RICHMOND, Va, (WJLA) - Fresh from his efforts to shutdown the federal government, the mercurial Sen. Ted Cruz stepped into Virginia's 2013 gubernatorial race Saturday night at the downtown Richmond Convention Center.
The title of the high-dollar donor event, sponsored by the ultra-conservative Family Foundation of Virginia, was "Senator Ted Cruz - This American Moment."
His remarks were preceded by those of GOP candidate Ken Cuccinelli, greeted by a rousing standing ovation, and he wasted little time before expressing his displeasure about so-called Obamacare.
Of Cruz, Virginia's attorney general said, well, nothing.
Not once did the name of the keynote speaker cross Cuccinelli lips. Instead, he presented what more or less is his stump speech and took a couple of jabs at his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe.
"We're under a regulatory onslaught," Cuccinelli says.
After a couple of filler speakers, it was Cruz' turn.
He made couple of jokes about his faux filibuster, took some shots at President Obama and at Washington in general, and talked about how "Obamacare is hands-down, the No. 1 job killer in this country."
Cruz soon left the lectern and paced across the stage while making his various points. Aside from frequent applause, rapt attention and silence came from the crowd.
Of Cuccinelli, he said, among other things: "How proud I am of my friend, Ken Cuccinelli. Ken is smart, he's principled and he's fierce. . .He loves liberty and the constitution."
Cruz then kept the bulk of his remarks about the health-care act, Obama and various Democrats on Capitol Hill who he repeatedly blamed for the government shutdown.
In a Saturday editorial, the Washington Post editorial wrote the following about the gathering: "If the event serves as a sort of homecoming for Virginia conservatives, Mr. Cruz is this year's homecoming king. That has left Mr. Cuccinelli. . .squirming."
Cuccinelli was not made available for questions after his comments.
The large crowd inside the main ballroom was 99 percent white and mostly missing the 30-and-younger set.
Outside the gala, on East Broad Street, a couple of hundred anti-Cruz and anti-Cuccinelli protesters mostly wearing t-shirts and shorts or jeans gathered at the corner of the convention center with signs and chants of "Stop Ken, Stop Ken!, and "Ted go home, Ted go home!"
"Animals," an elegantly dressed elderly woman remarked on her way inside, and then declined an opportunity to explain.
And so it went on a hot Saturday night in downtown Richmond.