And a Tea Party Hero, to boot.
With 170,000 federal employees in Virginia and 30 percent of the economy of Northern Virginia dependent on government spending, no state has more to lose from a government shutdown than this one.The Virginia gubernatorial election is just 34 days away. Every day of this shutdown that Ken Cuccinelli's ideological soulmates in the Republican Party force the nation to endure brings voter anger that much closer to the boiling point. There's only one election in the near term that will give voters an opportunity to express their feelings about all of this.
Mr. Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, says he does not support a federal shutdown. He has tried to turn the tables on his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, by arguing that he would bring the same inflexibility to Richmond that produced the breakdown this week in Washington.It doesn't help Mr. Cuccinelli that the people responsible for the shutdown are his people, no matter how he tries to wriggle away from that fact.
But with national polls showing a majority of voters blaming Republicans for government dysfunction, Mr. Cuccinelli has a problem that worsens each day the shutdown continues and brings more economic pain to Virginians, analysts and Republican strategists said
Virginia voters know who Ken Cuccinelli is. So his only option--to run from the Tea Party like a scalded dog--is fraught with limitations:
The Cuccinelli campaign’s strategy for avoiding blowback is to distance itself from the work of Congressional Republicans.* * *
But he is in a difficult position. His political identity was forged through his staunch opposition to the health care law — he filed a lawsuit minutes after the president signed it in March 2010 — and he is a hero to the Tea Party as a result.As the shutdown's effects become more acute and painful it becomes increasingly hard for Cuccinelli to explain why voters shouldn't treat him the same way the Tea Party is treating them:
He plans to appear at a fund-raiser on Saturday in Richmond for a family values group with Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who drove the “Defund Obamacare” campaign in Congress.
Independent analysts said the longer the shutdown lasted, the more it would play to Mr. McAuliffe’s advantage. “He’s looking for a motivator to get out the Democratic vote,” said Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “When people are mad, they tend to vote.The Hill reports McAuliffe is taking full advantage of Cuccinelli's cozy relationship with the Tea Party, beginning by launching ads on Facebook:
There are 150,000 federal employees in Virginia," read the Web ads. "Why is Ken Cuccinelli standing with the Tea Party on the government shutdown?"Cuccinelli's response can charitably be described as "lame":
The ads target federal workers in Northern Virginia, where nearly one third of the economy relies on the federal government, and in the military-heavy Hampton Roads region.
On Monday morning he released a radio ad in Northern Virginia saying McAuliffe "deserves part of the blame" for the shutdown because he is "against working together to find solutions."The November vote will also provide a window for Republicans at all levels to guage how the public feels about their antics:
No one knows how long the shutdown will last and what its political fallout will be. But Virginia has long been looked to as a harbinger, however imperfect, for the coming Congressional midterm elections. It is one of only two states to hold statewide elections a year after a presidential vote. (New Jersey, the other, does not have a close-fought governor’s contest this year.)Larry Sabato agrees:
“This will clearly knock out the Republicans in Northern Virginia,” said Tom Davis, a former Republican member of the House from the region. “You’ll have a lot of angry voters looking for some way to express discontent. They don’t get a shot at Congress until next year.”
"There is no question a long shutdown helps McAuliffe," Sabato said. "It will make loads of northern Virginians angry and give them a reason to get out to the polls, and northern Virginia is overwhelmingly Democratic."In a race where neither candidate is going to win a popularity contest, the outcome is likely going to hinge on the public's negative feelings towards one or the other. The government shutdown has a ripple effect into local economies reaching well beyond the government employees who are the Republican Party's immediate targets. As the ripples widen, the anger spreads.
Added John Feehery, a former aide to a previous Republican House speaker, J. Dennis Hastert, “If I were Ken Cuccinelli I’d be calling my friends in the Tea Party and saying knock this off.”But the Tea Party isn't picking up the phone, Ken.