, knowing that (at least until 2 days ago), it would be essential for securing a nomination. Are others at the same end of the political spectrum as he is? Perhaps. But Cooch is the personification of the far right, anti-establishment.

    And while on the subject of anti-establishment, the only thing worse than the establishment is the far right, gun tote’n, fundamentalist Tea Party-esque base that complain about it. I can’t stand the “wait your turn” mentality. I hate the seniority/party loyalty based hierarchies in the state and federal legislatures. People like Eric Cantor make my stomach turn. But unfortunately, when you have Bubba wearing his handgun to the local town festival “because it’s my right to, damn it!”, or Back Roads Baptist Church proclaiming homosexuals an abomination, or like minded quasi-politicos gathering over a Budweiser exchanging racist jokes between rants of how Obama and the Mexicans are ruining the country, you create a need for an organizational structure to weed out the bat shit crazies. So what you have are the few educated enough to maneuver through the system, up the political ranks, but seeking more power within their own organization. It’s enough to turn any open minded observer cynical.

    • EricMcGrane

      “fundamentalist tea party-esque base”

      OHZ NOEZ, hide your wimminz!

      lol, thanks for that

  • Loudoun GOPer

    The difference is not that Ken is a radical extremist. Ken upholds the very principles that are written in the Republican Party platform.
    The difference is that Ken Cuccinelli doesn’t just talk about being a conservative, he actually takes action to try and advance conservative principles. He, and others like him, are willing to take the slings and arrows of the media and the left if it means they will advance the conservative cause. They are less concerned about being safe and being liked, and more concerned with using the power they have been entrusted with to change the status quo. To actually make a difference.
    Where this causes problems for moderates is two-fold. The first problem is that it gets the left staging protests and making outrageous accusations that have no basis in truth, like the one this year where they claimed the Republican party was advocating state sanctioned rape of women. This gets the media writing all those mean stories about how nasty Republicans are and how out of touch they are with the American people, and THIS makes the moderate’s re-election prospects less safe.
    The second problem is that by introducing legislation on controversial topics, it forces the moderate’s to take a vote, and thereby a public stand, on a controversial topic. It makes them uncomfortable, because whenever you take a stand on a controversial topic, you make some group of people mad at you, and again, it makes the moderate’s re-election unsafe.

    So in the end, it really boils down to power. The attainment and holding of power. The people who hate Ken want to take power so they can hold it and be powerful. Ken wants to take power so he can use it try and advance conservative principles, even if it means he eventually loses his power. What Ken does makes it harder for Ken’s detractor’s to take and hold power.

    • Chad Parker

      Loudoun, you say “moderate” like it’s a bad thing. While it’s fun to sit around and argue your philosophy behind controversial topis, moderate leaders understand that being elected to public office means they represent their entire constituency, not just those who agree with them. Take abortion, for example. There are 2 distinct sides on this polarizing issue, each deeply rooted in an individual’s beliefs and identity. While you and I may feel that abortion is wrong, it is not an issue that will ever be solved: it’s legal, we argue for change; it’s made illegal, they argue for change.

      Moderates understand that the purpose of government is not to stir the pot by forcing votes on controversial issues, but to work with other elected representatives to achieve a safer community and climate more conducive to economic development.

      • EricMcGrane

        “Moderate” means that the conservative politician caves to the desires of the progressives.”Moderate” nearly never means that progressives cede ground to conservatives.

        “Moderate” typically means moving even further away from traditional Constitutional values/policies, and CHANGING from where we are now. In other words, discarding current values/traditions/policies.

        With America being the most successful experiment in governance ever on the planet, moving AWAY from that success doesn’t make a damn bit of sense.

        • Chad Parker

          Why the “us vs them” mentality? One’s political ideology is based on his background and life experiences. Why do you find it necessary to turn governance into a competition?

          • EricMcGrane

            Because its a competition. A competition of ideas. Elections are competitions. I don’t accept “we’re going to take just a little bit of your liberty, and you should allow me to do that because its the moderate position”. No thanks.

          • Chad Parker

            And therein lies the problem with partisan politics. You think that elections are a competition of ideas, when elections are competitions between would-be leaders. Good leaders understand their representation extends beyond their own beliefs, or even their party’s beliefs. Good leaders form their own ideology, work toward achieving their vision of an ideal society, but understand that they represent the interests of all of their constituents, many of whom have different philosophies. The key to good government and good leadership is not to plow down the minority to institute your view, but to work with all parties to achieve a common goal. It’s not a competition–it’s a collaboration.

          • Loudoun GOPer

            What color is the sky in your world, Chad?

