Republicans should stand up for their principles, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli insisted Saturday night as he tearfully described how many in the party abandoned him in the homestretch of the 2013 governor's race.
Defying polling results that showed him much farther behind, Cuccinelli came within 56,000 votes of beating Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the November 5 vote, out of 2.24 million cast. But Republican leaders had pretty much written him off as too conservative to win, leaving them unprepared for a late surge in support amid the disastrous launch of Obamacare starting Oct. 1.
“I jokingly tell people I'm a Republican because we're wrong less. We've got all our own issues, but when we are the party of principle, people rally to that," Cuccinelli said at a state Republican conference in Hot Springs, Va., according to Politico.
“If the Republican Party isn't there to protect [principles], there's nobody left and we need to remember that. They need to be what defines us as Republicans and not to say we need to set that aside today for some short-term advantage.'”
Aside from having been buried in the money race by McAuliffe, a longtime Democratic fundraiser and former Democratic National Committee chairman, Cuccinelli had to cope with a divided party and the expectation that he was too conservative to appeal to moderate voters, compared to Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who pointedly withheld his endorsement after Cuccinelli won the nomination.
In fact, exit polls show that while Cuccinelli lost self-described moderates to McAuliffe, 34 percent to 56 percent, he won independent voters 47 percent to 38 percent, with 15 percent going to Libertarian Robert Sarvis. Cuccinelli also won a majority of voters earning between $50,000 and $100,000 -- the backbone of the middle class -- and a plurality of voters ages 18-24, two key groups.
At the same conference, E.W. Jackson, the party's nominee for lieutenant governor who lost to state Sen. Ralph Northam, suggested that Bolling take a hike, an opinion privately shared by many Old Dominion Republicans. “Look, this is my humble opinion,” he said, “if you go work for the other side, why don't you just join them and get it over with?”