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STAR(R)S FOR KEN | Politics

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Despite being a vocal critic of Virginia's Attorney General during the first year of his tenure, on November 5th, I voted for Ken Cuccinelli. When the Governor's race began in earnest at the beginning of this year, in all honesty, I found neither of the candidates enticing, and the increasing negativity of the ads, rather than command my attention, just drove me to distractions. But I did intently watch the debate that was held in McLean, moderated by Chuck Todd, and broadcast on NBC4, which helped to make up my mind. Here's why.
* Governing - actually participating in the process - is quite different from politics, its precursor, which includes fundraising and campaigning, both of which are distinguished from involvement in the corporate world. Mr. Cuccinelli had actually served in Richmond in more than one capacity. Advantage to him.
* Shutdowns - first the Federal government, then the Obamacare website. "October Surprises" that had little to do with being atop the Commonwealth's government, which is what we were supposedly voting for, but which were nevertheless dragged into the contest. Efforts were made to paint Mr. Cuccinelli as guilty by association in endorsing the former, a "Tea Party favorite," although it clearly appeared he disapproved of the "Cruz missile" tactics. When HealthCare.gov went dark because of technical glitches, it brought to light a panoply of new problems - well beyond the germane concerns regarding Medicaid expansion - associated the now seemingly misnomered Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This "benefited" Mr. Cuccinelli, but he "capitalized" on it too late.
* Virginia's government is not just the Governor. There is a Republican dominated legislature - and a judiciary that weighs in as well. No official operates in a vacuum, no matter what they promise they will do when they're out hunting for votes. Just ask the President, the most recent reference being the aforementioned sixteen day closure of the Federal government. Despite all McAuliffe's talk of a willingness to reach across the aisle and find "common ground," shortly after election invoking Reagan and Tip O'Neill (he must have read Chris Matthews' new book), he hasn't actually done it yet, a la Chris Christie. And 48 percent to 45 percent isn't exactly a mandate, a deficit of 50,000 ballots isn't a devastating loss, so good luck with that. Entrenched, existing relationships matter, so Mr. Cuccinelli would have probably had better success working with a House of Delegates and Senate of the same party, "getting things done," versus a potential mimic of Washington gridlock a hundred miles down 95 in Richmond. The home court comes in handy.
* Social Issues: women and guns. If you lived in metro DC, you would have been hard pressed to miss all the commercials centered on these two topics.
As a female, I did not find the targeting respectful of my gender, but rather obvious pandering with its concomitant blackballing. I may not necessarily agree with Mr. Cuccinelli's positions with regard to reproductive rights and marriage/divorce - Mr. Con Law, heavy on the federalism fight, his liberty arguments were a bit inconsistent and more cherry picking when it came to personal freedoms - but I did not feel he was formulating his opinions for votes. And besides, as while Attorney General, he would have been charged with enforcing the statutes on the books, like them or not, and "it takes an Assembly" for change. Kudos to Ken for not condescending, because it's time females were treated as individuals, not a voting bloc, and we don't have to wait for Hillary to shatter that glass ceiling for permission.
As for gun control, neither of the candidates seemed to recognize how WikiWeapons and 3D printing (for instance, Cody Wilson's "The Liberator") will shift the shape of the discourse, sooner rather than later, no pun intended. Kind of like banning books in the age of e-readers. Think about it...
* Practice Field Virginia. Both Bill and Hill stumped for McAuliffe, and from all appearances, it looked like the Commonwealth was being used to test drive the former Secretary of State's second go at the Presidency in 2016. Back to the future? I don't think so. Time for fresh faces, not throwback blasts from past political dynasties - from both parties. And if the new Governor stumbles, because they heavily invested in installing him in the state, it could reflect badly on Mrs. Clinton, either from a judgment or a proxy point of view. In the end - all that star power - Obama and Biden, too - was not enough wattage light my fire. Substance over form- it's about the candidate, stupid.
* Which leads to my next point, personality and style. Talkative Terry of many Trades versus the Efficient, Exacting Engineer. Loquacious, laconic. I want the latter doing the math and handling my - the taxpayer's - money everytime...
* ...Particularly since McAuliffe outspent Cuccinelli by $15 million, most of coming from out of state. Yeah, he won, but can he stay within Virginia's budget? It may be time for citizens against Citizens United to unite.
* Finally, Mr. Cuccinelli is half Italian on his father's side. Sometimes you just have to factor in your roots. This isn't New York, where McAuliffe (and I) grew up, or New Jersey, Mr. Cuccinelli's birthplace, where that ethnicity is common, so it would have been a breakthrough of sorts for him to win the top job in the land of the good ol' boys. Yes, I know this might seem to contradict the argument I made with respect to the women's vote, but it wasn't made an issue in the campaign, and is mostly sentimental with me.
In 2009, Mr. Cuccinelli was the flavor in favor, receiving the largest number of votes of any candidate for Attorney General in the Commonwealth's history. This November, the electorate seems to be drinking more in moderation. But it's a low turnout, off, off year, so it's debatable if the results are a taste test indicative of anything at all.
As for Mr. Cuccinelli, besides playing a role in the recount in choosing his successor, it has been suggested that with statewide name recognition, he would be the most obvious Republican to challenge Mark Warner in 2014. With his penchant for precision in language, particularly as it relates to parsing the law, perhaps his most impactful role would be as a judge, as the courts are more often than not "The Last Line of Defense." I could also see him as the next Ken Starr, if the right opportunity presented itself. And there's always another run for the Governorship. In the land of a proudly, purple populace, who knows what Virginians will crave in four years?