McAuliffe faces Cuccinelli, inexperience in race


Terry McAuliffe wants to talk jobs, economic development and how his business experience positions him to further the pro-growth agenda of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, whom he hopes to replace.

He's also quick to cast Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as a socially conservative ideologue whose hyper-charged partisanship alienates large swaths of the electorate.

What McAuliffe is less eager to discuss are the ways in which he differs, politics aside, from those Republican officeholders: namely, his lack of state government experience.

In his second run for Virginia's highest office, McAuliffe finds himself in the unusual position of aspiring to a post without having come up through the legislature or another wing of state government.

That makes him something of an anomaly. Going back 30 years, every governor save one - Mark Warner, now a U.S. senator - either served in the General Assembly or in the statewide elected offices of attorney general or lieutenant governor.

McAuliffe lacks that experience.

In a recent interview, McAuliffe wouldn't give specific responses when asked about technical aspects of legislative and governor's office operations. Asked if he could name the positions in the governor's Cabinet, for instance, McAuliffe said: "Maybe could, maybe couldn't. That's not what I'm going to do here today because that's not what I'm talking about."

McAuliffe called such queries "gotcha" questions that he wouldn't answer, saying Virginians care more about kitchen-table issues.

"They're going to want to know who is going to get out of bed every single day, and walk into that office and pick up that phone and do something about moving the government along that can create jobs and economic development," he told The Virginian-Pilot. "That is what they care about."

That kind of message helped carry McDonnell to a landslide victory in 2009 even as Democrats branded him as an archconservative with outdated social ideas on women and gay rights.

While McAuliffe and fellow Democrats will likewise try to caricature Cuccinelli, one thing he'll find difficult is flustering the conservative prosecutor on a governance question.

Virginia's gubernatorial race stands as the marquee political contest in the country this year as one of the few big elections on the map, especially because it pits a conservative lighting rod against a prominent Democrat with strong ties to the Clinton machine.

"Voters care a lot about ideology and tradition, but they also care about competence," said Old Dominion University political science professor Jesse Richman. "There's a certain competence capability that people expect of their governor, and if a candidate can't climb above that bar, there are problems in store."

Cuccinelli, a former state senator noted for his policy grasp, stumped former Del. Steve Shannon of Fairfax County during a 2009 debate when he asked the Democratic nominee a technical question about attorney general office functions.

For McAuliffe, perceptions about his awareness of Virginia remain an issue his campaign will continue to face, and one Cuccinelli's camp will look to exploit.

They've already tried several times. Conflicting statements on why McAuliffe's GreenTech Automotive established an electric car plant in Mississippi rather than Virginia ensnared the candidate and provided political fodder for Cuccinelli.

McAuliffe said in December the company wanted to establish the facility here but that the Virginia Economic Development Partnership chose not to bid for its business. Email between GreenTech officials and the economic partnership paint a different picture, one of a state entity performing due diligence of a potential corporate partner that ultimately opted for a different site.

McAuliffe now chalks it up to a business decision by company officials.

Cuccinelli campaign manager Dave Rexrode said McAuliffe is company chairman and "only has himself to blame for creating jobs in Mississippi that could have been created in Virginia."

Rexrode's team recently highlighted McAuliffe fundraisers in New York and Florida in an effort to suggest that the former Democratic National Committee chairman has tenuous ties to Virginia and fleeting political interests.

Overcoming portrayals as someone more familiar with Washington's Capitol Hill than Richmond's Capitol Square remains a challenge for McAuliffe, even though he has lived in McLean for 21 years and raised his family there.

He's worked hard to shed that Beltway image, traveling to "every nook and cranny of Virginia... listening to folks," McAuliffe said.

One thing that sticks out about McAuliffe now, observed University of Virginia political science professor Larry Sabato, is how he's always jotting copious notes in a pad.

"Most of it you learn through osmosis through the years dealing with it on a daily basis," Sabato said of state issues and practices, but McAuliffe "has none of that. That's one of the reasons people have legitimate, honest questions about his ability to be an effective governor."

McAuliffe says he has a firm handle on policy, and would surround himself with seasoned advisers if elected. He likens himself to Warner - both trained attorneys and businessmen who once worked together at the DNC - though Warner had deeper roots in state politics before running for governor.