          • Chad Parker

            Blue. Overcast today. Was there a point to this?

          • There’s never a point to it, Chad. Anybody who places solving problems and making progress is from another planet to these people. They don’t talk about real issues like taxes, transportation – things that you can see and fix. They’d prefer to talk in catchphrases and attack anybody who doesn’t see things their way. I’ve been dealing with this for a decade.

          • pinecone321

            Chad participates in what is considered “circular arguing.” No matter what anyone says or points out, there is never any solution or definitive answer to anything. It just keeps going round and round. I’ve also noticed that Chad seems to have the liberals language down pat. Common goal, collaboration, basing perspectives on other’s ideas, intolerance, vision of an ideal society aka utopia.

          • Chad Parker

            Sorry, pinecone, but I’m not going to water down an intellectual view of current politics to the least common “us vs them” denominator. Society is complex. The issues that impact society are complex.

          • EricMcGrane

            There nothing complex about your freedoms being stolen. They are or they aren’t. They aren’t “kinda” stolen.

            As much as you would likely hate to admit it, at some point you actually have to stand for something….and stand firm on that something.

      • pinecone321

        I have to laugh at your defense of “moderates.” Since the Nov. 6 election, you can go anywhere across the web, on many different sites, with many many comments on why Romney lost the election. A large majority of the articles, analysis, and commentors are screaming because we got stuck with another moderate RINO squish as our nominee. I am getting sick and tired of so many now calling for a third party. The Republicans are hopeless wastes, no better than the Democrats, with not a dime’s worth of difference between the R’s and the D’s. Have you read the vast amount of complaints about Boehner, Cantor and McDonnell who always seem to be able to snatch defeat from victory. They never negotiate in a manner that gains anything for the Republicans, they always give in to the Democrats. Have you read those ideas as often as I have.

        Ken Cuccinelli certainly has more name recognition as he has been in the national news often enough fighting against Obamacare, the EPA regulations, and a host of other issues. I have almost never seen Bill Bolling’s name in the news, other than when he was vocal about being Romney’s primary campaign chair, and so many don’t have such fond memories at having Romney and Paul only to chose from. If I am not mistaken, the presidential primaries in VA had a very exceedingly low turnout. There were some here screaming that we who supported other primary candidates just needed to shut up and sit down. Perhaps you may have been one of them. You saw how many took that advice and did just shut up and sit down, and refused to vote in the primary.

        OMG Cooch is actually one of those evil horrible horrendous social conservatives, who believes in traditional marriage and is anti abortion. Did the voters of VA vote to ban same sex marriage? Why I believe they did. Hurry, call the devil and ask him to light Cooch on fire because he is a believer with principles. How dare he. That’s it, that makes him unqualified because he takes a stand and doesn’t pander to the gays and to the abortion mills. OMG he might just outlaw abortions in VA., or he is surely going to have gays stoned to death in the public square. How rediculous you are.

        It is obvious Cooch is not your choice, so be it. You say you will vote for the Dem. over the Republican. You are part of the problem sir. If you would actually go and vote for a liberal for VA Gov. because your nose is in a snit because you didn’t get your guy, or someone who supports your personal issues, I’m not sure why anyone would even consider your voice or your ideas worthy of more than last weeks newspaper. If we wind up with the Dem as Gov., and the Obamacare insurance exchanges are in fact set up in VA., we can all remember to thank the Chad Parker’s of VA. Let’s see how well you manage to heat your home, or power your vehicle with wind or solar. Good luck with that.

        • Chad Parker

          “A large majority of the articles, analysis, and commentors are screaming
          because we got stuck with another moderate RINO squish as our nominee.”

          Pretty sure you’re just making up stuff now. Why did Romney lose? Because in order to win the primary, he had to appeal to the far right. Only after he won the nomination was he able to portray himself in the real Romney light. The 47% comment? Something you hear, I’m sure, around you or your like minded partisan friends’ dinner tables.

          It’s funny–I was just talking to a friend last night about how ridiculous people sound when they use the phrase “the gays.” It just oozes intolerance.

          Just based on your comments, its obvious that you and those like you are the reason politics has taken a turn for the worse. The educated individual will continue to examine his own views while comparing them with the perspectives of others’, thereby strengthening or evolving his ideology. Others (namely the fringes of both sides), will simply barricade their views within themselves, refusing any sense of self reflection.

