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McAuliffe tries to ride shutdown to victory in November

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Part 15 of 51 in the series Shutdown 2013

ON THE LEFT: Terry McAuliffe figures that vaguely promising more government spending will pave his way to Richmond, while GOP rival Ken Cuccinelli steers a more fiscally conservative course.

By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau

RICHMOND – Hours before the federal government shut down, Terry McAuliffe’s campaign aired a TV ad that declared “Extreme Tea Party Republicans in Washington are playing games with Virginia’s economy.”

The not-so-subtle dig at GOP rival Ken Cuccinelli reminded Virginia voters — in case anyone had forgotten — that the conservative attorney general has been a longtime tea party favorite.

McAuliffe, meanwhile, was in New York on Monday night, collecting $25,000 checks from couples at a second fundraiser hosted by Hillary Clinton. Bill Clinton had already given $100,000 to his former Democratic National Committee chairman.

The day-old government shutdown, and the smoldering debate over Obamacare, have both gubernatorial candidates jousting for political advantage barely four weeks before Election Day.

Two Virginia political scientists say the edge goes to McAuliffe, at least for now.

“Approximately half of the families in Northern Virginia have at least one person who works for the federal government – so it’s tangible,” Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, told U.S News. “If you’ve got someone in your family whose job depends upon the federal government to stay open, it’s going to matter to you.”

Steve Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington, said “moderate voters are really offended by government misconduct” in the shutdown.

“Polls show the Republicans are more likely to be blamed than the Democrats on this and this will not help the Cuccinelli campaign,” he told the Daily Press of Newport News.

Still, McAuliffe has big budget vulnerabilities. And some of his baggage comes from the White House’s health-care agenda.

Watchdog.org reported last month that McAuliffe’s 10-point spending plan has no price tag and no funding behind it.

McAuliffe repeatedly refused to provide details during last week’s gubernatorial debate in Fairfax. He has since said that federal funding for Medicaid expansion – part of the Obamacare package – could be used to finance additional programs.

In a skeptical editorial, the liberal Washington Post stated, “Counting on this program as a revenue source to fund a broad economic agenda poses several problems.”

McAuliffe says he would veto any state budget bill that did not contain Medicaid expansion. Republicans say such fiscal brinksmanship echoes what’s going on across the Potomac.

“Terry McAuliffe is proposing spending plans that even The Washington Post says are not ‘sustainable or realistic,’” says Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix.

For his part, Cuccinelli can claim fiscal restraint.

The attorney general’s office has consistently returned money to the general fund each year, despite a decreasing general fund budget.

Still, financial prudence isn’t necessarily being rewarded by the public. In a national Reuters/Ipsos poll released Monday, 25 percent of respondents said Republicans would be blamed for a federal shutdown, 14 percent knocked Obama and 5 percent held the Democrats responsible.

Factoring the shutdown into the gubernatorial race — where McAuliffe holds a narrow lead in the polls — Sabato said, “The effect to me is mainly pro-McAuliffe because he’s looking for motivators to get Democrats out to vote.”

But, he added, “It’s no secret that people are not in love with him.”

Kenric Ward is a national reporter and Virginia Bureau Chief for Watchdog. Contact him at kenric@watchdogvirginia.org or at (571) 319-9824. @Kenricward

Part of 51 in the series Shutdown 2013
  1. Shutdown plan: Virginia will carry federally funded state workers until Oct. 4
  2. OKC National Memorial and Museum will stay open regardless of federal shutdown
  3. TN rep equates looming government shutdown with hostage crisis
  4. Government shutdown won’t shut down NSA spying
  5. 7 myths about a federal government shutdown
  6. Obamacare goes full-speed ahead as military pay enters uncharted waters
  7. Shutdown sparks New Jersey confusion about Obamacare
  8. Federal shutdown could furlough 57,000 Virginians
  9. ‘Business as usual’ for PA state government as feds prepare for shutdown
  10. Union plans rally as MN braces for federal shutdown
  11. Only government you don’t know about could go away in Illinois
  12. Shutdown? NM seems OK on the state level, but federal workers will feel the pinch
  13. WI congressional delegation soldiers on in Obamacare-shutdown battle
  14. Shutdown? What shutdown? States will carry on despite impasse in Washington
  15. McAuliffe tries to ride shutdown to victory in November
  16. NM delegation on gov’t shutdown: It’s the other side’s fault
  17. Panda Cam goes dark as government shutdown cripples cute
  18. U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin: I’m shutting down, too
  19. Missouri’s Wagner declines congressional pay during shutdown
  20. GIs take first battle of government shutdown
  21. The horror: Shutdown delays pro-Obamacare video contest
  22. Obamacare device tax ‘devastating’ to TN manufacturers
  23. Did The New Republic call for Obama to dissolve Congress?
  24. 4 reasons to cross the Potomac during the shutdown
  25. Are furloughed park employees trying to pick a fight on Facebook?
  26. Shutdown is ‘boom time’ for political fundraising
  27. Sorry Yogi: Reid calls move to open parks a ‘wacky idea’
  28. World War II vets 90, government shutdown 0
  29. Shutdown shouldn’t alter NM oil and gas bottom line
  30. FL tourism industry is magic, shutdown or not
  31. Fed shutdown leaves Americans stranded abroad
  32. Government shutdown brings relief to Main Street
  33. GOP’s Johanns: People mad, feel ‘duped’ into believing government shutdown would stop ObamaCare
  34. Chris Matthews’ weak grasp of government shutdown history
  35. U.S. senator turns total shutdown into partial shutdown
  36. Fed shutdown grounds plan to airdrop possibly harmful substance on TN land
  37. Ohio vets ready to storm World War II Memorial
  38. Some states battling with feds to keep parks, landmarks open during shutdown
  39. Federal tourist blockades called ‘vindictive’ in Virginia
  40. Veterans’ day: Ohio vets conquer World War II Memorial during government shutdown
  41. E-Verify: Is Obama happy to see right-to-work database go?
  42. Two battlefields raise the question: Who maintains Civil War sites?
  43. Contradictions abound in federal shutdown policy
  44. Park Service losing $76 million a day in shutdown
  45. Nebraska federal judge tells Congress to ‘go to hell’
  46. Shutdown renews call to move western forests, parks under state control
  47. How to make NM less vulnerable to federal gov’t shutdowns
  48. Are senators playing selective service in shutdown politics?
  49. Double dipping: Shutdown means double pay for Oregon federal workers
  50. No double dipping for furloughed federal workers in Virginia
  51. Not so fast: Federal workers in Wisconsin must repay unemployment benefits

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Kenric Ward is a veteran journalist who has worked on three Pulitzer Prize-winning newspapers. A California native, he received a BA from UCLA (Political Science/Phi Beta Kappa) and holds an MBA. He reported and edited at the San Jose Mercury News and the Las Vegas Sun before joining Watchdog.org in 2012 as Virginia Bureau Chief.

Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau, is in no way affiliated with "The Virginia Watchdog". Any similarities between Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau and "The Virginia Watchdog" is completely coincidental and unintentional. Any inquiries into "The Virginia Watchdog" may be done through their site.

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