The Republican ticket of Ken Cuccinelli for governor, E. W. Jackson for lieutenant governor and Sen. Mark Obenshain for attorney general barnstormed the state on Monday morning, touching down at Landmark Aviation in Roanoke to be greeted by 80 supporters. It’s all about keeping the momentum going from Saturday’s exhaustively energetic convention and coalescing around the nominees.
Many of the supporters wore E. W. Jackson hats. Jackson’s four-round nomination was a coup for the Roanoke Tea Party. Although thrilled that he is the nominee, his Tea Party supporters expressed surprise at his nomination.
“We gotta win here, we gotta win here and we’re going to count on you all to do it,” said Cuccinelli to his supporters. “We’ve got a several week lead advantage on the Democrats getting their [ticket] together.”
Cuccinelli stayed on message. “Let’s get government out of the way so business’ can start, grow, stay and create jobs,” he said. “We need to make it foolish to leave.”
“My opponent thinks what’s best about Virginia is government – I think what’s best about Virginia is people.”
Cuccinelli has to get buy-in from independents and conservative Democrats. “There are a lot of people who believe on our emphasis on job creation and letting it happen in the private sector and not having government dictate it all.”
In his last four races he has been outspent but, “that hasn’t been the goal,” he mused. He admitted that Terry McAuliffe has a fundraising advantage. He quoted Brian Moran (former DPV chair) and a 2009 Democratic Primary opponent as saying to McAuliffe, “we need a fighter not a fundraiser.”
E. W. Jackson stressed Party unification. “We’ve been lied about and we want to go out there and talk to those single mothers and tell them we want them to have decent lives and see their children reach the highest heights.” He also said they plan to reach out to black citizens who have been told “we are against them. We want them to succeed,” said Jackson. He also said they would reach out to evangelicals and Hispanics.
Mark Obenshain said it has been the attorneys general throughout the country who have been the ones pushing back on what he called the overreach in federal government. “The guys on the other side have already made it clear they are not going to push back … on the environment, Obamacare or on our right-to-work laws.”
Obenshain said he would fight back against the EPA. He blamed the Obama Administration for coal miners losing their jobs. “The vision of Washington, DC that wants to transform our economy means fewer jobs for coal miners … and higher electric rates for Southwest Virginians.”
All three candidates stayed on message – the theme of which was “get government out of the way, fight Obamacare, curtail ‘overzealous efforts’ of the EPA and talk about bread and butter issues.”
How voters respond to the candidate’s positions on gay lifestyle, restrictions on abortions and resistance to Medicaid expansion remains to be seen. Democrats are saying they plan to highlight the ticket’s stances on social issues and early democratic campaign emails are doing just that.
Cuccinelli dismissed the “extreme” label that the Democrats are hanging around their ticket. “The media as a general matter is not supportive or friendly to us – we have to kind of fight through it,” he said.
Democrats will hold their primary on June 11th and will seek to catch up on the Republican ticket’s early momentum.
– Valerie Garner