McAuliffe says his career of "taking over struggling companies, learning them, fixing them up" is an asset he would bring to the office:

"As it relates to running the government and working with it: I've done it. I've managed many different operations. And I will be up to that."

Having a legislative foundation and relationships developed over time, said McDonnell, made things "a lot easier for me to be able to hit the ground running." Without that, he said, "your learning curve is much longer."

McAuliffe says he would bring the same sort of "fresh, new business approach with mainstream ideas" that Warner did.

He cites, for example, his work to muster votes for the recent statewide road-funding compromise.

Pilot writer Bill Bartel contributed to this report.

Posted to: News Politics State Government Virginia

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Warner didn't have govt. experience either but did a good job

The article says "every governor save one - Mark Warner, now a U.S. senator - either served in the General Assembly or in the statewide elected offices of attorney general or lieutenant governor. McAuliffe lacks that experience." Well, you point out Mark Warner lacked that same experience, and he did a good job as governor. Therefore, this is not a requirement for success.

Also, the success of any administration is to a large degree dependent on the type of people that are picked to be on the governor's cabinet and other appointed positions, not whether he happens to have them memorized. I personally have much more confidence that McAuliffe would pick better more proactive people to steer the state than would Cuccinelli.

Virginia's state elections are a joke

I was hoping we'd have a better choice than McAuliffe or Cuccinelli. McAuliffe was really good at losing elections for other Democrats, and some of his past business dealings have been controversial. Cuccinelli doesn't have the experience or skill to turn the bad job market around -- and the same could be said for McAuliffe.

But then Virginia managed to elect No-Jobs-Bob in the middle of an economic depression, rather than Deeds or Moran who everyone knew would work hard, as they always do, to turn the economy around.

Trans-vaginal ultrasound, anyone?

Or, as SNL liked to refer to it . . .

The Trans-vaginal Airlines. ha.

I'll vote for Terry McAuliffe. He seems the most likely to NOT make Virginia continue to look more and more like a back-woods, hick town. Cuccinelli continues to leave a foul taste on many Virginian's tongues, including women's.

Re: McAuliffe as a 'carpet bagger'; they called Hillary Clinton the same thing, and from I've read, her turn as a NY Senator turned out very well. She represented the state knowledgeably and sensibly.

Sometimes people from outside the confines of a state's politics can see more clearly how bad certain politicians are making the state look.

What forward-looking company wants to head to a state which already has so many marks against it for the way it treats women's issues?

Please stay home on election day

If your biggest gripes are about how others feel about Virginia or it being a "back-woods, hick town,' I seriously feel you haven't the understanding to vote for a qualified candidate.

I am not a fan of either, but McAuliffe's past and lack of basic political knowledge wouldn't make him a good used car salesman much less the governor of the commonwealth.

Well, no, my biggest gripes about the Attorney General is not

No, my biggest gripes about the Attorney General is not how bad he makes us look, but it's a good start and sort of brings all his extremism(s) together, I think. As for Mr. McAuliffe, he's as decent a guy as the next, and he couldn't be any worse than some have.

As for my knowledge of voting, Mr/Mrs Orion, I've voted for many, many years - for Democrats mostly, but also along the way for a Republican or two and for an Independent one time. Sometimes my guy or gal won and sometimes not. But, I'm thinking I have about as much on the ball in so much as voting is concerned. So, let's just leave it at that and not get crazy.

And, about used car salesmen - the two guys who sold us an '04 CR-V and an '08 Toyota pickup took great care of us.

Makes us look bad?

To whom? Oh yes, the late night talk hosts (as you mentioned in this thread). Frankly, it goes a long way to show where you gather and finalize your information. If you are [honestly] so worried about what others think about the commonwealth because of their one-liners, perhaps you should examine what is really important in the grand scheme of things (and take my previous request to heart).

Then again, I could do 3 hours of stand up about their republic and its horrific government...

For you . . . the last word.

Enjoy, since your two posts say exactly the same thing, I won't encourage any more of a response. You get the last word - have at it. Can you resist? ha.

Mark Warner's Virginia

Cuts off somewhere around where the HOV lanes end in PWC.

I voted for McAuliffe in the 2009 primary, and would have voted for him again had he won the nomination. His rank pandering to Democratic special interests to lock up the nomination give me serious reservations about casting another ballot for him. No, he's no Creigh Deeds, but....

