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.