          • pinecone321

            If you think I am making stuff up then I must believe that your web world is very limited. Not in the primaries, or in the general did Romney ever take any strong positions on any social issues. He said that he was pro-life, but that was after he previously was pro-choice as Gov. He said he supported traditional marriage, but that was after he sought the support of the Birchers when running for Mass. Gov. Wasn’t Mass the first state to support same sex marriage during Romney term as Gov.

            What would you prefer that I call those that prefer to have sex with the same gender? If you feel that the term Gay is intolerant, than I must say that those that are against traditional social values, and believe that it should not even be talked about by candidates or anyone in elected office is equally intolerant.

            I don’t have any desire to compare my views with other’s, just to make sure I am walking in lockstep. Isn’t that what the liberals do? God forbid any of them left the liberal reservation.

          • Chad Parker

            “A large majority of the articles, analysis, and commentors are screaming because we got stuck with another moderate RINO squish as our nominee”

            Yes, you are making up the fact that a “large majority” are making those claims.

            And no, the term “gay” is not intolerant. But the phrase “the gays” is. It’s like saying “the blacks.”

      • Loudoun GOPer

        “moderate leaders understand that being elected to public office means they represent their entire constituency, not just those who agree with them”
        This is a copout. Policiticians run for office with positions on the issues, and promises of what they will do if elected. Some people vote for them and some people don’t. When they win, they are expected to do what they said they would do. I have two Democrat US Senators and they can’t seem to be bothered to worry about my issues. They are not looking to compromise or “work with other elected representatives.”
        Let’s take your abortion example. Has the moderate philosophy of not doing anything on the issue stopped the Democrats from pushing forward on expanding their pro-abortion efforts? We have federal funding of abortion. We have Obamacare trying to force religious institutions to provide the morning after pill. It doesn’t sound like the pro-abortion side is looking to “work together.”
        In fact, have you seen any effort by the liberals to stop pushing THEIR social issues? On top of the pro-abortion issue, I still see gay marriage referendums on the ballot. I still see efforts to legalize marijuana. I still see assaults on religion. I still see radical environmentalists trying to destroy business and control where and how I live.
        The moderate position on these “controversial” issues basically amounts to surrender, while the Democrats keep pushing on. To top it all off, the moderates are also the first ones to cave in and demand tax and spending increases instead of trying to control spending.
        So you say that as a moderate you want to ignore half of the Republican Party platform by pushing social issues aside, and then you cave in on the other half of the Republican Party platform by raising taxes and spending on the economic side. And you wonder why I say moderate like it’s a bad thing?
        It wouldn’t be so bad if moderates didn’t then turn around and trash their fellow Republicans for actually standing up for the Party’s principles and it’s platform.

        • Chad Parker

          ” Policiticians run for office with positions on the issues, and promises of what they will do if elected.”

          Sure. But what I said was “leaders understand that being elected to public office means they
          represent their entire constituency, not just those who agree with them.”

          See the difference?

          • Loudoun GOPer

            Was Ronald Reagan a leader? He didn’t compromise his beliefs. He stated his beliefs clearly and when he was elected, he implemented those beliefs, and the country was better off for it.
            I state again. I have a Democrat President and two Democrat US Senators, and they don’t seem interested in representing me. Representing the entire constituency doesn’t mean only taking votes on things that everyone agrees with. That will never happen.
            Leaders do what they promised. Leaders fight for what they believe in. Great leaders are able to rally the people they represent to support them, even those who didn’t vote for them the first time, by effectively articulating their positions and demonstrating how those positions are good for the country or for their state.
            What you describe is not a leader. It is a follower.

          • Chad Parker

            I didn’t say anything about compromising beliefs. I said good leaders collaborate with others. They work across the aisle, not take a “damn the torpedoes” approach to governance.

          • pinecone321

            Thank you LoudounGOPer. That is exactly right, Reagan articulated his principles, and explained why they were best for the majority. He is the only president in my lifetime that was able to bring over Democrats to his side. He didn’t reach across the aisle and agree to compromise, he led, and others bought his visions. Yes you are so correct, Reagan led, the moderates wouldn’t have a clue as to what to support or not for fear of losing all of the single issue voters. When you try to be everything to everyone, you wind up being nothing to no one.

          • Reagan didn’t compromise his beliefs? So he vetoed those tax increases, right? Come on LG. It takes more than talk to make a leader. Reagan wasn’t just a talker, he was a doer, and in being a doer, there were times when he had to do something he otherwise wouldn’t have wanted to in order to move the ball forward. That’s real leadership, not just speechmaking.

