Although it will surprise some to read this, my decision on whom to support for Attorney General was not made until the special session ended, for reasons I will discuss later in this post.
Of the three candidates in the running, only Cuccinelli has been in Richmond dealing with the vital issues of the state. That’s more important than it sounds. Ever since 1993, when Jim Gilmore radically changed the image of the job, people have focused on the crime-fighting aspects of the Attorney General’s office. However, an AG does far more than that; the AG represents the state on every constitutional and national policy issue that ends up before the courts. I particularly remember my shock at seeing Mark Earley, representing Virginia, favoring re-regulation of the airline industry less than a year into his term. That was never an issue during the 1997 campaign; had it been, the primary might have gone very differently.
That segues to my second reason for backing Cuccinelli; the odds are very good that whoever is elected Attorney General in 2009 will be our nominee for Governor in 2017. Earley’s record as State Senator (where he had weaknesses on economic issues) was repeated both as Attorney General and as a candidate for Governor in 2001. It was in the latter capacity that his penchant for deviating from limited-government views opened the door for Mark Warner. The rest is history.
So, for me, Cuccinelli’s record in Richmond was the reason I am supporting his campaign; yet it is also the reason I took so long. As many remember, Ken made one fatal mistake last year, he backed HB3202 during one of the three votes on it in the State Senate. He did not vote for the Kaine version, which included the unconstitutional regional taxes, but the “aye” vote he did cast turned me away from him.
When the Supreme Court invalidated the regional taxes, Ken had a reprieve. That said, I informed him that if he expected my support, he;d have to both oppose any tax increases and propose an alternative. Well, he did both; for me, that’s proper atonement for his error.
I have nothing against either David Foster or John Brownlee, and I would gladly support either next fall should one of them be nominated (and truth be told, I consider Brownlee the favorite), but neither has the state experience that Cuccinelli has, which will be critical for supporters of limited government – both in the AG office and the future gubernatorial campaign.