The first two stops of Ken Cuccinelli’s town-hall tour of the state ranged from the flatlands of Hampton Roads to the mountains of Southwest Virginia, and the GOP’s Republican candidate for governor might as well have been addressing Venusians one night and Martians the next.
In Hampton Roads, where Cuccinelli held court Monday in Virginia Beach, the primary concerns are improving roads, relieving traffic congestion, development and, of course, the region's considerable Navy presence.
In deep Southwest Virginia, where he campaigned Tuesday in Abingdon, the primary concerns are coal and natural gas. Pretty much period.
Here's a snapshot from local news reports.
Cuccinelli – whose facing Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe -- addressed both topics at the latter stop. Coal? He’s for it. Natural gas? It’s complicated.
Basically, there’s a federal case going between land owners and two gas companies. Nearly $28 million in royalties sits in escrow while the fight goes on, and, as the Bristol Herald Courier noted, Cuccinelli, was firm in saying: “No matter what the outcome of that case, the escrow dispute going on in Virginia lives beyond that case. We have a problem in Virginia, and it is getting the $28 million or so that's sitting in escrow for disputed property owners out to those property owners."
No one in Abingdon asked about ethical scandals in Richmond.
Not so in Virginia Beach.
It didn’t dominate the conversation, but as the Virginian-Pilot reported, it was far from a forgotten topic. With Gov. Bob McDonnell the subject of a federal inquiry into his dealings with Star Scientific and owner Jonnie R. Williams and gifts and/or favors received, Cuccinelli – who as attorney general has recused himself from the case because of assorted links to Star – admits the drip-drip revelations are a drag on his campaign.
He told reporters last week that “it’s distracting,” but that there’s not a whole lot he can do about it.
Take Monday night. A man in the audience pointed out to Cuccinelli that: “Obama is going to have his attorney general indict our current governor. And he’s going to drop that bomb on everybody in October. I hope you have that in the back of your mind.”
To which Cuccinelli replied: “There are days I have that in the front of my mind.”