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Shutdown finger-pointing ensues in race for governor

Neither of Virginia’s two major-party gubernatorial candidates has any control over the budget impasse in Congress. But both are using the shutdown as political fodder, trying to tie each other to the most potentially unpopular positions of their national political parties.

The message from Republican Ken Cuccinelli’s camp: that Democrat Terry McAuliffe is a Washington insider who would shut down Virginia government to get his way, in contrast to his own claim of bipartisanship.

The McAuliffe camp’s message: that Cuccinelli is a Tea Party darling aligned with Republicans who would let government shut down to re-fight a health law that was passed three years ago.

In recent days, Republicans have issued multiple news releases reviving a comment from Democrat Terry McAuliffe that he wouldn’t sign a Virginia budget that didn’t include Medicaid expansion.

“With the federal government on the verge of the first government shutdown since 1996—an outcome that nobody wants—it’s important to remind people that Terry McAuliffe has repeatedly advocated for a shutdown of Virginia’s government in blind support of Obamacare,” said Anna Nix, spokeswoman for Republican Ken Cuccinelli, in one of those news releases. “As a lifelong D.C. insider, it shouldn’t surprise a single person that McAuliffe is ready and willing to bring Washington tactics and brinksmanship to Richmond.”

On Tuesday the Cuccinelli campaign released an online ad—targeted at Northern Virginia voters and federal workers—that features a clip of McAuliffe saying he would ask legislators, “please don’t send me a bill unless the Medicaid expansion is included in it.”

Democrats have let loose their own volley of news releases, linking Cuccinelli to the Tea Party faction of the Republican Party that has been instrumental in pushing for the House Republicans’ insistence that a one-year delay of the Affordable Care Act’s individual insurance mandate accompany any spending authorization.

Democrats say Cuccinelli should condemn the Republicans’ efforts to link the spending bill with the ACA, as Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell did, to an extent, on Monday, saying that his fellow Republicans shouldn’t shut down government over this fight.

Cuccinelli is appearing at a Family Foundation fundraising dinner in Richmond this Saturday at which Sen. Ted Cruz, R–Texas, who spent 21 hours in a filibuster last week arguing against the ACA, is also a speaker.

Democrats launched robo-calls late Monday with that message, telling listeners to urge Cuccinelli to cancel the Cruz appearance and condemn “his Republican friends for playing chicken with our economy.”

Cuccinelli said in a statement early Tuesday that he’s “very disappointed that President Obama and both parties in Congress proved unable to work together.”

In one of the many statements from Democrats, McAuliffe said Cuccinelli is “more concerned with appeasing his extreme Tea Party allies than protecting the economic well-being of Virginia. His refusal to stand up to the radical Republicans in Congress who, in their zeal to push an ideological agenda, forced a government shutdown, reinforced the fact that he is more closely aligned with the extreme faction of his party than mainstream Virginians.”

Chelyen Davis: 540/368-5028

cdavis@freelancestar.com

 

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