          • Loudoun GOPer

            Let’s talk about those tax increases. Reagan did exactly what you say we should do and “compromised” with the Democrats. Reagan was supposed to get $3 in spending cuts from the Democrats for every $1 in tax increases. Did that happen???? NO! They reneged on their end of the deal and Reagan said it was the worst mistake he ever made.
            Fast forward to George HW Bush. Bush made a similar deal to raise taxes in return for spending cuts. Did the Democrats keep their end of the bargain??? NO! Of course not.
            Fast forward to today. Democrats are asking for tax increases yet again, and they are promising to agree to spending cuts….later…just not now…but we’ll cut that spending. We promise!
            That’s why Conservatives don’t ever want to raise taxes. Because it never solves the problem. Because the Democrats never keep their end of the deal.
            But you go ahead and keep running for full tilt toward that football, Charlie Brown. I’m sure Lucy won’t yank it out of the way this time.

          • pinecone321

            Candidates used to run for office based on their own sets of values and principles, even including the social issues. If you don’t like or agree with their positions, you vote for the other guy. See how that works?

            No candidate can be everything to everyone, none, nada, zip. Someone is going to disagree with them on some or all of their policies. If the majority of the voters vote for a particular candidate, they should expect that that is what the candidate will push for and try to accomplish if elected. We do not vote for pre-programmed robots.

          • Chad Parker

            No, good leaders run to lead, using their own philosophy as guidance, evolving to accommodate the needs of the majority and the minority. We don’t vote for pre-programmed robots. See how that works?

  • Bill Bolling let me down and now he is reminding me of Cartman..

  • DJRippert

    As an introduction, I vote about 65% Republican and 35% Democratic. In other words, I generally prefer the Republican positions but I won’t vote for anybody just because they have an (R) next to their name. I suspect that I’ll be casting a Democratic vote for governor next November. I will certainly wait and see what the candidates say and do over the next twelve months. However, if I had to vote today, I would vote for Terry Mcauliffe over Ken Cuccinelli. Why? Cuccinelli seems like yet another of those “politicians for life” that the Republican Party claims to hate but possess in great abundance. He isn’t really in favor of openness or transparency or he wouldn’t agitate for conventions over open primaries. He picks silly social causes instead of substantial issues. He announced his candidacy for governor months ago. What are his positions on job creation? transportation? funding of VRS pensions? education? Yeah, he doesn’t like gays – that makes him both wrong and less electable. He was willing to waste a lot of time and money trying to get e-mails from UVa from years ago. Not only did he fail but it’s hard to imagine what he might have accomplished if he got the e-mails. Continue to pillory Michael Mann? The guy is too young, has too little real world experience, has never managed anything and spends his days like Don Quixote – tilting at whatever random windmills happen to cross his path. He does not impress me as a serious man and does not seem qualified to be governor of Virginia.

    Now, Terry Mac has another set of issues. However, he’s been focused on jobs and job creation since his abortive run last time. He doesn’t spend his life sidetracked on social issues. He may be far from perfect but, right now, he’s better than Cuccinelli.

    As an aside, I gladly voted for Bob McDonnell and wish he could run again next November. My opposition to Cuccinelli is not ideological, it is practical. The man does not impress me as being ready to govern.

    • Chad Parker

      DJ, I agree with you on everything, except your analysis of T-Mac. He’s about as slimy as they come. I’d say he reminds me of a used car salesman, but I don’t want to insult that honorable profession.

      As of now, I’ll be casting my vote for Tareq Salahi.

      • Guest

        Chad. Agree. As of “right now” this will have to the first time I actually cannot even hold my nose and vote. I’ll turn into one of the missing 9 million white people, except it will be limited to not voting in Virginia.

  • pinecone321

    I would actually be thrilled if the Dems left the state because of a Cuccinelli Gov. Good riddance. Turn the state Red once and for all. Yeah.

    Cooch elicits such strong emotional responses because he takes a stand on the issues he cares about. He doesn’t try to pander to the special interest voters. He is passionate about what he believes in, and that is infectious. He respects that document called the Constitution, imagine that. Of course those that are afraid to take any stand on much of anything don’t rile the masses. They really are never sure where that candidate will stand on an issue, depending on where they are standing (geographically). Those candidates that are always trying to play it safe, God forbid they lose a squishy voter, don’t inspire as much passion with mostly anyone. You never know what they will do once in office with pressures coming from both parties, and in all directions. Those that take firm positions, backed by strong principles always manage to incite riots in some.

  • Grant

    I would say because he generally is open about his views states them bluntly. Sure, there politicians that are as conservative as him in their voting records, but when you hear them speak they moderate their tone or positions. Cuccinelli doesn’t which is why conservatives love him and liberals hate him.

