Brownlee coming out swinging means Cuccinelli in the lead

By VA Blogger

The conventional wisdom is quickly forming that the Republican Primary for Attorney General is “Cuccinelli’s to lose”. This is due to several factors: his head-start in announcing, his experience winning campaigns, his connections in Richmond and throughout the party, and a populous home base.

Now we have another indicator: John Brownlee. It’s a well-established axiom that whatever candidate is behind is the one that takes unnecessary pot-shots at his opponent. Usually this plays out closer to the election, but not always. In the last two weeks, Brownlee has dug into Cuccinelli on his half-year finance report, and on Friday hit Ken again based off a Bearing Drift podcast.

You can read Brownlee’s reaction here at BD, as well as thoughts on the content of it here at Mason Conservative and Crystal Clear Conservative. Beyond that, from a political standpoint, Brownlee is charting a dangerous course. Most Republicans I’ve talked to would be happy with either candidate. Every Cuccinelli supporter I know (including myself) thinks highly of Brownlee. The only negativism I’ve found so far has come from Brownlee supporters, and now Brownlee himself.

But taking these cheap shots at Cuccinelli at every turn does two things: 1) It quickly establishes Cuccinelli as the man to beat; while this would likely be true regardless of Brownlee’s recent actions, it is a tactit admission on his behalf that he’s currently trailing. And 2), it creates negative feelings towards Brownlee.

Those of us who support Cuccinelli, particularly the bloggers based in Northern Virginia, know Ken well, which is the basis of our support for him. He is prone, however, to enjoying only soft support from other Virginians who don’t know him as well, particularly those based in Richmond and Hampton Roads. These voters should be Brownlee’s targets, but going unnecessarily negative early and (as MC and CCC argue) poorly will turn party activists off. It also can harm the party’s eventual nominee, no matter who it is, against Steve Shannon, who will be the strongest part of the Democratic ticket.

Cuccinelli for his part has so far ignored his primary opponent. With the 2008 election just over three months away, this is probably a smart strategy, as Ken has nothing to gain for responding to anything Brownlee does just yet. However, when the race starts heating up, it is my hope that both men (and Dave Foster as well) will avoid these petty little attacks and focus on the issues, as well as the experience that each brings to the table.

We have a tremendous opportunity in 2009 to take back our state, and a strong and unified ticket will lead to fruit on downballot races across the state. Cuccinelli, Brownlee, and Foster should learn from Bill Bolling’s example and put the good of the party ahead of personal gain, and conduct a fair and civil campaign. When put in contrast to the guaranteed nastiness the Democrats will exhibit in both their Governor and Lt. Governor primaries, the choice of which party is best to lead Virginia will be clear.


  • NoVA Scout says:

    My guess is that Cuccinelli’s “Populous home base” is largely unimpressed with him.

  • t says:

    If Brownlee wants to gain traction, then he will communicate his record and plans for advancing the pro-life cause as AG.

    Until this happens, he will be twisting in the wind.

  • VA Blogger says:

    NoVa Scout: We shall see. I think it’s not useful to try and make generalizations about everything. Let’s just suffice to say that some in NoVa will support Cuccinelli, and some will not.

    The trick for Brownlee is that those in NoVa who don’t support Cuccinelli may be more tempted to support Foster than him.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    I’ve indicated earlier that Cuccinelli’s troubles in his own district probably indicate a general weakness in NoVA (I’m assuming that incumbency helps a lot in GA races and that if you struggle against nobodies in your own district up here, you’re probably going to do worse in NoVA as a whole). This leads to the previously remarked irony that, in a hypothetical general election, Cuccinelli might be stronger in Brownlee’s neck of the woods, and Brownlee stronger up here. But if we’re trying to pick the guy who has the best chance of winning statewide in the general (a process that the RPV seems to avoid assiduously, if I may be permitted a snarky aside), it’s not at all clear to me that Cuccinelli gets anything at all by being from Northern Virginia.

  • Cucinelli on the ticket makes it sooo much easier for people to play the bogus “Taliban Bob” card on McDonnell.

    Why do I have a problem with Cooch? He is the ringleader of the Puritan faction who wants to keep the party as insulated and “pure” as possible. That’s good for Cooch and bad for the party as a whole. I believe he is a selfish politican.