As for Warner, government of temporary fixes buoyed by an economy thriving from Federal spending. He planned to run Virginia like a business, and fix the broken revenue system. Same broken revenue system, and dark computers at DMV. Winning Charlie Sheen-style.

If you actually thought

If you actually thought Deeds had a snow ball’s chance in Hades then you should have your head examined. Single handily the worst mistake the Democratic Party of Virginia has ever made in a candidate selection. I dare say he was better off on his farm than in politics.

just what we don't need

is yet another bHo lap dog. Timmy is enough from our great state of Va.

Just what we don't need

Another right wing religious extremist psycho....Cucci.

Virginia needs to move forward, not backward. McDonnell has done enough damage...let's reverse the disaster that is the Republican Party's selling off of Virginia's assets to corporate interests...bridges, tolls, tunnels, ports, uranium mining, etc....

It's a false corollary.

One bad choice doesn't make a different one good. We need good candidates from the middle, not right or left wing extremists. Lucky for Mr. McAuliff, he's not a Republican in a formerly reliable Republican state that will now swing Blue thanks to our Congress.

Backward? Nope

Backward? Some facts that contradict your beliefs:

Ranks 7th per capita income
Ranks 39th in unemployment
Ranks 42nd in those living in poverty
Ranks 40th in state and local taxes as a percentage of personal income
Ranks 41st in per capita state taxes
Ranks 1st in its bond rating (tied with seven other states)

So explain to me, how is Virginia moving backwards?

I wonder how we rate among states' governments being

I wonder how we rate among states' governments being mocked for their nonsensical extremism on late-night TV?

I'm thinking it's right up there, either #1 or #2. And, who do we get to thank for that? You know. Go ahead and say it: The GOP Governor, Attorney General and General Assembly.

Thanks to federal spending

All those ranks are thanks to the enormous amount of federal money Virginia receives. Much more than it pays in federal taxes.

Tollbooth trans vag McDonnell is backward in restricting women's reproductive rights, opposing the rights of gay people, suppressing the black vote, selling off state assets(bridges, ports, tunnels) to foreign companies and corporate interests, privatizing public schools, attempting to pollute Virginia's groundwater for thousands of years by allowing uranium mining, denouncing "co-habitators, homosexuals, and fornicators", and generally making Virginia a laughingstock with his bizarrely outdated extremist religous views, etc....

and I wonder what the

and I wonder what the projected ratings will be after sequestration

VA vs. Ole' Miss

Take away Northern Virginia and Tidewater and Virginia would compete with Mississippi and Alabama for the bottom of everything.

just what we don't need

a Cantor, Walker Koch brothers tea-party lapdog.

Mr. McCauliffe has a good track record, Mr. Cuccinelli

would be wise to start giving the voters a sense of who he is and convincing them he isn’t a scary extremist, but a smart and convivial family man

The problem, of course, is that he is a very scary extremist.

in with the new

Every day it seems, we complain about the job our "leaders" are doing in government. Now is the time to do something about it. Here is a chance to get rid of the old with all their experience doing things the same old way, and get some new blood in with new ideas. Mcauliffe's lack of experience definitely changes my vote. I am now 100% for him.

better inexperience than

total extremism and basing Virginia's politics on extreme religious beliefs. Please, Cucc, just go start a church or a "school" like Liberty.

If Cucc wins,

almost all smart women will leave the state, so that would be bad.

Wait a minute...

if that's true, I'm jumping to Cucci's camp. Just think of all the "dumb" women who'll be left here! A "target rich" environment ! !

Just Vote!

Put on your voting shoes. Virginia has been embarrassed enough of late with this current "governor." We must not allow Kookenelli to cause us more!

McAuliff's Advantage

is that he's running against Cuccinelli; a climate denying, gay-hating right wing ideologue. Cuccinelli's strong arm tactics toward the Virginia Board of Health and his association with Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker who is coming to support him this Friday tells intelligent voters all they need to know.

No, McAuliff's advantage is that he's a Democrat

There are a HECK of a lot of Former Republican Voters who will be voting Democrat in the future because of the Sequester. And that's up and down the Federal, State, and Local level. I know I'm one. The current leadership of the party, and their current outright stupidity, has turned a lot of reliable conservative voters so off in my work place that it's a pretty common statement among us. Time for a third party for all of us in the middle. Until then, I'll vote Democrat or Independent.

You said it!

