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Commentary: A Bizarro World Slate

Imagine a state where the incumbents of the top posts—governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general—are all from one party. Imagine it is an election year. Imagine that party convening to select their candidates. One might expect a confident, party atmosphere celebrating a relatively popular incumbent governor and great unity in the coming battle to continue to hold power.

That is not what happened at the recent Republican convention in Richmond. Instead, a relatively small number of the party’s most rabid, right-wing adherents gathered to pick possibly the least representative slate of the modern era. The incumbent governor, Bob McDonnell, pointedly skipped the convention altogether. This slick, very conservative guy still polls well despite being immersed in a major scandal (taking big bucks from Star Scientific, like an employee in the governor’s mansion). The lt. governor also dissed the rabid ones, and makes it clear he does not support the candidate for governor, Ken Cuccinelli, someone “too extreme” for even his conservative tastes. And, the Washington Times, the Republicans’ metropolitan newspaper mouthpiece, referred to the candidates which emerged as “a colossal, destructive and depressing joke.”

The wing nuts selected by those gathered are:

*For governor: Ken Cuccinelli, who spent his time as attorney general harassing respected climate scientists; suing those who would provide health care to the non-wealthy; supporting vaginal probes for pregnant women; and, taking money from Star Scientific and forgetting to report it. All that provides great fodder for late night comedians. They would love to see him as governor!

*For lt. governor: “Bishop” E.W. Jackson, a self-appointed bishop who rants about Planned Parenthood killing far more blacks than the KKK. He is African American but is sharply critical of blacks, as well as gays and immigrants.

*For attorney general: State Senator Mark Obenshain. He once proposed legislation calling for jail time for women who do not report a miscarriage within 24 hours.

These three extraterrestrials have until November to disguise themselves as earthlings and fool the voters. The betting at the moment is that in Virginia, Cuccinelli actually has a longshot chance of fooling half the voters plus one, but the other two haven’t got the proverbial snowball’s chance of doing so.

Terry McAuliffe is unopposed to be the Democratic candidate for governor. His main claims to fame are as fundraiser extraordinaire for Bill Clinton and as a would-be industrial innovator and generator of green jobs. But, he has yet to define any vision for governing beyond proclaiming that he is not Ken Cuccinelli. That is an important qualification but not sufficient grounds for election, even in Virginia.

Democrats will hold their primary election Tuesday, June 11 and expect 10 to 15 times as many participants as the Republican convention. The candidates for lt. governor are: State Senator Ralph Northam with a moderate-progressive record as a legislator, and Aneesh Chopra, former technology chief for Gov. Tim Kaine and for President Obama. For attorney general, Democrats will pick either moderate State Senator Mark Herring of Loudoun or Justin Fairfax, an assistant federal prosecutor in Alexandria. All four are solid candidates with credible public experience, unlike their far right wing Republican opponents. If you think I’m exaggerating about the Republican trio, check with Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bolling and/or the Washington Times.