  • 200 Grande says:

    Cuccinelli wants to keep the party pure in the sense that he advocates for limited government and low taxes.

    It’s too bad we cannot discuss the particulars of how Cuccinelli applies this philosophy; instead, some keep throwing the word “Puritan” around. This name-calling descends from the personality conflicts within the Republican 10th CD Committee, i.e., Jim Rich. On this note, I am looking forward to Anna Lee and A Sully Voter’s next installment in this saga!

  • There’s a lot more to this than the 10th District Committee. And the Puritans quest for control goes way beyond limited government and low taxes. For those who want to whip out the RINO term all too often, Puritan isn’t such a bad nickname.

  • Anna Lee says:

    I wouldn’t be writing this, because I agree with VA we need to focus on the election of 2008.
    But, I just had my Sunday evening rudely disrupted by a robo call from Ken Cuccinelli. After asking the typical questions, such as taxes, energy, second amendment, the life issue, he asked if I would support him for AG. I said, NO, them he asked if I were a male. Why would he ask me such a question? Is it because he has a sexiest mentality? I took great offense that he would have robo calls made on a Sunday. Isn’t he a devote Catholic? I would suggest he take me off his call list. I am supporting John Brownlee.

    Why shouldn’t John Brownlee draw and emphasize the difference in the credentials of both candidates? That is not being negative. Brownlee has credentials he can be proud of.

    One more thing, those who think Cuccinelli is qualified to be AG remind me of the Obama supporters who think Obama is qualified the be President. Qualifications and experience does matter. John McCain is far more qualified just as John Brownlee is far more qualified. Now that being said, I feel we have a very important to election to focus on in the here and present the future of our country is at stake. Lets put the 2009 race on the back burner until after November 4th,

    For those in the 10th District please go out and work very hard for McCain, Wolf and Gilmore, for those in the other districts focus on McCain, Gilmore your Republican Congressional candidates. Lets win.

  • Moderate R says:

    While I still consider myself undecided in the race, I can’t help but note that Brownlee has a far stronger resume for an AG than Cuccinelli does. The AG is, in effect, the chief law enforcement officer of Virginia, and it’s a position that demands someone with some kind of experience in that regard. Ken doesn’t have that. And, given the fact his district is extremely likely to go Democrat if he leaves it and our razor thin margin in the Senate, I have to question his motives – why run now? He looks selfish running right now, given the current predicament the party is in. Sure, AG is a stepping stone to Governor, but he’s got to wait out Bolling’s turn, too.

    Also, can someone explain to me what exactly the AG is going to be able to do to “advance the pro-life cause?” Last time I checked the only elected official who can do that is the President, by nominating conservatives for the Supreme Court. The whole pro-life fetish the party has in Northern Virginia makes no sense to me. We’ve got more important things to deal with.

  • Of course Cuccinelli is the favorite. He’s a sitting Senator from NOVA with a lot of grassroots and blog support. The real question is why is someone with all of Cuccinelli’s advantages not able to raise $500,000 and simply squash Brownlee? I don’t have the answer.

    I was also a little surprised by this part of the recent Cuccinelli Compass.

    I’m assuming it was an oversight. I certainly hope Cuccinelli was aware that the deal he is asking for was struck long ago and well known in legal and political circles. Both guys need to “tighten up their games” a little because Shannon will be formidable.

  • NovaConservative says:

    Anna Lee–
    You’re doing yourself a very real disservice by comparing Ken Cuccinelli to Barack Obama. Seriously–stop and think before writing something like that.

    I’ve been inclined *NOT* to believe the garbage about you that gets floated around–I’m sure you’re aware of what I’m speaking of. I know for a fact that you’ve done a lot of good for a lot of Republican candidates.

    But stuff like this—first, you can’t have it both ways on your “lets focus on ’08” message while cheap shotting Ken C. first. Let me make it perfectly clear–I’m absolutely undecided on the AG race (for the reason you cite, actually–its a long time until that election and like you I think we have our work cut out for us in this way). But unless the Brownlee suppoters (like you) don’t knock it off with this “resume” crap (which is being taken to the extreme with the Obama comparison) than I’m honestly not even going to give your guy a fair look. I have absolutely no patience for arguments that insult my intelligence and that’s one of them.

