VA governor's race a harbinger of 2014
Back in 2009 when Scott Brown won a surprise victory in the Massachusetts senate race, Chris Christie took the New Jersey governor's race, and Bob McDonnell won in a landslide to take the Virginia governor's seat, it was believed at the time that those three races augered well for GOP prospects in the 2010 mid terms.
This year, it's a little different. In 2013, Christie is heavily favored for re-election, and the Massachusetts senate race is close but the GOP candidate Gabriel Gomez is running uphill.
What about Virginia?
Perhaps no other statewide race will be watched with more interest this year than the Virginia governor's race. And the Republicans just upped the ante by nominating three strong conservatives for statewide office.
Rejuvenated by a Democratic scandal in Washington and a tea party conservative atop their ticket, Virginia Republicans Saturday nominated a trio of statewide candidates whose fate will be closely watched as an indicator of the health of the national GOP.
Crusading state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, facing no intra-party opposition, accepted the Republican gubernatorial nomination at the state convention here and used his remarks to preempt attacks on his conservative views and lash Terry McAuliffe, his Democratic opponent.
Conservative state Sen. Mark Obenshain, whose father was the Virginia GOP's Senate nominee 35 years ago only to die in a plane crash, easily beat a single opponent to win the attorney general race here. And thanks in part to what was far by the best-received speech of the day, E.W. Jackson, a little-known conservative, African-American pastor, won the lieutenant governor nomination in an upset, besting six opponents after four ballots.
Virginia officials were given the chance to bid for a GreenTech plant to be built in the state, but they had "grave doubts" about the firm's business model, the New York Times reports. The Cuccinelli campaign is seizing on McAuliffe's link to GreenTech, compiling a 58-page report of opposition research. Chris LaCivita, Cuccinelli's political strategist, told the paper the campaign intends to make GreenTech an issue in the campaign.
These local scandals will play a larger role in the campaign than anything happening in Washington. And both parties will see the result next November as a straw in the wind for how things might unfold in 2014.
* A previous version of this blog post identified Cuccinelli as allowing a donor to pay for catering at his daughter's wedding. That allegation has been made against Governor McDowell, not Cuccinelli.
I regret the error.