As of 2AM, the Virginia Republican primary ballot was finalized. The choices are Mitt Romney and Ron Paul; no one else made the ballot. As far as I’m concerned, if you don’t make the Virginia primary, you won’t be the nominee. Virginia has held primaries for President on the Republican side since 1988, and the winner has been the nominee every single time. In 2000 and 2008, the Old Dominion was a critical stabilizer for nominees Bush and McCain, respectively.
In other words, the choices are Ron Paul and Mitt Romney. I sincerely doubt Paul will win, and I prefer Romney based on foreign policy (he’s better on Communist China than Paul is). That said, Romney will be one of the weakest – if not the weakest – party nominee in recent memory. The base doeesn’t trust him; he will be the obvious last choice for a number of primary voters; and his persona, while reassuring to many, will be bland (at best) to others.
In short, Mitt Romney will need a game-changing running mate, from a critical swing state, and with the ability to win over conservative voters unsure about the guy at the top of the ticket. Marco Rubio could fit the bill, but Florida – even in 2008 – was better for the GOP than the national results were. Virginia, by contrast, was a carbon copy of the national numbers.
So Virginia would be a better place to find a running mate, and there is in fact a statewide politician who could solve several of Mitt Romney’s problems at once: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
For those worried about “Romneycare” and Mitt’s on-again, off-again relationship with mandates, nothing would reassure them quite like a running mate who led a lawsuit against Obamacare, especially if the case hits the Supreme Court during the campaign season.
Given Virginia’s proximity to the national capital (and Cuccinelli’s career in Northern Virginia politics), his conservative credentials would be apparent almost immediately, providing an excellent “balance” to Romney.
Finally, a Romney-Cuccinelli ticket would, if victorious, bring us the first ever Italian-American Vice President. In addition to the historical importance of that, it could also make New Jersey competitive again.
Oh, and Cuccinelli would have two-and-a-half more years of executive branch experience than the entire Democrats’ ticket had in 2008.
I understand that most of the Virginia running-mate talk has centered around Bob McDonnell, but his persona is too close to Romney to be very effective. Cuccinelli, by contrast, could complement the ticket in all of the ways above noted.
So, yes, I will vote for Mitt Romney for president on March 6 (and no, it won’t be very much fun), but I consider it critical for Romney to pick the right running mate; and I am convinced that is Ken Cuccinelli.
Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon