Democrat Terry “The Macker” McAuliffe, a longtime Clinton pal with heavy political baggage, has opened up a sizeable lead over conservative Republican Ken “The Cooch” Cuccinelli in the Virginia gubernatorial race. And you’re wondering why you should care about the Virginia gubernatorial race.
Here’s the reason: Cuccinelli’s likely defeat on Nov. 5 would demonstrate, yet again, that the Republicans are nuts to keep nominating extremists for high office, particularly in purple swing states like Virginia. They seem incapable of learning that simple lesson – even after blowing winnable Senate races in Nevada, Delaware, Indiana, Colorado, and Missouri in 2010 and 2012, thanks to fringe candidates like Christine O’Donnell and Todd Akin – and they’ll likely hew to their willfull cluelessness even if The Cooch goes down.
But what can they do, really? They’re hostage to their most extreme elements, as currently evidenced by the right’s destructive determination to crash the government or force a default unless President Obama surrenders Obamacare. The myriad voices of Republican sanity have little sway on the congressional front, and no doubt they’ll complain in vain about Virginia six weeks hence, when the party probably blows another winnable race.
The deal in Virginia is simple: To win statewide these days, you need a candidate who scores well in the vote-rich, moderate, ethnically-diverse counties on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. It’s a bit like Pennsylvania, where a candidate needs to score well in the suburban counties near Philadelphia. And those Northern Virginia counties, just like the southeastern Pennsylvania counties, are heavily populated by working women who dislike conservative extremism.
Which brings us to Cuccinelli, the long-serving Virginia attorney general who has earned his status as a right-wing poster boy. According to the latest NBC News/Marist poll, he trails McAuliffe among women voters by 18 percentage points. According to the latest biparrtisan Purple Strategies poll, he trails McAuliffe among women by 18 points. According to the latest Washington Post poll, he trails McAuliffe among women by 24 points. And thanks to these women (who typically vote more heavily than men), Cuccinelli appears destined to lose. On the eve of tonight’s gubernatorial candidate debate, The Post has him losing to McAuliffe among all likely voters by eight points.
It’s arguably amazing that The Macker, a backroom money-raiser and corporate schmoozer who has never held elective office, is crushing The Cooch among women voters. Have you heard about McAuliffe’s less-than-steadfast support for the woman in his life? When his wife was in the throes of childbirth, he left the hospital because was jonesing to go to a Washington party. Another time, after the birth of another child, he was driving wife and newborn to the family home – but decided to stop off at a fundraiser. We know this because McAuliffe wrote it in his memoir: “We got to the dinner and by then Dorothy was in tears…I was inside for maybe 15 minutes, said a few nice things and hurried back out to the car. I felt bad for Dorothy, but it was a million bucks for the Democratic party.”
Talk about a war on woman. But apparently that’s trumped by Cuccinelli’s war on women.
The Republican candidate insists that raped women should be forced to bear their rapists’ children, and that impregnated victiums of incest should be similarly compelled. He opposed renewal of the national Violence Against Women Act. He has encouraged civil disobedience to oppose Obamacare’s birth-control requirement. He has pushed to defund Planned Parenthood. He supports a “personhood” law that would bestow full constitutional rights to “preborn human beings from the moment of fertilization” – a measure that, by definition, would ban all abortions and many forms of contraception. (Indeed, this McAuliffe ad is reportedly hurting The Cooch in Northern Virginia.)
But Cuccinelli’s extremism is not just women-centric. For starters, he’s a climate-change denier who tried to investigate a University of Virginia climate scientist (until the state’s highest court ordered him to stop). He thinks the states and the feds should ban all same-sex partnerships (“homosexual acts are wrong…and I think in a natural law country, it’s appropriate to have policies that reflect that”). He also believes that oral sex between consenting married straight adults should remain illegal, under the state Crimes Against Nature law, which he defends.
Even Jennifer Rubin, the conservative blogger, is down on Cuccinelli, lamenting his “inability to connect with voters beyond his hard-core base…Cuccinelli’s hard edges and confrontational approach appeal to national conservatives but are generally a turn-off in Virginia…These days average voters, especially in Virginia, are in no mood for pols preaching ideology at fever pitch.” (And Rubin didn’t even mention the guy’s running mate, Bishop E. W. Jackson, who has warned that yoga is potentially satanic. Take it away, sir: “The purpose of meditation is to empty onself. Satan is happy to invade the empty vacuum of your soul and possess it. That is why people serve Satan without ever knowing it or deciding to.”)
But will the GOP’s extremist wing finally learn its lesson, in the wake of a Cuccinelli loss? Will the party’s sanity wing finally re-seize control and nominate candidates who can connect with voters beyond the hard-core base?
Yeah, sure. The evidence suggests that we’re far more likely to see a Beatles reunion.
Speaking of the party’s sanity wing, former three-term Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire wishes to weigh in on the current congressional clamor for a shutdown or default. Remember, folks, this is a Republican talking:
“Most Americans these days are simply ignoring Republicans. And they should. The self-promotional babble of a few has become the mainstream of Republican political thought. It has marginalized the influence of the party to an appalling degree…These are folks who have never governed and are not inclined to do so…
“Most Americans do not seek purity; they seek answers to the everyday problems they confront. They expect their government to be of assistance in addressing those problems, not to aggravate them through artificial and self-inflicted economic mismanagement, such as having a default crisis that could easily be avoided. If the Republican Party ignores this concern and constantly speaks to an ever-narrower segment of the population, it is not going to be viable for long, no matter how vocal that small band of people may be. This would not only be a bad outcome for the Republican Party and its members of Congress. It would be bad for the American people, too.”
Cue extremists’ attacks on Republican Judd Gregg.
Editor’s note: This post has been updated to identify Ken Cuccinelli’s position as Virginia’s attorney general.
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