Is Ken Cuccinelli about to outsmart himself?

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    ( – promoted by lowkell)

    By Paul Goldman

    Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a leading critic of the President’s health care law, is on the verge of making an unhealthy political decision. Next weekend, the Virginia GOP governing body will meet to decide whether to rescind a previous decision to hold a primary to select their 2013 statewide ticket, and to hold a convention process instead.

    The fateful Cuccinelli choice comes down to this: Will he decide to join Congressman Ron Paul’s forces in totally embarrassing the Republican Governor and Republican Lt. Governor of Virginia, both now reduced to groveling in public in order to plead with the GOP central committee not to reverse their previous decision? Mr. McDonnell and Mr. Bolling also happen to be the top Virginia backers of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. It is no secret Ron Paul supporters here in Virginia hold Mr. Romney in “maximum low regard,” as the saying goes in politics.

    Thus all the “experts” who don’t see the 2012 Virginia presidential process as part of the upcoming Virginia GOP vote on whether to go primary or convention in 2013 really need to consider another profession or hobby. Over the past few months, supporters of Ron Paul have been diligently using the 2012 presidential year process  to make themselves bigger players in the state Republican Party.

    In that regard, you’ve got to like Paul’s People Play here: Paul’s supporters are leading the push to do something unprecedented in Virginia politics, reverse a previous party decision on a primary and switch midstream to a convention.

    Conventional wisdom says Mr. Cuccinelli is a sure winner at a convention. But a recent poll says he is equally certain to win a primary.

    Whatever the accuracy of both views, this is certain: Mr. Cuccinelli is the heavy favorite right now, whether the GOP goes convention or primary. This may change.

    But under normal circumstances, the presumptive favorite – in this case “Have Brief, Will Travel” (my nickname for the prolific law suit filing AG) – would not want to embarrass a popular, sitting GOP Governor given the state’s political history. The better McDonnell looks, the better for the 2013 Virginia GOP nominee, based on all we know about previous gubernatorial elections.

    Which raises the question: Why is Mr. Cuccinelli publicly neutral on the Paul People’s Play to embarrass “His Veepness” (my nickname for the Governor who is out campaigning for the second spot)?

    There are only three possible reasons.

    1. “Have Brief, Will Travel” believes he can’t change the outcome. Mr. Cuccinelli has decided he doesn’t want to risk being seen like “His Veepness” or “Bowling Alone” (my nickname for the LG) — rejected by his own party.

    2. Based on his own political calculations, Mr. Cuccinelli wants a Convention. This would seemingly include a belief that he would have a better chance of controlling the overall GOP ticket. For example, in a primary, Mr. Cuccinelli might feel he could wind up with an “unbalanced” ticket, as they say in politics. A convention process, with his delegates in control (at least in theory), could give the AG a better chance to control the ticket selection.

    3. “Have Brief, Will Travel” knows he could block the move to a Convention, but the price in terms of political capital – he would need to ask Paul’s People to back down – is too costly.

    ANALYSIS:

    The claim, being floated by pro-convention forces, that they are just trying to save the Commonwealth from having to pay for a primary, defies their own actions. This coming Tuesday, the GOP is holding a primary to pick its Senate nominee! They held a primary earlier this year in the presidential!  So with all due respect, please stop insulting the intelligence of the people.

    The attempt to move from primary to convention is all about 200-proof politics: claiming it is  for the good of the people is 200-proof moonshine.

    As I have previously written, a primary offers Cuccinelli, based on history, a unique way to get a big win, and move ahead of McAuliffe by double-digits as the general election starts. By contrast, a convention process gives no so such huge boost. As for a convention being cheaper, that is silly too; it just moves some spending from the nomination process into the general election. As for controlling the ticket, that is very risky and in fact, has tended to blow up on those in the GOP who have tried it before.

    Conclusion:

    In my view, Mr. Cuccinelli appears to be allowing bad feelings over 2012 to seep into the 2013 GOP race for Governor. He was no fan of Romney;  indeed, the former Massachusetts Governor got barely 56% of the vote against Ron Paul in the Virginia GOP presidential primary.

    Given Virginia’s importance to the GOP this year in any equation trying to get to the magic 270 electoral votes, it doesn’t help Romney to have party regulars embarrassing his top state backers.

    My point being: There is no legal reason – assuming the switch to a convention would be legal – for demanding a vote next weekend. Instead, it could be put off until after the November election and still meet the requirements of state law in terms of a party choosing its method of gubernatorial nomination. Mr. Cuccinelli could surely get the GOP central committee to put off the decision until December. None of the candidates can really campaign until the presidential is over anyway.

    Accordingly: To push for this decision to be made NOW can only be fully understood in the context of the recent GOP presidential nomination fight. It is aimed at embarrassing Romney’s top backers. And Cuccinelli knows that.  

    For such a smart guy, it surprises me that Mr. Cuccinelli would not simply want to put 2012 behind him, and focus only on 2013. Ron Paul can’t help him in Virginia, but McDonnell and Bolling can — the same with their biggest supporters. In 2013, Cuccinelli will need them more they need him, especially at this rate.

    I understand why the Ron Paul people want payback on “His Veepness” and “Bowling Alone.” That’s the kind of politics that produces losers. For his part, Cuccinelli is trying to be a winner.