Democrat Terry McAuliffe is launching a new offensive against Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia's governor's race in hopes of swaying important swing voters in the state's suburban Washington, D.C. area.
McAuliffe's campaign unveiled a new ad targeted toward northern Virginia voters on the Washington Post's local transportation blog and the newspaper's Virginia politics page. The ad includes a video of the television ad about transportation that McAuliffe's campaign has run throughout Virginia.
The new push speaks to Democrats' view that transportation is an issue on which McAuliffe has an advantage over Cuccinelli. McAuliffe has touted his role in encouraging Demcorats in Virginia's state legislature to help approve a major transportation bill supported by Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. Cuccinelli had been opposed to the legislation -- it raised some taxes to finance the new infrastructure spending -- and the Republican's campaign has argued that McAuliffe is wildly overstating his role in helping to move the legislation across the finish line.
"While Terry McAuliffe supported Governor McDonnell's bipartisan transportation compromise, Ken Cuccinelli tried to derail it every chance he got," said Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for McAuliffe. "Improving the transportation system is the business community's top priority and critical to improving quality of life for all Virginians."
Anna Nix, a spokeswoman for the Cuccinelli campaign, responded: "Even after members of his own party said Terry McAuliffe had nothing to do with passing the transportation legislation, McAuliffe is still trying to take credit for a project in which he played no role. In reality, Terry McAuliffe is indebted to Big Labor bosses who sought out project labor agreements, which would have cost Virginia $300 million for Phase Two of the Silver Line project. Ken Cuccinelli's top priority for transportation is congestion relief in the most cost-effective way possible, this stands in stark contrast to Terry McAuliffe who takes credit when none is due, deliberately misleads about his business record and refuses to defend the Commonwealth’s right-to-work law.”
Cuccinelli has said, though, that while he had opposed McDonnell's transportation plan, he would move forward with its implementation if elected.
"I didn't agree with the plan that went through this year," Cuccinelli said on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" on Monday. "However, it's through. It's done. That battle is over. And now, the real question now is whether you want union-friendly Terry spending money, or do you want frugal Ken spending that money?"
Still, the McAuliffe campaign hopes the transportation issue (as well as Cuccinelli's opposition to extending the DC-area Metro system to Dulles International Airport in northern Virginia) will sway voters against Cuccinelli in the populous Washington suburbs. Cuccinelli was elected to the state Senate from the region, and performed well in the region in his election as state attorney general. (President Barack Obama beat Republican nominee Mitt Romney last fall in the northern Virginia counties that include most of DC's suburbs.)
"They have a different vision of where the party needs to go in Northern Virginia to be successful," said former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., last week of the two gubernatorial candidates. "I support him [Cuccinelli], but he’s got to be realistic that his opposition to the Silver Line is not a net plus."