McDonnell sends Cuccinelli a signal

small_4956189312Governor Bob McDonnell is sitting down to chat with former DPVA chairman Paul Goldman about one of Paul’s favorite topics: convincing Congress to extend the availability of historic tax credits to rehabilitate public schools.

It’s an idea the Cuccinelli campaign recently embraced, following in the long line of Virginia politicians who’ve signed-on to the concept.

The question is why the Governor — who has been on board for some time — is taking this high-profile move with Goldman. It could be a repeat of recent gubernatorial history, where Governors in the waning weeks of their terms seek to nudge the candidates hoping to succeed them to get back to issues. in other words, it’s a tweak.

But it could also be a signal to the Cuccinelli campaign. Winning gubernatorial campaigns usually have a strong education plank. Cuccinelli has issued a series of proposals that would change what goes on inside the classroom. The tax rehabilitation credit adds an additional wrinkle: private sector jobs.

And what was Bob McDonnell’s slogan in 2009? “Bob’s for Jobs.”

Mix the two together — rebuilding education inside and out and generate economic growth along the way — and what McDonnell’s confab with Goldman telegraphs to the Cuccinelli campaign is that this is could be the key to the election.

Few issues move the votes of suburban moms like education can. The latest Quinnipiac poll showed a yawning gender gap between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli. McAuliffe has focused much of his energy on higher education. That makes some sense. Those kids can vote. But the far richer voter pool is among the parents — and the moms, especially — of primary school kids. Cuccinelli has made a play for them with his broader education reform pitch. It tends to gin-up the base. Adding the building rehabilitation idea reaches those who really like their local public schools, but want them to be state-of-the-art. That takes money — lots of it. Here’s an idea to put private capital to work getting those state-of-the-art facilities, beginning with the oldest, most out-of-date buildings (which also tend to be in the urban areas where Republicans are more fabled creatures than live candidates).

Plus, these credits are job creators and net tax generators.

Even “Frugal Ken” sees the benefits there.

But he needs to take them to center stage. That’s what McDonnell is telling him. It’s advice Cuccinelli should follow. Immediately.

As for the McAuliffe campaign’s retort that they were for this idea four years ago…good for them. What’s Terry done in the interim to help advance the concept in Congress? Nothing. He put his energies into GreenTech, which is now under SEC investigation.

The play for the Cuccienlli campaign is simple: marry the rehab credit to the broad education reform plan. If his press shop expends even a tenth of the energy on these combined ideas that they did on McAuliffe’s tax returns, Ken might actually make real headway in the polls.

Because he’ll not only be the true education candidate, he’ll also be the one with a bona fide jobs plan that relies on private capital to deliver a public good.

photo credit: Yogendra174 via photopin cc