Although I am not a Republican, I am conservative and tend to vote for the most qualified candidate that has my best interests in mind. I honestly have no idea what I am going to do. The idea of voting for a carpet-bagger yankee turns my stomach almost as much as a self-serving pretty boy for the extreme right.
To this point I have never missed an election, local, state, or federal, and I won't miss this one. Looks like I'll be writing in Noneof Theabove. At least my candidate is more palatable than these two jokers!

" The idea of voting for a

" The idea of voting for a carpet-bagger yankee turns my stomach almost as much as a self-serving pretty boy for the extreme right"

And this is the reason why the rest of the US think's we're so backwards & slow. The civil war ended 148 years ago it's time to abandon this absurd way of thinking. The scary part is you're actually a teacher. I wonder how many students will be misinformed about the "North"

I'm proud to be from the South & married to a "Carpet Bagging Yankee".

From that one sentence,

From that one sentence, I certainly hope those you are teaching live at your house and are home-schooled:

" The idea of voting for a carpet-bagger yankee turns my stomach almost as much as a self-serving pretty boy for the extreme right. "

Its your choice so go waste

Its your choice so go waste your vote. As a teacher you certainly must see the good the repubs have done for you personally....or not. You must be a viginia history teacher to use that carpet bagger northener nonsense. This state because of it military predominance is now and in the future will be a mixed bag, a melting pot of north and south.

Plenty of Time

Lots of time to see how these two will handle themselves in a campaign. If you listen to Cuccinelli, he appears to be a highly intelligent and competent AG and likely a governor with attention to detail/rule of law. Ver conservative, which many do not like. If you listen to McAuliffe, his style is "off the cuff", lots of ideas floating around,some great, some not. Probably not a "details" guy. He also seems to have a proclivity for lying about his business ventures, i.e. stating that his green plant went to Miss. because VA wasn't interested. He was either impatient because of the process of "due diligence" or wanted something to bash McDonnell with. The lies became public. Doesn't not seem to matter to him, just another means to an end.


McAuliffe touts himself as a "job creator". What a joke. He has fed at the public money subsidy trough and stolen more tax payer money than he can count. He is a Build it and they will come clown who thank God Virginia had the good sense to question when he tried to foist off his Lawn Mower Car on us. He went to Mississippi, Whee ! We dodged a bullet there. So far he has not produce one vehicle but has taken Mississippi for a RIDE.

He is another Liberal Charlatan like Obama.

Considering the tolls and

Considering the GOP's toll-talks and the wishy-washy tax manipulating initiatives to look like they're not actually raising taxes (in the attempt to placate the Norquist gang), it takes 'great big ones' to call someone else a . . .


That's hugely rich!

The whole state of viginia's

The whole state of viginia's economy is based mostly at that public trough


I wonder if the media will bring up his highly questionable investment in Global Crossing?
What about the allegations that Ralph Nader made that McAuliffe offered him money to withdraw from certain pivotal states in the 2004 election?
Never happen, the American media is NO longer an objective source of information it is now the KING MAKER.
Don't believe it? Look at the fiasco in DC we have.


Va. caught between 2 carpetbaggers, a vote for either is a vote to punish the Commonwealth.Still both gangs of looters and partisan idiocy will rally around these profoundly unsuitable would-be rulers.SAD

Terry...the carpet bagger

Now comes King Terry, Carpet Bagger who would be Governor.
Talk about a "hyper partisan"...does anyone recall when he worked for Prez Clinton? This guy is not right for Virginia...go back to where you came from, please!

Clinton hyper partisan?

If Clinton could run again he would get 70% of the vote.

doesn't need

Virginia doesn't need another Obama loving kool-aid drinker ( McAuliffe) for governer.

What we really do not need here in Virginia, is

What we really don't need here in VA, is another term of leadership at the top of the state who is so firmly against women's rights.

I have no problem with people who choose to follow their personal choice of religious doctrine. I have a big, big problem, though, with those who choose to use their religious beliefs and doctrines to legislate public policy. And, no one here can deny that's exactly what the GOP's top leadership (McDonnell) and the Attorney General and GOP-led General Assembly have done for the past several years.

Don't believe me? Take a look at the first bills they chose to push last year and this year when the GA was in session. They went immediately toward 'personhood', ultrasounds, women's clinics, etc.

Sure you know what kool-aid is?