    I said it before and said it again: BOTH these candidates are well qualified to be Attorney General. We can debate the relative merits of their candidacy and its perfectly legitimate to say that one is more qualified than the other, but they’re both qualified. Barack Obama is NOT qualified to be President. There is a difference.

    Now, on the merits, your arguments are illogical because “resume” has only limited usefullness in an electoral system. We don’t elect our representatives based on who has the best resume. And its probably a good thing. We’re looking for the best package–somebody who is qualified, but also somebody who can raise money, is media savvy, and can win races.

    So if I were Mr. Brownlee or one of his supporters, I’d be using this stage of the race to prove I even belong in it. Ken C. wins elections, we know that. Sure, some people want to minimize his effectiveness because he’s barely squeaking by, but he’s squeaking by in a district that virtually no other Republican would hold. Go ask Jay O’Brien or Jeanmarie Devolites Davis about that.

    But Brownlee needs to raise money and build an organization before he’s even in the conversation because he’s NOT somebody who has a track record of electoral success.

    And btw–you’ve never down campaign work on a Sunday? Cut the crap. Seriously.

  • NovaConservative says:

    Apologize for the typos (down instead of done, etc), but the more I thought about Anna Lee’s post, the more irritated I got.

    And that’s a pretty good sign that you are not doing your guy any favors by posting on here, isn’t it?

  • Linda B says:

    Let’s break it down:

    Brownlee’s coming from behind.

    Cooch serves his constituents exceedingly well, has great integrity, isn’t afraid to say what he believes and is on the right side of the issues as far as most conservatives go.

    Not much left to work with. Ergo, cheap shots.

    That said, I do think it will be easier for a Democratic opponent to draw distinctions vs. Cuccinelli and go after him in a way a conservative opponent can’t when it comes to the general election. If Cooch does win the primary, he’ll need all the votes he can get. I only hope Brownlee’s tactics wouldn’t result in an erosion of that support.

  • t says:

    Anna Lee, you never answered the question: Are you a male?

    Moderate R, whenever the General Assembly passes pro-life legislation, abortionists Planned Parenthood and NOW sue to invalidate the law. The AG is the person who defends against such suits, ergo that person must be a committed pro-lifer.

  • VA Blogger says:


    Oleszek tried to draw those same distractions, and it didn’t work in a Democratic district. I have no doubt that Ken will be able to overcome those obstacles in a center-right state.

  • G. Stone says:

    Anna Lee
    Your analogies are silly. Agendas are fine as long as there is some substance to your position. Your take on Ken C. so far has been vindictive, off base and frankly a bit loopy.

    Linda B. nails it again.

  • A Voter says:

    I just love how it’s the fringe-leftist R’s who are dripping with venom against Senator Cuccinelli.

    We know that you jokers want all republicans to pick up Democrat stances on issues of importance, so that the two parties are indistinguishable from one another… we get it.

    We also know that Senator Cuccinelli doesn’t acquiesce to this vexed ideology of yours, and that this infuriates you to know end.

    However, when you all go on your rants about Ken not being electable, when he’s the ONLY candidate of the two who has ever been elected to ANYTHING, it doesn’t help your case.

    From the limited information we know on Brownlee, he doesn’t seem to be a bad guy. However, when the leftists start attacking Senator Cuccinelli on Browlee’s behalf… you have to be wary of why people of their ilk see value in Brownlee… because it’s clear that a Republican ideology is of no value to them.

  • novamiddleman says:

    One sentence

    Brownee is more qualified than Cuccinelli

    Also, for those of you worried about party unity. Cuccinelli has been an extremely strong and vocal part of almost every interparty fight. I’ll let the readers decide if this is a good thing or not.

  • t says:

    Those fights were wortyh causes and Cooch took a leadership role in each one. This speaks volumes about his integrity and his authenticity.

    Where was Brownlee during these critical moments in our party’s history? Nowhere to be found.

  • t says:


  • Moderate R says:

    For the record, I’m not attacking Cuccinelli. Like I said, I haven’t made up my mind. But when I look at him and Brownlee, something makes me think he may not be the right man for this job. It seems like the only thing he has to qualify him for being AG is the fact that he’s an attorney. He’d be better off running for Lt. Governor when Bill Bolling runs for Governor in 2013. Clearly, Cuccinelli is the front runner, but we’ve also got almost a year to the convention.

