Virginia State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli swept into Rappahannock County Saturday night with a strong conservative message that delighted a Republican crowd in Huntly as he swiftly added over $50,000 to his campaign for governor of Virginia.
At a fundraising reception at Rappahannock Cellars, an audience of more than 100 donors and supporters heard the likely Republican nominee for governor promise a campaign based on “first principles,” consistent conservative beliefs and grassroots organizing leading up to election day in November this year. Cuccinelli said he probably will be out-spent by the Democratic party in this year’s campaign, but not outworked.
Emphasizing his Virginia roots and record, Cuccinelli said, “I have run four elections in Virginia. I have been outspent in all four elections – and I have won all four elections.” He predicted he would be outspent in 2013 by his Democratic opponent, former Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe.
McAuliffe, a Northern Virginia businessman and veteran Democratic party fundraiser, served as finance chairman for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns and chaired Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign for president. McAuliffe unsuccessfully sought his party’s nomination for governor in 2009 and has never held office in Virginia.
His opponent, Cuccinelli predicted, will raise “boatloads” of money. “He is a product of his party. I am not,” Cuccinelli said. “I am more of an irritant to my party, and that’s where I am most comfortable,” he added, to laughs and cheers from his supporters.
“Thankfully, these Democrats run their campaigns like they run government,” Cuccinelli said with a grin. “There will be lots of spending, but not all of it will be effective.” The 44-year-old GOP candidate said that grassroots organizing and enthusiasm can overcome a money disadvantage in this campaign.
“We need people to show up. It’s your job to get them there [to the polls],” he said. “I am depending on your for that.”
The gathering responded enthusiastically to Cuccinelli’s message, often interrupting his half-hour talk with cheers and applause. They also responded with their pocketbooks, as the event organizers announced that the evening’s proceeds had exceeded their ambitious goal of $50,000.
Though the audience was sprinkled with a few nationally known Republican figures, most of the crowd appeared to be familiar Rappahannock faces that locals might see at the Flint Hill post office, the Sperryville store or a local church. The event was organized by a small group of Rappahannock conservatives and Republicans under the name Friends of Ken Cuccinelli.
In his remarks, Cuccinelli delivered a message of limited government, conservative principle and strict adherence to the U.S. Constitution. “The most important thing we can do to preserve liberty is to rein in government,” he declared. “We need to communicate to Virginians why that is true. There has been a woefully inadequate commitment to that in the Republican party. If the Republican party is not to be the one to defend the Constitution, then there is no one to do it.”
He said Virginia, which gave the nation the principle authors of the Declaration of Independence (Thomas Jefferson) and the U.S. Constitution (James Madison) is the perfect place to campaign on the blessings of liberty and the dangers of excessive government. He said his campaign will emphasize economic issues based on conservative principles.
“We need to deliver a message of economic opportunity to Virginians,” Cuccinelli said, citing the need to restrain government regulation that stifles job-creation and economic growth. He specifically mentioned development of Virginia’s energy resources in areas such as southwest Virginia where unemployment is high. Republicans want to provide jobs, not handouts, to people in need, he said. “We are for fishing poles – they [Democrats] are for handing out fish.”
Among the prominent figures at the reception were David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association; C. Boyden Gray, White House counsel for President George H.W. Bush; Jim Miller, budget director for President Ronald Reagan; and Richard Viguerie, a national leader of the conservative movement. The latter two are Rappahannock residents.