RICHMOND, Va. â€“ Rejuvenated by a Democratic scandal in Washington and a tea party conservative atop their ticket, Virginia Republicans Saturday nominated a trio of statewide candidates whose fate will be closely watched as an indicator of the health of the national GOP.
Crusading state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, facing no intra-party opposition, accepted the Republican gubernatorial nomination at the state convention here and used his remarks to preempt attacks on his conservative views and lash Terry McAuliffe, his Democratic opponent.
Conservative state Sen. Mark Obenshain, whose father was the Virginia GOPâ€™s Senate nominee 35 years ago only to die in a plane crash, easily beat a single opponent to win the attorney general race here. And thanks in part to what was far by the best-received speech of the day, E.W. Jackson, a little-known conservative, African-American pastor, won the lieutenant governor nomination in an upset, besting six opponents after four ballots.
Virginia Democrats, gleeful about Jacksonâ€™s win, immediately seized on the ultra-conservative nature of the GOP ticket.
With a joke about not having yet been audited, Cuccinelli made only one direct reference to the recent controversies embroiling President Barack Obama. But the Republican standard bearer sought to tie McAuliffe, a former DNC chairman, to the nationâ€™s capital.
â€œFor Virginians who think Washington works well, they have a candidate in this race,â€ said Cuccinelli. â€œFor the rest of the Virginians who donâ€™t think Washington works so well, well, you have a candidate in this race, too.â€
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