When he took the podium, President Clinton told the audience that one party, the Republican, is driven by a sense of opposition and conflict that arouses intense emotion in its followers but just compounds problems by refusing to see any reality but its own, while the other, the Democratic, believes that only by cooperation and compromise will our serious problems be solved.
I personally was struck by the fact that former State Senator Brandon Bell, a Republican, took the stage to explain why he was endorsing Terry McAuliffe for governor. (Bell once represented the senate district I live in.) Bell noted that he sat near Ken Coccinelli in the State Senate and knows exactly what motivates Cooch. Cuccinelli, Bell said, only wants what will advance his career or what fits his extremist ideology. He is incapable of putting the interests of Virginia above his own extremist views or his own self-interest.
In today's spend-heavy era of American politics, it's admittedly difficult for political candidates to fund their campaigns and their hopes for elected office without reaching far and wide for political handouts. Perhaps now more than ever the question becomes, is it appropriate for a political candidate to take money from groups or individuals that have diametrically opposed interests to at least a segment of the potential or actual constituency of the said candidate?
For Virginia's attorney general, and Republican Party candidate for Virginia governor, Ken Cuccinelli, the answer has unequivocally been, "Yes, I'll take campaign donations just about anyone who offers it." And so the plot thickens.
When asked by an attendee of Cuccinelli's campaign stop at the Hotel Roanoke on Friday whether or not he felt it was acceptable to take campaign donations from Consol, Virginia's attorney general responded, "Well I need a lot more donations. My opponent is outspending me like 2:1." In other words, Cuccinelli's argument is that he's in this 'contest' to win, not to necessarily worry about the ethical implications of his behaviors.
Rumors are flying around today that Former State Senator Brandon Bell is about to become Brandon Bell, an Independent candidate to challenge incumbent GOP Senator Ralph Smith in the Senate seat based around Salem, Franklin and Roanoke.Given the popularity of Virginia's smoking ban in bars & restaurants (59% of Americans now want smoking banned in all public places), the support for clean air & public health that made Bell so unpopular in today's extremist Republican Party could make him a rock-solid centrist choice.
This is a strong GOP seat, but with Botetourt taken out of the district in redistricting, it's one where Brandon Bell defeated Smith in the Republican primary four years ago (when Smith won by less than 100 votes to snatch the seat from Bell). Without a Democratic candidate running, and lots of friends on the Republican side, Bell has an excellent shot of pulling off the upset as an Independent candidate of the ultra-conservative Smith.