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Cuccinelli: For a Smart Guy, Running for GUV and Staying AG Is Really Dumb

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(I’m not sure how “smart” Cuccinelli, or anyone who “denies” climate science and is wildly wrong on so many other things, really is. Be that as it may, I agree with Paul that Cuccinelli is not too bright to stay on as AG while running for governor. Good luck convincing him otherwise, though; does Kookinelli ever listen to anyone on anything?!? – promoted by lowkell)

by Paul Goldman

Following up on what I wrote yesterday, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is getting a hands-on, practical lesson why his plan to remain Attorney General even if he wins the GOP nomination for Governor is a really dumb idea. Only one AG in the modern has refused to resign at some point in the GUV election cycle. He got beat.

Let’s see if Mr. Cuccinelli learns anything about running for GUV from the fight over the proposed rule from the Board of Health on abortion clinic regulations. This is lose-lose-lose for him no matter how Governor McDonnell decides on the issue. Indeed, if McDonnell, with gilt edge anti-abortion credentials, is seen as deciding that Mr. Cuccinelli’s legal opinion is too extreme even for McDonnell, this will be very damaging to Mr. Cuccinelli.

The AG says his office’s view that the regulation is unlawful is based solely on their honest legal view. He says there is not a hint of politics or political ideology here.

Even if this is true, his being a candidate for Governor raises a legitimate question on that point to Virginia voters. He can’t prove it. Moreover, voters are entitled to question the motives of a political candidate. FINALLY: It is fair to say that when you look at the history of Mr. Cuccinelli in the AG’s office, it does seem fair to conclude that his allegedly “pure legally based legal decisions” tend to come out rather hard on the right side of the political line.

As Yogi Berra said, some things are just too coincidental to be a coincidence.

So whether he likes it or not, it is both fair, reasonable and historically based for a swing voter to ask him or her self: If this guy is elected overnor, and given that office’s unique powers, can he be trusted to be measured and wise, or he just too much the ideologue to be trusted?

ENTER NOW, the debate over the proposed abortion clinic regulation.

Because Mr. Cuccinelli is running for overnor, let me state this with 100% certainty: there is no way he will be able to portray his stance as 100% legally based. No way. He will be seen as using his office to advance an ideological agenda. Not good, Ken! And the closer we get to election day, the more political his every action is going to appear.

Moreover, Cuccinelli, by taking the kind of “Have Brief, Will Travel” gunslinger AG image, has made himself the most vulnerable Virginia AG in history on this score.

IT IS A NO-WIN POSITION FOR HIM, this really dumb idea of saying he will not resign as AG before election day in November 2013. Does he really want another 16 months of this?

Since the office of AG become basically full time in Virginia, all but one sitting AG has resigned to run for Governor at some point in their term. Miller, Baliles, Terry, Gilmore, Early, Kilgore and McDonnell all resigned. Only Marshall Coleman did not. Instead, when he realized the mistake, the GOP gubernatorial nominee agreed to take 1/2 pay, which didn’t help this problem at all. He lost.

Since then, every GOP and DEM AG running for Governor has learned from Coleman’s mistake. EXCEPT for CUCCINELLI.

The AG is a smart guy. But his plan to stay in the job and run for Governor from now all the way until November 2013 smacks of a guy who is simply too stubborn, or too ideological, or too self-absorbed to be trusted with the powers of the office of Governor.

If this perception sticks, he is DCW, Dead Candidate Walking, as regards the Governorship. And the surest way to make sure it sticks is to stay AG and get in the middle of a few more fights like the one now over the abortion clinic regulation.

When should he resign?

That’s a tough call since Mr. Cuccinelli, in terms of public profile, looms larger than all the recent AGs combined in my view.

For example, no one even knew who Jerry Baliles was for the most part. He could stay AG during a bitter primary fight with Dick Davis and no one even noticed. But Jerry saw the AG’s job differently than Ken: so he played it low key and thus had the option of not needing to resign until after winning the DEM gubernatorial nod. That is to say: Baliles didn’t get the AG’s office into the kinds of firefights that Cuccinelli seems to search out.

My own view: Cuccinelli should resign shortly after Romney loses. (I was on national TV last August predicting Romney couldn’t possibly win against President Obama, and while controversial then, I ain’t changing my view, indeed time to double down.)

True, if Cuccinelli waited until the General Assembly convened in 2013, this would allow the GA to select Mr. Cuccinelli’s hand-picked successor as opposed to letting McDonnell pick. Still, the bottom line is that the sooner the better, and soon can’t come too soon given Mr. Cuccinelli in my view as regards his GUV bid.  

Ken is a very smart guy in my discussions with him.  But he seems determined to do a really dumb thing for a guy who wants to be Governor of VA.