Gubernatorial Candidates Wallow in Shutdown Politics
As the federal government officially enters its first shutdown in 17 years, local political candidates for office on both sides of the aisle are using the stalemate in Washington to further their own ambitions.
Virginia’s Republican attorney general and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli and several of his allies in the national and local branches of the party have been decrying a potential shutdown for weeks in an effort to link his Democratic competitor, Terry McAuliffe, a former head of the Democratic National Committee, to a culture of brinksmanship and refusal to negotiate (they claim, on the part of Democrats) in Washington.
In a Sept. 25 televised debate, Cuccinelli, behind in most public polls of the governor’s race, attempted to link McAuliffe to Washington after McAuliffe made statements that he would veto any budget that did not include a Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The two sparred over that point throughout the debate.
Tuesday, following the start of the Washington shutdown, Cuccinelli issued a statement lamenting the failure of President Obama and Congress to "work together" to prevent such a shutdown, noting that there are nearly 175,000 Virginians who are employed by the federal government and criticizing McAuliffe and Democrats for "draw[ing] red lines."
"While we’re all frustrated by what’s going on, what has surprised me most of all has been the steadfast refusal on the part of Democrats - led by President Obama and Harry Reid - to even sit at the negotiating table," Cuccinelli said. "Of course, it’s not surprising that Terry McAuliffe, who has redefined what it means to be a Washington insider, is trying to score political points over a government shutdown that is going to affect hundreds of thousands of Virginians. The reality is, he’s the only candidate in this race who has repeatedly called for a shutdown of Virginia’s government when he said he would not sign a state budget that did not include the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion. ... The bottom line in Virginia’s Governor’s race is this: if Virginians like what they’re seeing in Washington right now, they have a candidate in Terry McAuliffe who will replicate that intransigence and failure."
One of Cuccinelli’s longtime allies during his time as a state senator, Senate Majority Leader Thomas Norment Jr. (R-James City, Poquoson, Hampton, Suffolk, Isle of Wight, York, New Kent, Gloucester, King William, King and Queen Counties) also issued a statement blasting McAuliffe.
"The looming government shutdown over the budget standoff in Washington serves as a reminder that Virginia’s capital and our nation’s capital are very different," Norment said. "Virginia may not be perfect, but it is not Washington, either.
"With his self-professed commitment to shut down Virginia government unless ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion scheme is enacted, Terry McAuliffe reminds us again that he is a member of the Washington establishment. And, he will readily employ the tactics that have become commonplace there. Just because holding our schools, public safety, and transportation system hostage have become part of the regular order of business in Washington doesn’t mean the tactic should be replicated in Richmond. To ensure what is happening in Washington now doesn’t recur next spring in Richmond, Virginians should reject Terry McAuliffe on November 5."
Del. Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax, Prince William counties), an archconservative from the Centreville area and the House Republican Caucus chairman, also piled on, calling it "high comedy" that McAuliffe should be concerned about a government shutdown due to his veto pledge regarding the Medicaid expansion.