VIRGINIA GOVERNOR'S RACE

Gov. Bob McDonnell's lingering controversies may dog Ken Cuccinelli

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Want an up-to-the-minute snapshot of the nationally significant Virginia gubernatorial race between Ken Cuccinelli (R) and Terry McAuliffe (D)?

There is none.

Actually, there is one. But it’s out of focus.

This one’s a confounding race that gets trickier by the day, and much of that has to do with the current occupant of the state’s Big Desk.

That would be Bob McDonnell.

Consider two weekend headlines, the first of which appeared in Saturday’s Washington Post.

Main header: “A gifted governor.” Subhead: “A $6,500 Rolex. A $15,000 shopping spree. What else has Virginia’s first couple received?” http://wapo.st/14DnGLf 

And then there’s this headline, atop a column from veteran political reporter Jeff Schapiro of the Richmond Times-Dispatch: “Governor’s woes could take down Cuccinelli.” http://bit.ly/12zFkwq

Poor Ken Cuccinelli. He’s just sitting there as Virginia’s Attorney General minding his own business but is being dogged by the Big Guy’s association with a certain company called Star Scientific.

Oops.

Thing is, Cuccinelli’s connected, as well.

Per Schapiro’s piece, “Virginia’s Rolex-wearing governor is a political time bomb. Bob McDonnell’s career is badly damaged, if not destroyed. It is a casualty of his continuing dissembling over tens of thousands of dollars in undisclosed gifts to him; his wife, Maureen; and their children from Jonnie Williams Sr., the dietary supplement executive. This includes a $6,500 Rolex watch that has vanished from McDonnell’s wrist.

"Fallout could also take out fellow Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the party’s candidate for governor."

“He, too, has partaken of Uncle Jonnie’s largesse. Some of it Cuccinelli said he’d forgotten to disclose: A trip to New York and two family vacations to Williams’ lake house, one of which included Thanksgiving dinner. More troubling may be Cuccinelli’s failure to report his stake in Williams-led Star Scientific while the Cuccinelli-led attorney general’s office, now relying on two private lawyers working for free, battles with the firm in court over $1.7 million in unpaid taxes and penalties.”

And per the aforementioned Post editorial, “. . . As we’ve noted before, Mr. McDonnell has taken cover behind Virginia’s anemic disclosure requirements, which exempt gifts to family members, and has ignored calls to provide a comprehensive accounting of the gifts his family has received. He is now suffering the consequences: a slow drip of damaging revelations that threatens to destroy his political career and his otherwise admirable legacy as governor.”

Gifts.

This could be one for McAuliffe. Vice President Joe Biden didn’t specifically mention the Star Scientific connection when he spoke to McAuliffe supporters at a rally Saturday night in Richmond. He didn’t have to. It’s the gift that keeps on giving so just shut up and let it breathe, as far as McAuliffe is concerned.

Instead, Biden went out of his way to paste the “tea party” bumper sticker on Cuccinelli’s bus.

The other stuff?

Wait for it.

Or so McAuliffe surely hopes.

After all, he has his own so-called other stuff, as pointed out in the T-D piece.

To wit: "Terry McAuliffe, the gubernatorial nominee, has a long history of plumbing profits from politics: As a bank chairman, he helped arrange unsecured loans for Dick Gephardt’s 1988 presidential campaign. As an investor, he turned a $100,000 stake in Global Crossing, a telecom that has since gone bust, into an $18 million windfall. As a manufacturer, he ran an electric-car company propped up with a shaky visa-for-sale scheme to lure Chinese backers.

"This underscores what public opinion polls already show: That candidate likeability is glaringly absent in the Cuccinelli-McAuliffe contest. As Harry L. Wilson, a political scientist at Roanoke College, told The New York Times in April, “This may be the first time we don’t like our governor the day after the election.” 

Stay tuned.

 

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