  • DJRippert

    I wish all of you Cuccinelli supporters would read his campaign web site, Issues Tab. He says nothing about Transportation, Education or Jobs. His tab on Taxes and Spending is largely devoted to what he did between 2002 and 2007. Sorry, Ken … what will you do between 2014 and 2018. That’s the question. When he finally meanders into his plans as governor, he says, “As Governor, Ken will continue to support a free market environment for starting and growing business in the Commonwealth, including using his political influence to fight tax increases.”. Are high taxes really the biggest inhibitor to “starting and growing businesses in the Commonwealth”? Well, not in NoVa. The biggest inhibitor is the absolutely hideous state of the transportation system that was the handiwork of Mr. Cuccinelli and his friends in the General Assembly. Here’s my suggestion for his comment:

    “As Governor, Ken will recognize that job creation is a local or regional problem rather than a state-wide issue. Therefore, he will turn over the construction and maintenance of local roads to the counties in Virginia, as is the case in 44 other American states (and henrico and Arlington Counties in Virginia for that matter). The state-wide gas tax will be drastically reduced to the level required to manage the roads of statewide significance in the state. All counties will be granted the power to tax their citizens for transportation needs so long as the citizens of the county vote to approve the overall taxation structure put forth by county government.’.

    Now, I don’t know if Cuccinelli wants to do something like that or not. However, it is the kind of issue statement that would let everybody get past his social conservatism and into the meat of being governor. McDonnell was portrayed as a right wing wing nut early in the last election. There was Pat Robertson, Regent University and his thesis. However, McDonnell showed the good sense to stick with the big points of being governor and leave the culture war stuff on the sidelines. He not only won the election but turned into a very good governor as well. Even the liberal blog sites like BlueVirginia have been reduced to repeated attacks on Pat Robertson in lieu of any substantial points against Bob McDonnell.

  • Hamilton’s Ghost

    I think Cuccinelli is such a lightning rod for moderates/liberals b/c regardless of ideology, most people who run for Governor tend to realize it’s a big state w/a lot of different interests. And most Governors take that seriously. Partisans on the left and right may not appreciate it, but most Governors try to be inclusive of all sides. Tim Kaine isn’t exactly a rural guy, but I know a few farmers who ended up voting for him for Senate b/c he did pursue some helpful policies for ag interests when he was Governor. McDonnell’s announcement on wind today doesn’t necessarily comport with what some may assume, but he’s practical.

    Cuccinelli strikes neither side as someone who is going to be inclusive. You get the sense that if Cuccinelli is elected, he’s simply going to pursue what he wants and just say no to anything he disagrees with. And if it leads to bad consequences for the entire state, you get the sense that he would say, “Oh well. I’m doing what I want to do and nothing else.”

    This strikes Cuccinelli’s supporters as manna from heaven. They view it as “He’ll never give in.” But….to the left and moderates, it’s a rather terrifying prospect that someone in a chief executive position would have no ability to compromise.

    I’ve been in business for years. When you’re in business, you realize that you don’t get everything you want on almost any deal. But, you also realize that if you just hold out for a 100% type deal, you’ll probably go bankrupt. You have to have some flexibility to achieve your goals as an executive. Cuccinelli strikes almost everyone as an individual who doesn’t have flexibility. I think that’s what causes such strong feelings among his supporters and detractors.

    I will say this: I think Cuccinelli is a lot more myth in both his supporters and detractors minds. He has strong principles, but…..I think he probably has a pragmatic streak. He’s done a couple of things as AG that don’t necessarily fall into the usual GOP template.

  • I’ve been thinking about Brian’s question. I think the answer is no more complicated than this. Both the left and right are inclined to believe that Cuccinelli believes what he says and will act on it. Republicans tend to talk a good game at election time, then govern much like Democrats. Even Mitt Romney occasionally stumbled into a good conservative line. But those Republicans (see Bill Bolling and John Boehner) don’t scare Democrats at all. Nor do they inspire passion among those on the right who live for principle.

    I think that’s the reason. The Left desperately fears Cuccinelli is the real deal, based on his actions, and is panicked that he might become Gov. The principled Right dares to hope that he might be different from the budget-busting, stimulizing, “become more moderate” cold oatmeal that we’ve learned to expect from Washington and Richmond Republicans. It’s not Cuccinelli that inspires the emotion; it’s his ideas. It’s the prospect of a leader who views principles not as focus-group-tested strategy points to gain votes, but as something to fight for regardless of cost. That kind of leader gets things done, and Virginia hasn’t had one in a while. Thus, your emotion.

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