Virginia governor's race goes negative

So here we are at the conclusion of the mid-summer apex, more readily known as the conclusion of the long Fourth of July holiday weekend, and there have been fireworks aplenty in Virginia’s gubernatorial race between Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

Or not.

For an election that’s fewer than four months away, this one continues to loom as a conundrum-based affair on relatively long-ago happenings.

Take this past week and weekend.

Cuccinelli goes on the stump to supposedly talk about his business initiatives for Virginia but winds up spending much of his time bashing McAuliffe for the Mississippi-and-not-Virginia electric car plant.

McAuliffe goes on the stump to supposedly show his support for science and technology potential in Virginia but winds up spending much of his time bashing Cuccinelli about the Michael Mann/U.Va. controversy.

Will this thing ever become interesting and not just a regurgitation of long-ago happenings?

In a word, no.

So says noted political observer Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, when asked Monday about the race’s tenor.

“This Virginia Governor's election is destined to go down in history as one of the most purely negative ever,’’ he said. “Both major-party nominees are so controversial that it's almost impossible to sell them positively. Therefore, the campaigns and consultants will do what they do best -- attack the other guy.”

Consider two recent posts from the campaigns.

From Cuccinelli’s camp: “Good Morning. On the heels on the one year anniversary of McAuliffe’s unveiling of GreenTech’s MyCar someplace other than Virginia, and with McAuliffe’s campaign unable to be reached for comment Saturday, today we bring you McAuliffe’s own explanation for why he didn’t open a manufacturing facility in Southside or Southwest.

“That’s right folks; according to Terry McAuliffe a manufacturing facility with one thousand employees is too big for Southside or Southwest Virginia. McAuliffe had previously stated that Mississippi’s lucrative government incentives had swayed the final decision and falsely blamed Virginia officials for GreenTech opening up shop in Mississippi, but now it’s clear that Southside and Southwest weren’t good enough for McAuliffe’s lofty and unmet GreenTech expectations."

From McAuliffe’s camp and the aforementioned Mann: "Scientists shouldn't have to look over their shoulders whenever they do work whose conclusions might offend somebody with a political ax to grind."

“That's what the Richmond Times-Dispatch had to say about Ken Cuccinelli's investigation of my research at the University of Virginia. He subpoenaed thousands of documents about my work in climate science — just because he didn't like my academic conclusions. I've moved my research to Penn State, but I was back in the Commonwealth this week meeting with scientists and researchers at some of our leading universities to make sure they know one thing: Terry McAuliffe believes science is science and thinks researchers should be able to do their work without government interference.”

So there you go. Sabato has been covering Virginia politics for more than three decades and doesn’t try to hide his disgust with the current state of affairs.

“It's often said that these two are running against the only person they could beat, and I'm inclined to agree,” he said. “One of them is going to win, and about half the state is going to gag.

“The redeeming feature is Virginia's one-term limit. Four years will pass quickly, though a lot of damage to the state's reputation can be done in that time.”

Asked Monday about Sabato's assessment, here's what both campaigns had to say.

From Cuccinelli aide Anna Nix: "Ken Cuccinelli was in Hampton Roads for three events today where he continued, as he has throughout the campaign, to focus on his core message of growing the economy, creating jobs and easing burdens for middle-class families. Ken has spent his entire career putting Virginians first. On Election Day, Virginia voters are going to support Ken Cuccinelli and his plan that will help all Virginians, not just the well-connected.”

From McAuliffe aide Josh Schwerin:{ }"Terry is focused on how we can diversify and strengthen Virginia's economy. That's why he has spent so much time talking about the importance of the bipartisan transportation compromise, visited 21 of the 23 community colleges in Virginia to talk about workforce development, and why he's been gaining support from the business community and mainstream Republicans. Terry is also committed to standing up for women and making Virginia a welcoming place for those who want to live, work, and raise a family here, but unfortunately those are things that run contrary to Ken Cuccinelli's career-long record."

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