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Va. Senate Democratic leader: GOP to nominate ‘carbon copy’ of Cuccinelli in 33rd

State Sens. Barbara Favola (D-31st), left, and Dick Saslaw (D-35th), right, spoke during the campaign office opening of 33rd Senate District Democratic candidate Jennifer Wexton, center, in Sterling Dec. 4. Times-Mirror Photo/Trevor Baratko
The Virginia Senate's Democratic leader, Dick Saslaw, said Wednesday that local Republicans will nominate a “carbon copy” of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the upcoming 33rd Senate District special election.

At a campaign event in Sterling for 33rd District Democratic candidate Jennifer Wexton, Saslaw said a candidate like 10th Congressional District Republican Party Chairman John Whitbeck gives Democrats a “bigger target to shoot at” compared with a more moderate Republican like longtime state delegate Joe May.

May on Tuesday announced he'll seek the 33rd District seat as an independent rather than a Republican.

Hard-line conservatives like Cuccinelli are the “only people that can be nominated in [the Republican] party,” Saslaw said, adding “we intend to point that out to voters.”

“We are going to spend what it takes to win this race. We're not going to be outspent, we're not going to be out-campaigned,” said Saslaw. “ … No resources will be spared in this election.”

The Senate of Virginia's 33rd District seat will come open if attorney general-elect Mark Herring holds his advantage through the his race's recount, called for by Republican candidate Mark Obenshain. Less than 200 votes out of more than 2.2 million cast separated Herring and Obenshain in the attorney general race.

A date hasn't been set for the special senate election, though Democrats said they're expecting it to be held Jan. 7.

Saslaw (D-35th), Wexton and state Sen. Barbara Favola (D-31st) appeared together Wednesday to build momentum for the Democrat's campaign. They spoke on the prospect of a turning tide in the 20-Republican, 20-Democrat Senate of Virginia, something Saslaw called “extremely appealing.”

For the past two years, the evenly split senate has essentially been in the control of Republicans, with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling serving as the tie-breaking vote. Two senate seats held by Democrats, the 33rd District and 6th District (held by lieutenant governor-elect Ralph Northam), are now up for grabs. With the Democrat Northam serving as the state's second-in-command and potential tie-breaking vote, Saslaw said it's crucial his party hold onto both seats.

Saslaw, during an interview, would not comment on May's surprising decision to run as an independent, and the veteran lawmaker wouldn't say what his top priorities would be if the Democrats win essential control of the state Senate.

As a lobbying point for Wexton, state Sen. Favola noted there are only six women serving in the 40-person senate.

In her speech, Wexton said she's “the candidate who can continue Mark Herring's tradition of pragmatic problem-solving in the state senate.”

“We need leaders in Richmond who will make transportation a priority, who will protect women's access to health care and who will ensure that every child receives a quality education,” Wexton said.

The Democrat will face either Whitbeck or Ron Meyer, a conservative commentator and public relations professional from Herndon, in the special election. Republicans will chose their nominee at a mass meeting Dec. 16 in Sterling.

Both Whitbeck and Meyer have been quick to highlight the ailing Affordable Care Act in their campaigns. Hours after Wexton's event, Whitbeck put out an email lambasting the health care law.

“Americans are losing their health insurance and many are suffering from increased healthcare costs as a result of it,” Whitbeck stated. “Our new governor-elect already signaled his intention to force the expansion of Obamacare on Virginians, a divisive plan that will certainly hurt families and businesses. We need strong conservative leaders in Richmond who are committed to stopping this plan in its tracks.”

Whitbeck this morning did not respond to Saslaw's comments, but again attacked the Affordable Care Act.

“I'm running for state Senate on a positive message that appeals to most Virginians: ObamaCare is already hurting middle-class families, and we must prevent its expansion in Virginia," he said. "Over the coming weeks, we will be campaigning aggressively across the district to ensure voters are well-informed about the clear choices in this race."

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I can’t believe Barbara Favola figured out how to get to the this event, as it is the first time she has ever been to Loudoun County! Maybe she has a driver?

Since when did “Republican values” become unyielding stupidity in the face of a problem? 

I’m no fan of the transportation bill, because as you state, NoVA continues to get robbed and all the bill did was tells us we could pay more and keep it.  Wow, what a win for us. 

Yet this idea that a “real” Republican says no to any tax increase is moronic.  The gas tax situation was a disservice to the state.  Inflation is real, you can’t just ignore it.  Politicians should be pragmatic, responding to data and reason, not slaves to ideology.

Regarding this article, it is pretty clear they are trying to stack the deck for “their” guy Whitbeck.  I’m still scratching my head as to why the local GOP keeps going out of their way to give Whitbeck opportunities, but my only guess is they do indeed want their Cuccinelli clone to continue to have a political life. 

Unfortunately the GOP seems to continue to ignore the writing the wall after yet another loss.  Voters are tired of these candidates.  How can they run a far-right guy in a seat currently held by a Democrat?  What a way to waste the opportunity.

Women = 51% of population. Simply stated, underrepresented in state offices. 

“The best candidate should get the job” - if only it was so!

Recent elections show most qualified, most informed, most fair candidates don’t always get job because of gerrymandering and campaign mistruths. Instead we get ill-prepared partisans who bow to ALEC lobbyists, use prefab legislation because they can’t think for themselves.

Not such a bad thing considering Cucch lost by a narrow margin.

Says the democrat clone Wexton! Someone forgot to tell Joe May that voting for every tax increase is not adhering to republican values. He ran as a republican but taxes us like a democrat naturally for our own good. Needless to say getting 37 cents per dollar back from Richmond on our gas tax dollars had somewhat of a effect wouldn’t you say. As for Wexton just another clone so similar to Mary Daniel and has already stated or implied the only way to get the democrat point of view as a winner is to have a majority in the senate,you guessed it vote the party line/hack. Being a woman gives her no better grasp of issues then any other candidate. The best candidate should get the job and not because of your gender.

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