Seems to me you're the one under the influence of a hypnotic (is that a kool-aid flavor?) if you think the radical right's agenda, well exemplified by Cuccinelli, is what sane governance is all about. These right-wing freedom fighters fancy shouting hossanahs for freedom-from-governmental-tyranny while imposing exactly that kind kind of tyranny on women, gays, the poor, and blacks. "No government restrictions on me, thank you, but here's some for you" is the working theme. In subtext, of course.

I don't know that McAuliffe stands a chance. From what I can tell he's Republican lite, but even that would be an improvement over a crusading theocrat.

Mark It

This is the most negative article you will read in the VP regarding McAuliffe between now and the election. The rest will praise him and criticize his upcoming opponent. Mark it.

amazing fact

After Cuccinelli wins, we will have had three Catholic governors in a row.

The South has come a long way against anti-Catholic bigotry.

btw I was raised Catholic. Our current governor was a member of the church I attended in VB (Holy Spirit). I remember seeing him at mass one Sunday when he was a delegate.

Cuccinelli was a classmate of mine at UVA's Engineering School.

McAuliffe is a northern

McAuliffe is a northern opportunist, nothing more. We don't need his kind running the show here in Virginia. Let him stay up in the beltway where he belongs. We need a real Virginian to be our governor.


McDonnell was born in PA.

Cuccinelli was born in NJ.

So what you are saying is Terry is an outsider

Isn't that what the tea partiers want, an outsider. No more politics of the back room ideologues.

Comment deleted

Comment removed for rules violation. Reason: Post continued, repeated

Sounds like the tea party to me.

Sounds like the tea party to me. They have been begging for someone outside the beltway for 4 years. So, I'd guess, too, that they're looking for someone outside of VA's borders, on the local level. I agree; sounds like they'd like McAuliffe's not-just-another-politician, politician.

Another nauseating campaign season coming up

This is one of those times when the choice, Vote No, ought to be at the top of the gubenatorial ballot location. We are destined to see gobs of money spent on another nauseating campaign season when one will wonder if we really do belong to the UNITED States or some other 1984 Orwellian-standard of a nation. My grandkids deserve better than what we are leaving them: a bunch of punk politicians at the national level, the state level, and the local level. No real government, just one tiresome campaign after another

Good for Democrats, but not so good for Republicans?

And so McAuliffe has been whiling away to riches, according to him by ""taking over struggling companies, learning them, fixing them up" is an asset he would bring to the office. Hmmmm. Sounds like one of those darned Republican Venture Capitalists like the one the Democrats demonized just a few months ago. Isn't it just amazing how these things get twisted? I can hardly wait for the ads that tell us what poor lady died from cancer because her husband's health insurance was cancelled, or how McAuliffe closed a 100-year-old obsolete steel mill because it was no longer profitable. We'll probably see more of Bill Clinton than Hillary ever did. Watch out for the young women wearing blue dresses!

Since you're so into fashion and

Since you're so into fashion and blue dresses, don't ya just have to wonder what the current Mrs. Gingrich's colors were back when Newt was following her around? ha.

I wouldn't get all high-fa-lutin' and so on when the GOP had plenty of fellas diddling around all those years, too. You know, glass houses and all that.

But, clothing and fabric colors aside, you'd be hard pressed to find a president who left the White House with the country in much better a shape than when President Clinton's 2nd term was over. Our economy was in good shape, plus he didn't start two wars and then think it smart to lower taxes. (It really is about the 'arithmetic', you know. Or, maybe not.)

Clinton was a good leader - blue dress and all.


...he certainly led Monica Lewinsky down the garden path, didn't he?


Sorry to see him out of the race,will vote for anybody running against Bishop Ken.

The dem party is but a

The dem party is but a one-trick pony,
Thus, they offer the consummate crony.
Mr. McAuliffe made his fortune harming others—
A typical dem seeking to enrich himself further.

Rank & file will mindlessly fall in line,
And praise what they condemn all the time.
Dems criticize corruption from their high horse,
It matters not—if they are the source.

T Kosciuszko

If there is any presumption, it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases...All power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority. ~ Lord Acton

We already have a community

We already have a community organizer in the White House. The last thing we need is a pinko political hack democrat. McAuliffe should stick to his old job. I'll take Cuccinelli over ANY democrat.

Raise your hands...

...everybody who wants a governor as totally ignorant as McAuliffe.

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