August 20, 2009
Dear Fellow Virginians,
Now that the special session is over – and overshadowed by the Governor’s [admission] announcement of a $1.5 billion shortfall – I wanted to share with you the analysis of Dr. Bob Holsworth of VCU regarding the session.
Below is his article on the subject.
From Virginia Tomorrow:
The Cuccinelli Session
by Bob Holsworth, August 19, 2009
Not a minute too soon for Steve Shannon.
Cuccinelli was the first statewide candidate to recognize the impact that the U.S. Supreme Court’s Melendez decision would have on prosecutions in Virginia.
In essence, the Court’s ruling made it far easier for defense attorneys to compel live testimony by forensic analysts in drug and DUI trials. Tyler Whitley reported today that in July, 2008 there were 43 subpoenas for drug examiners in the state- this year there were more than 900.
Cuccinelli understood from the get-go that this would result in an intolerable strain on the relatively small number of forensic analysts in the state and precipitate a backlog, in both court trials and in crime scene testing.
More importantly, he also contended that the only way to solve the problem was a special session in which the Assembly would try to find ways of reducing the backlog while still complying with the Court’s mandate that crime analysts be physically present if a defendant wishes.
Steve Shannon initially thought that the matter could be handled administratively and rejected Cuccinelli’s call for a special session as a “political stunt.”
Unfortunately for Shannon, the Governor agreed with Cuccinelli.
The decision to hold the special session helped Cuccinelli in three specific ways.
First, it was confirmation that Cuccinelli’s initial judgment was sound and on-target.
Second, it enabled Cuccinelli to dispense with one of the principal arguments that his opponents had raised about him: namely, that his lack of direct experience as a prosecutor made him a less qualified candidate.
Third, Shannon and the Democrats had hoped to put Cuccinelli on the defensive from the outset of the campaign. But this didn’t happen. Instead, Cuccinelli and his chief strategist, Chris LaCivita have not missed an occasion to remind people that Shannon labeled the call for a special session a “political stunt.”
The early polls indicate that Shannon is running essentially even with Deeds, decisively lagging Cuccinelli.
Democrats believe that Cuccinelli is the weakest link on the Republican ticket. They don’t think that his social conservatism plays well across the state. And more than one Democrat has told me that “unlike McDonnell, he doesn’t try to hide it.”
Now that the special session is over, Democrats hope that Shannon can begin to draw contrasts that depict Cuccinelli as a far right ideologue, perhaps leading voters to question the perspective of the entire GOP ticket.
Shannon has accumulated a sizeable war chest and is likely to deploy it in this matter.
But it’s not a simple task.
No Democrat has been elected Attorney General for 20 years.
And the Cuccinelli session will make it almost impossible to convince voters that he’s not qualified for the Top Cop part of the AG’s role.
I expect that Shannon will heat the campaign up quickly, trying to move the dialogue away from Cuccinelli’s very successful “political stunt.”
In Case You Had Any Doubts…
Steve Shannon still won’t debate me… we have one (1) debate scheduled at this point, but not until October 22nd in Richmond. It is my view that we need to get to each of the parts of Virginia for a debate, as people don’t pay attention to the AG race unless it’s in their backyard. So, if Steve actually wants the people around Virginia to hear and contrast our positions (ha!), then he’d have to join me in debates around Virginia.
For reasons I’ve explained in previous Compasses, he just isn’t going to do that. It’s clear that they have already decided that letting their candidate out to debate is not a winning proposition. They actually want FEWER people, not more, to have the opportunity to compare and contrast the two candidates for AG.
While we’re ahead in the polls, our opponent’s strategy is clearly to hunker down and try to beat us with negative ads in October. He can only do this if we don’t catch up to him in the money race. So, I need to ask you to donate today, as this is our area of greatest need. So, please, help us make up our only shortcoming with our opponent, his fundraising lead.
See you on the campaign trail! And please don’t forget to donate today!
Senator Ken Cuccinelli II