Cuccinelli, who narrowly lost a race for governor to Terry McAuliffe in 2013, said he and his family are just beginning the decision-making process.
“Look, this is a race that (my wife) Teiro and I have only just begun to think about,” Cuccinelli said. “We are in no hurry about how we are going to react to the news that is developing there.”
The focus on 2017 has increased after Gillespie and his team confirmed steps he’s taking to run for the governor’s mansion Friday.
Fascinating to me anyhow is that Tucker Martin is on the inside of Team Gillespie.
A Cuccinelli/Gillespie matchup would become a “Battle of the Titans” to be sure, bringing the GOP Civil War to a sharp crescendo. Gillespie’s circles do overlap Cuccinelli’s in several areas, though — so the break between establishment and insurgent will not be a clean one.
Something else to consider in all of this as well. Gillepsie’s performace at the 2014 convention was lackluster at best. What should have been a blowout was a near-run thing from Shak Hill (especially after a Rep. Paul Ryan endorsement from the podium that Hill took very poorly at the time and still remembers — and perhaps inappropriately blames — as causing his defeat).
Hill’s campaign definitely sent shockwaves through the convention hall in Roanoke. In a similar environment in 2017, an insurgency led by Ken Cuccinelli would be formidable indeed, and make the 2016 RPV leadership contests (including State Central) more pivotal than otherwise.
In contrast, Gillespie holds all the real advantages. Fundraising, an ability to unite both factions and regional interests, and above all a spirit the includes rather than excludes. Gillespie’s reputation as a uniter stands in stark contrast to Cuccinelli’s reputation as a clarifying agent.
What’s more, a Gillespie/Cuccinelli gubernatorial contest has the potential to be a very sharp contest — not on ideological concerns with regards to the conservative movement, but on how to approach and engage the debate among independents and minority communities. Gillespie again holds an advantage, but should Cuccinelli be able to patch up and restore what made his 2009 campaign for attorney general great (in contrast to his disastrous 2013 race), Gillespie could very well have a true contest.
Watch the 2016 RPV State Central races, folks… that will be the true test as to how serious a potential Gillespie/Cuccinelli contest really is.