In the top race of 2013, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he’s focused on jobs and the economy instead of the controversy surrounding his running mate, E.W. Jackson.
The GOP candidate in the highest-profile race in the country joined The Daily Rundown Monday to discuss his tight battle with Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, arguing he’s the best candidate to continue economic progress in the commonwealth.
Cuccinelli has been forced to answer questions after Jackson, a conservative minister who has come under scrutiny over his controversial comments on homosexuality and abortion, won the number two slot on the ticket at last month’s GOP convention.
“We had seven people running for lieutenant governor and I keep my votes to myself,” said Cuccinelli. “If I start diving into every other race, we'll lose focus off job creation and on comparing my positive record and my ten years in state government with the lousy record of my opponent.”
Cuccinelli talked about his tax plan to close tax loopholes, promising to cut spending through a ranking system and getting the input of state senators and delegates.
“They're all on the table except health care and education,” said Cuccinelli. “The way we're going to pay for this tax cut after we have that ranking, which is going to be a team effort with the legislature, we're going to start from the bottom and just zero them out.
Cuccinelli said “there will be a lot of continuity” between his policies and current Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration. McDonnell made jobs his top priority during his 2009 campaign.
“We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the whole country, and yet a big part of that is because we sit here on the other side of the Potomac, a lot of federal dollars that flow into Virginia and those are declining,” said Cuccinelli. “If you like Washington, you'll like Terry McAuliffe, and if you don't, you'll like me.”
And though Cuccinelli differed from the governor, and McAuliffe, on one of McDonnell’s signature proposals—a bipartisan transportation bill that passed the state legislature earlier this year—he said he wouldn’t fight its implementation. The bill was designed to reduce gridlock in the traffic-clogged northern Virginia suburbs through infrastructure spending.
“I didn't agree with the plan that went through this year,” said Cuccinelli. "However, it's through, it's done, that battle is over and now the real question is, do you want union-friendly Terry spending that money or frugal Ken spending that money?”
McAuliffe's campaign has made Cuccinelli’s opposition to the transportation bill a key part of its attack against the attorney general and recently released a new ad.
A former DNC chairman and fundraiser with close ties to the Clintons, McAuliffe has faced scrutiny over his electric car company GreenTech, which built its facility in Mississippi instead of the Old Dominion, and how many jobs it has created so far.