    I know he’s won elections and I know he’s taken conservative stances on issues. Why does that matter? Why does that take precedence over experience? Does it make sense for us to nominate someone based on ideology rather than on competence?

    Look at who the Democrats will likely nominate: Steve Shannon. He’s got serious law and order credentials that will likely play well statewide. Brownlee has similar credentials and can take that issue off the table. Cuccinelli is going to be defending his lack of experience throughout the campaign. This is not a race that’s going to turn on ideology. We should not only be looking at who can win, but also who will likely do the best job.

    Ken needs to start making the case now for why he’ll be a better AG than Brownlee. I haven’t seen him do this yet.

  • novamiddleman says:

    Moderate R you hit the nail on the head with this

    Does it make sense for us to nominate someone based on ideology rather than on competence?

    IMHO Until more Rs realize this we are going to have a tough time as a party

    The tactic of having people run based on how long they have been with the party or their “party status” over competenece is a recipie for failure and is what a shrinking and scared organization does.

  • A Voter says:

    If experience is your guide, then Brownlee’s lack of campaign experience, along with no experience in being responsive to constituents and no track record as to how he would perform in public office need to also be taken into account… right?

    Delegate Steve Shannon has experience in all of these areas, and to a greater extent so does Senator Cuccinelli.

    The two things that raise red flags for me with Brownlee is that 1) Brownlee has no political background to prepare him for office, and no track record with which we can evaluate him. 2) The individuals and bloggers who seem to have great angst against the bedrock foundations of the republican party platform are all in love Brownlee!

  • Moderate R says:

    A Voter, to respond to your first question, I’d say no. You can hire campaign folks who know their way around a campaign. As long as you do what they tell you to do, you aren’t any worse off than any other individual running for office without prior elected experience. Plenty of public servants ran for a ‘senior’ job as their first one – conservatives need look no further than Ron Paul, whose first successful campaign was for Congress.

    As for how Brownlee will perform ‘in public office’, I’d point out that being a US Attorney is a presidential appointment requiring Senate confirmation. That’s a pretty senior public office. But I agree that his lack of public stances on a variety of issues he may face as AG is an issue.

    I, for one, don’t have ‘great angst’ against the bedrock principles of the party, as defined in the RPV’s Party Creed. We all support those issues – if we didn’t, we wouldn’t call ourselves Republican. At the same time, I don’t think we should be picking our candidates on the basis of who is the most conservative, or who passes X litmus test. The fact that Cuccinelli and Brownlee are arguing over who is more pro-life is stupid. Unless you’re running for President or Senate, your stance on abortion doesn’t really matter.

    I want to hear from Cuccinelli why he will be a better AG than Brownlee, and I don’t want to hear about his stance on issues he can’t affect as AG.

  • cageyd says:

    Moderate R

    You have several things incorrect in your analysis – you state that Cuccinelli and Brownlee are arguing over who is more pro-life. Brownlee raised this issue in his reply to Shaun Kenney’s comments. Ken has never argued this point with Brownlee. I do agree, however, that what Brownlee is doing is stupid (to quote you).

    Secondly you say you want to hear from Cuccinelli why he will be a better AG than Brownlee. I suggest you look at to see Ken’s positions, record, and AG plans on the issues important to the people of Virginia. Ken has been campaigning around the state and telling people why he would be an excellent AG, based upon his record, his principles and his vision as AG. He has no need to “say why he is better than Brownlee”.

    Evidently Brownlee feels it is necessary to say why he is better than Ken but then again he has no public record to run on for many of the important issues that an AG would face. Is it an effective strategy for Brownlee to attempt to create a record by attacking Ken positions and then saying “I’m better than Ken Cuccinelli”? I am looking for substance with John Brownlee and so far I have seen very little.

  • Moderate R says:


    This is a primary. I plan on supporting whomever the Republican candidate is, whether it’s Ken or Brownlee. But in order for me to support Ken, I need to know why he thinks he will be a better AG than Brownlee. Brownlee is trying to make this argument. You say Ken has no need to say this – I say there are plenty of likely delegates like me who want to see this. There are respectful ways a candidate can make this case without slinging mud. I don’t need to see an attack ad, but I would like to see some compare/contrast information so I can make an informed decision. He can run on his record in the general.

