Brownlee coming out swinging means Cuccinelli in the lead
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.