In Virginia, candidates on both sides of a long, bitter race for governor spent the weekend turning the final hours into a referendum on President Barack Obama’s health care “reform.”
The decision to nationalize the race is a question that voters — at least those who care enough to turn out — will answer on Tuesday.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe, armed with lots of campaign cash and polls which show him ahead, campaigned with President Barack Obama in Northern Virginia.
Republcian Ken Cuccinelli, out of money and running out of time, hit right-wing strongholds in Southwestern Virginia hoping to increase campaign fervor of those who don’t like Obamacare or the President behind it.
Most think Cuccinelli is acting like a desperate loser. Others say he is going what he must to make the best of a bad situation.
Some may find it ironic that Obamacare, the federal government shutdown and the extreme fanaticism of the tea party are the issues of choice in the closing hours of a state race that should be focused on the economy, jobs and other more pressing issues.
Neither candidate, however, has spent much time on state issues. Cuccinelli, of course , is normally busy defending his questionable acceptance of free lodging at a mufti-million dollar waterfront mansion at Smith Mountain Lake and other lavish goodies from scandal-scarred Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams so maybe he doesn’t really want to talk about what he does for — or against — Virginia.
McAuliffe has never held public office, lives in Virginia because he made his name in Washington as a master fundraiser for former President Bill Clinton and as chairman of the Democratic party. He’s a fairly successful businessman with investments in a lot of companies but little of his operations or activities had much to do with Virginia.
These are the only two real choices in a tough governor’s face that has left most Virginians in both parties scratching their heads and asking “how the hell did this happen?”
How indeed. The bottom line for Virginians in this year’s governor’s election is a choice between two transplants with nothing really tangible to offer the Old Dominion: Ken Cuccinelli from Edison, New Jersey or Terry McAuliffe from Syracuse, New York.
A third candidate in the race is Libertarian Robert Sarvis. He’s the only Virginia-born candidate, having entered this world in Fairfax in 1976. He’s a lawyer and software developer who will probably pull about 10 percent of the vote and most of that will come from those who might have gone for Cuccinelli who can then blame his loss on something besides his own extremism.
Several hardcore Republicans in Floyd County, Roanoke and surrounding areas have said they will vote for Sarvis only because they can’t stand to cast a vote for Cuccinelli. So they will vote for Sarvis knowing full well that such a vote helps McAuliffee and is, in the end, a vote for the Democrat.
If the polls are right, McAuliffe will win easily with a seven-to-fifteen percent margin over Cuccinelli, who is predicting he will come through and win with an upset.
McAuliffe planned to campaign Monday with Vice President Joe Biden a day after Obama weighed in, throwing national Democrats’ full backing into the race. Cuccinelli, meanwhile, would be campaigning with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and planned his final campaign rally with former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a hero of the libertarian wing of the GOP.
Seeking an upset, Cuccinelli pledged to continue his fight against the Democrats’ national health care law. As Virginia’s attorney general, he was the first to file a lawsuit trying to declare it unconstitutional. While the Supreme Court rejected his argument, he has not stopped his crusade against it.
McAuliffe has embraced the law and has pledged to use it to expand Medicaid in the state to provide health coverage for 400,000 Virginians. The federal government picks up the entire tab for expansion in the first few years, with the state picking up a portion of it in later years.
Cuccinelli says that is going to blow a huge hole in the state’s budget and binds future governors.
“No more Obamacare in Virginia,” Cuccinelli said Sunday. “That’s the message we can send.”
McAuliffe says the Medicaid expansion keeps Virginia tax dollars closer to home. He says the alternative is for Virginians to pick up the Medicaid coverage for other states.
In advertising, direct mail and phone calls, the health care law is the top issue both candidates are pushing.
Copyright © 2013 Capitol Hill Blue
(This article includes material from Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue and Philip Elliott and Jose Lederman of The Associated Press)