    You’re right – right now, Brownlee is short on substance. He doesn’t even have an issues page up on his website.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    “A Voter”: who are these “fringe leftist Rs” you’re referring to? There seems to be a lot of reservation about Cuccinelli even around here, where we are all bedrock conservatives.

    Cuccinelli strikes me as more intelligent than the average slogan spouting, cartoon conservative that we we have seen so much of in recent years in Virginia. I think he knows that it’s a con. So there is hope that he could change. But I classify him as one of those who have done great harm to the Party by removing it from serious consideration as a force of good governance in the Commonwealth. He has done that willingly and aggressively, not just in his district, but has occasionally tried to throw his weight (not very considerable, and not very successfully) into neighboring areas, again to the great detriment of the Party and the reputation of Republicans as a group that knows how to manage a government. I think these types are on the verge of extinction and look forward to their complete demise. Only then can we have a resurgence of substantive conservatism that serves the people of Virginia. But, knowing that Cuccinelli is an opportunist, and a not unintelligent one, it’s not too late for him to start living up to his potential. He could help lead the reformation rather than delay it. But he has to get real about what state government is and what the legislator’s obligations to the people are.

  • A Voter says:

    Oh, it’s not very hard to find them NoVA Scout… in fact if you have to ask, you probably don’t have to look very far at all. Maybe you should get together with Loudoun Insider, and Anna Lee and conduct a fact-finding mission to discover where these individuals may reside…

  • NoVA Scout says:

    I’m not that interested, AV. I tend to hang with conservatives.

  • A Voter says:

    Well, that’s understandable NoVA Scout. it’s always good to have a token-liberal in the group, to get a difference in opinion.

    It would be interesting to see what your interpretation of “conservative” is, since standing up for conservative principles is evidently a negative characteristic in your eyes.

  • For all the Cuccinelli supporters who can’t figure out why everyone in Virginia isn’t in love with him – I give you “A Voter” as Exhibit A. As I’ve said over and over again, I have not endorsed either guy and think they’re both fantastic candidates but the philosophy behind folks like A Voter is what drives some people away from his candidate and, sadly, our Party.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    au contraire, AV. I’ve been standing firm for conservative principles on this site and others for more than three years now. I’m all for it, but real conservatives are hard to find in the Virginia political scene these days. We get a lot of shallow imitations. Gresham’s Law and all that.

    BTW, what’s your political orientation? I can’t make heads or tails of it.

  • A Voter says:

    You’re answering a question with a question, NoVA Scout. I’m asking what your interpretation of “conservative” is?

  • NoVA Scout says:

    When I write books, AV, I expect to get paid for it. I don’t do it on demand from blog commenters whose volume exceeds their substance. I sense that you’re not the bookish type, in any event.

    But, because I’ve had a cup of quite good coffee and have a few minutes before I go out to secure game for the family table, and because I sense you might be someone I could convert to conservative causes, and just to play along with your solicitous curiosity, I’ll offer up the simple, kindergarten version of some of the attributes of conservative political attitudes. If you’re interested you can read more deeply and you may even elect to change your life by abandoning the cardboard version that seems to attract you.

    Modern political Conservatism is based on a deep awareness of human history and human nature, both alone and in groups. It rests on strong belief in individual liberty and dignity and is skeptical that governments get better as they get larger or more powerful. In the American context, I can just give you some earmarks as examples. It is possible to adhere to conservative principles and be either (or neither) a Democrat or Republican. Both parties legitimately see themselves as having a lot of other fish to fry beyond purity to Locke-ian ideals. But within each Party, the figures that conservatives tend to gravitate toward are free market, free trade, internationalist outlook, pro-civil rights and individual liberties, fiscal restraint hawks (it’s not just a question of low taxes, but that’s part of it), defenders of the U.S. Constitution (hard to find a single Republican in Virginia who even knows what’s in the document – the Dems are no better, but it gets really confusing when so many R pols disguise themselves as “conservatives”), particularly its protections of individual liberties. On the latter point, while conservatives are often individually religious, they are strong supporters of keeping government away from religion as a matter of protecting religion against being degraded by getting dragged through the Public Square. Conservatives are well-informed and realistic, they are inherently non-ideological (ideologies tend to obscure reality, conservatives feel a need and responsibility to understand reality).

