Virginia Republicans to Decide Statewide Nominees

May 28, 2009

(AP) - With Bob McDonnell assured the Republican nomination for governor, the main event at this weekend's GOP state convention will be choosing a nominee for attorney general.

State Sen. Kenneth Cuccinelli, former U.S. Attorney John
Brownlee and Arlington lawyer and former school board member Dave
Foster will end months of energetic campaigning Saturday in
balloting by Republican delegates at the Richmond Coliseum May 29th-30th.

Nearly 11,000 Republicans have signed up as delegates. The arena
holds 12,500.

Cuccinelli, a Fairfax County lawyer and the Senate's most
consistent social conservative, has the allegiance of a network of
activists on the party's right on causes such as opposition to
abortion and gay rights.

Brownlee, appointed chief federal prosecutor for Virginia's
Western District by former President George W. Bush, brings a
hard-nosed law-and-order record, endorsements from dozens of
commonwealth attorneys and sheriffs, and the backing of Jerry W.
Kilgore, a former attorney general and unsuccessful 2005 Republican
gubernatorial nominee. It's his first bid for elective office.

Foster brings his connections with voters in northern Virginia,
the affluent and populous Washington, D.C., suburbs that have been
generally unkind to Republicans in the past eight years. Foster, a
partner in a Washington law firm, was elected to the school board
in heavily Democratic Arlington.

The other convention contests are for lieutenant governor and
the third vote in a year on the embattled party chairmanship.

The top of the GOP ticket this fall was settled last year when
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling shelved plans for a 2009 run for governor and
set his course for re-election instead.

Bolling is expected to win the nomination easily over lawyer
Patrick Muldoon, who lost his 1996 challenge to Rep. Rick Boucher,
D-Va., by a 2-to-1 margin. By April, Bolling had raised $1.5
million to $30,000 for Muldoon, who is attempting his first
statewide race.

Pat Mullins, the interim state party chairman, faces a challenge
from Franklin County lawyer Bill Stanley. Both want to serve the
three years left on the four-year term Jeff Frederick won at the
2008 convention and lost in a special meeting of the state party's
central committee in April.

Frederick was removed on April 4 after party leaders questioned
his handling of party finances. His 10 tumultuous months as
chairman included a historic Republican drubbing last fall as
Virginia backed a Democrat for president for the first time in 44
years and gave Democrats both its U.S. Senate seats and three House
seats that had belonged to Republicans.

Mullins, a former Fairfax County GOP chairman who now lives in
Louisa, has the blessing of the party establishment, including
McDonnell and House Speaker William J. Howell.

Stanley, one of two attorneys who represented Frederick in his
bid to stave off his ouster, is running as the antiestablishment
candidate appealing to the same social conservatives who backed
Frederick.

McDonnell, the former attorney general, spent a spring of
relative leisure raising cash for the fall election while three
Democrats - state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, former national party
chairman Terry McAuliffe and former legislator Brian Moran - raced
toward a June 9 primary.

But that hasn't insulated McDonnell from attacks. Using more
than $3 million from the Democratic Governors Association since
March, a new political action committee, Common Sense Virginia, has
taken the fight to McDonnell while the three Democrats fight among
themselves.

With Virginia's unemployment rate climbing to 8 percent and jobs
dominating politics this year, the Democratic attack PAC has
televised a succession of ads statewide blasting McDonnell for
cheerleading legislative Republicans who voted on April 8 to reject
$125 million in federal stimulus cash to enhance unemployment
benefits for newly jobless Virginians. The newest attack ad began
this week.


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