Veteran Democratic strategist says he’s pulling for Cuccinelli in Virginia governor’s race

avid “Mudcat” Saunders, a veteran Democratic Party strategist, said Monday that he is backing Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) in the Virginia governor’s race over Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe because of economic justice issues.

Saunders said he disagrees with Cuccinelli’s stance on social issues but prefers him over McAuliffe because McAuliffe is too much a product of big business and politics.

Saunders laughed off a question about whether he would make a formal endorsement of Cuccinelli – “I don’t think anybody cares who I endorse” – and said they argue about Cuccinelli’s views on abortion and gay rights.

But Saunders, who has specialized in helping Democrats reach independent and moderate voters in rural and suburban areas, said he hoped Cuccinelli wins because of his views of economic fairness.

“People want to know why all these big business people are jumping behind McAuliffe. It’s not because of social issues, it’s because of economic fairness,” Saunders said in a telephone interview.

Saunders, who often referred to Cuccinelli by his nickname, “Cooch,” also said he believes Cuccinelli’s ethical record is stronger than McAuliffe’s.


Rival ads knock Virginia gubernatorial candidates McAuliffe and Cuccinelli on ethics

Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli II launched a new TV ad Friday that portrays Democratic rival Terry McAuliffe as heartless wheeler and dealer, while a liberal super PAC began airing a spot that paints Cuccinelli as mired in scandal.

The dueling television commercials are only the latest attacks in Virginia’s increasingly bitterrace for governor.

Titled “Dealmaker,” Cuccinelli’s ad was based on a Washington Post report about McAuliffe’s business history. The story appeared in 2009, when McAuliffe ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for governor.

“Terry McAuliffe’s just a deal-maker,” it begins. “He made millions investing in companies that went bust, laid off thousands and drained employee savings. McAuliffe’s own campaign chairman said McAuliffe, ‘walked away with millions, leaving employees without pensions.’ Terry McAuliffe did whatever it took to make himself rich. Now he’ll say whatever it takes to make himself powerful.”


In a surprise, Cuccinelli wins Northern Virginia Technology Council PAC nod over McAuliffe

RICHMOND, Va. — Republican Ken Cuccinelli won an endorsement in the governor’s race on Monday from one of northern Virginia’s most influential business groups over Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

TechPAC, the political action committee of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, endorsed Cuccinelli after a forum between the two candidates and private interviews with each.

As word of the decision got out over the weekend, allies of McAuliffe’s contacted the head of TechPAC to ask him to reconsider.

Dendy Young, the chairman of TechPAC, cited what he said was Cuccinelli’s “experience in Virginia government, command of the issues, and knowledge of key technology priorities” in a release announcing the endorsement over McAuliffe.

The endorsement came as a blow to McAuliffe, who’s running on a platform of “jobs, jobs, jobs.”

He has argued that Cuccinelli’s opposition to reproductive rights and gay rights and stance on climate change would make Virginia less attractive to businesses looking to expand or new start-up ventures.


McAuliffe camp erupts over business PAC’s choice of Cuccinelli for Virginia governor

RICHMOND — High-powered Terry McAuliffe supporters made a furious attempt over the weekend to reverse a Washington area business group’s endorsement of Republican Ken Cuccinelli II for governor, with state legislators warning that “doors will be closed” to the group if it sticks by its choice.

The pressure exerted on the Northern Virginia Technology Council’s political arm, Tech PAC, by a U.S. senator, a Republican lieutenant governor at odds with Cuccinelli and several others suggests that McAuliffe’s campaign is worried that a Cuccinelli endorsement could undermine the central premise of the Democrat’s campaign — that he, an entrepreneur who started his first venture at 14, is the pro-business candidate and that Cuccinelli, a social conservative popular with the tea party, is too extreme for the state’s centrist business leaders.