Did Ken Cuccinelli nudge E.W. Jackson to run for Lt. Gov?

Updated
AP Photo/Steve Helber
AP Photo/Steve Helber
Steve Helber

There’s yet another twist in the Virginia gubernatorial race. When Republicans chose their nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general, the result was a lot of raised eyebrows. After the party suffered through the 2012 election because of candidates that were too extreme for average voters, here was a trio that seemed to present the same problem.

Bishop E.W. Jackson, the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, drew the most attention, in no small part due to his history of controversial comments on everything for homosexuality to Planned Parenthood to President Obama, whom he suggested harbored “Muslim sensibilities.”

Republicans and Democrats alike stood by waiting to see how Republcian nominee for governor Ken Cuccinelli would handle the situation . Endorse Jackson? Say nothing? Call him out for some of the remarks he’s made? It turned out to be something of a dodge. “We are not defending any of our running mate’s statements now or in the future,” Cuccinelli said in a statement to The Virginian-Pilot.

In Virginia, the candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately.

It’s hard to see how that would be sufficient when there are still several months to go before the election, but there’s another twist to add to the mix. According to Jackson, it was Cuccinelli who nudged him to run for lieutenant governor, back when Jackson was in the midst of his 2010 campaign for Senate. “He said essentially: I think you’d make a good candidate for lieutenant governor. Have you thought about it?” Jackson said in an interview with The Washington Post. “I do remember him suggesting that if it worked out, he would be proud to have me as a running mate.”

The Cuccinelli campaign says Jackson may have gotten the wrong idea. A campaign spokeswoman responded to The Washington Post via email. “Ken asked why the Senate and if he ever thought to run for anything else—like maybe Lieutenant Governor? E.W. may have misconstrued that as a direct ask,” explained Anna Nix.

While it might seem like the Republican candidates are in for an uphill battle in the Virginia gubernatorial race, it’s not exactly looking like an easy ride for Democrats either. Both Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe, his Democrat challenger, showed high unfavorability ratings in a recent survey from Public Policy Polling. McAuliffe came in at 29% favorable to 33% unfavorable, while Cuccinelli fared worse with 32% favorability and 44% unfavorability.

Time Magazine’s Swampland blog characterized the faceoff as “The Dirtiest, Nastiest, Low-Down Campaign in America”–and that’s just the headline. According to the piece, a Republican with knowledge of the Cuccinelli campaign described the race as “a race to the bottom,” and aides on the Democratic side did not disagree.

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Did Ken Cuccinelli nudge E.W. Jackson to run for Lt. Gov?

Updated