    That’s a pretty deracinated stick-figure drawing for you, but I think it’s all you’re up for at this early stage of your first exposure to conservative political philosophy. I hope it may draw you toward us a bit and you’ll read up on your own. You may come to see that political conservatism offers some hope for the betterment of humanity. That’s not its purpose, but a strong conservative ethic can be a protection against demagoguery (another problem that we have in abundance within Virginia Republican circles) and governmental abuse of the citizens’ lives and treasure.

  • Jose Kinusee says:

    I’d vote NoVA Scout for any office.

  • Ladies and gentlemen the debate, to the extent it was ongoing, is now over. NoVA Scout’s post was one of the most well thought out and informative comments I’ve read on the blogosphere in a long time.

    I suggest this blog pick up on the comment and do a post (or series) on what it means to be “a conservative.” NoVA Scout’s comment can be the first installment.

  • novamiddleman says:

    Permit me to take it one step forward

    (this will really set off some fireworks)

    In case its not clear enough
    (pro-civil rights and individual liberties)
    An actual conservative would be

    Pro-Choice and Pro-Gay Rights

    In fact the most conservative members of congress are often the Blue Dogs, especially ones that support the second amendment.

    If the Democratic Party of Virginia had any sense they would adopt a blue dog platform and be virtually indestructible. It would be run by Dan and Richmond Dem :-p. Instead we have some sort of hybrid mess and the whole farce that is the progressive movement which is why I stay in the R column for now.

    Nova Scout please feel free to add/correct this

  • A Voter says:

    Heh, NoVA Scout – you’ve made quite a few assumptions about me. It calls into question your analytical prowess, as most of these assumptions are blatantly false. However it is a comical read, to say the least – so thank you for that!

    That aside, your write-up was interesting. Especially the aspects of social conservatism that were either ignored or else purposefully omitted. Do you simply choose not to identify these components of the current conservative movement in this country, or was this left out accidentally?

  • novamiddleman says:

    Hey A voter

    Let me spell it out to you even further

    Social “Conservatives” ignore the following

    pro-civil rights and individual liberties


    they are strong supporters of keeping government away from religion

    not to mention

    hard to find a single Republican in Virginia who even knows what’s in the document – the Dems are no better, but it gets really confusing when so many R pols disguise themselves as “conservatives

    Now I realize you are a large part of the R coalition so don’t get offended but we are talking about actual conservatisim here. If social conservatives had their way there would be a giant nanny state telling you how you could marry and how to control your body. That is the exact opposite of personal libierty and freedom

  • A Voter says:

    Novamiddleman, you’re wrong, about so many things… but I would suspect that this is nothing new for you.

    The question wasn’t addressed to you, however, and I’m sure that NoVA Scout is a big boy and can answer this for himself.

  • novamiddleman says:

    A voter lets not get personal here

    Why dont you define what a social coservative is in your view. Feel free to post it on the upper thread

  • A Voter says:

    I think I’ll wait for NoVA Scout’s reply.

  • Social conservatives are not really conservatives. They are usually fundamentalists who use the term as positioning/marketing. Fundamentalist just doesn’t have all that good history working for it.

  • NoVA Scout says:

    When I get a little more time, AV, I’ll try to say something about it in the thread following Virginia Blogger’s post on this discussion. It’s an interesting question. The short answer as to why I didn’t talk about “social conservatives” is that I was only addressing political conservatism as I perceive it. I agree with edmundburkenator that there is nothing essentially “conservative” in an American political sense about the folks you label as “social conservatives.” My experience is that they tend to be statist, authoritarian, big government types, who have strong views that governments can solve a lot more problems than political conservatives trust government to solve. I essentially view most of the louder social conservatives as left-leaning liberals who are easily confused (or who confuse themselves) politically by superficial use of labels. The irony is that I share a lot of the internal values of these folks, but part with them in their notion that government and politics are proper spheres for them to propagate their perceptions of social/moral rectitude.

    Now, why don’t we take this conversation (and our cigars and brandy) upstairs to VB’s post?

  • -va says:

    Here you all go again wasting time and energy discussing Cuccinelli when we have very important elections this year. We can discuss him at length in 2009 but NOT THIS YEAR.

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