The government shutdown has placed Virginia Republican gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli in an awkward spot.
As Virginia attorney general, he was the first in the country to sue the federal government over the Affordable Care Act. But his anti-Obamacare credentials with the Tea Party have complicated his run for the governors chair in a swing state with 170,000 federal employees on furlough. Saturday night, the architect of that shutdown Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) appeared with Cuccinelli at a event with the socially conservative Family Foundation in Richmond.
During the speech, Cruz repeatedly referred to Cuccinelli as a friend, smart, principled and fierce, while Cuccinelli said nothing negative about Cruz’s efforts to block funding for the ACA — even at the cost of furloughing Virginia federal employees. In fact, he said nothing at all about Cruz, the local ABC affiliate reported.
But prior to his speech, Cuccinelli met briefly with Ted Cruz backstage and “urged him to find a solution” to the shutdown, an aide told CNN’s Peter Hamby.
Cuccinelli trails his Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe in the polls and has for months. Cuccinelli conceded in comments Friday that the shutdown was affecting the gubernatorial race, but held to the party line: that “ridiculous” Senate Democrats and the president bore responsibility. Still, he called on Congress to pass a stopgap bill to reopen the government … and put voters in his state back to work.
The Washington Post took the planned meeting as an opportunity for a editorial noting the value moderate leaders have brought to the state, and the lack of moderate impulses in either Cruz or Cuccinelli.