Did Ken Cuccinelli Really Win Repeatedly in a "Deep Blue," "Liberal" District?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

You've probably heard the argument for Ken Cuccinelli's electability statewide, that he's proven he can win in "deep blue," "liberal" Fairfax County. For instance, this Tea Party site claims that Cuccinelli "has been repeatedly elected in the Deep Blue county of Fairfax, Virginia." And this right wing site says Cuccinelli hails "from the very blue county of Fairfax." This conservative site argues that Cuccinelli is electable because he is "from Fairfax County, the epicenter of Virginia's liberal population." And Cuccinell himself repeatedly claims that"he keeps winning 'in the tough part of Virginia, in Northern Virginia, without sacrificing my principles.'" (Note: just yesterday, Cuccinelli said "he's won three state Senate elections in a Fairfax County district 'in the most liberal part of Virginia'") Finally, Waldo Jaquith, who is normally absolutely accurate (and astute) in his analysis of Virginia politics, claims that Cuccinelli "represented Fairfax in the General Assembly for two terms."The problem is, none of these are accurate. A few points.
1. Ken Cuccinelli did not - repeat, NOT! - represent "Fairfax County." Keep in mind that Fairfax County is Virginia's largest jurisdiction, with around 1.1 million people (1/7th of Virginia's entire population). Fairfax County is so big that it's represented by 9 state senators (in part or whole) and 17 delegates (ditto). Ken Cuccinelli was one of those 9 state senators for about 7 years, from when he was first elected in a special election in 2002, through his election as Virginia Attorney General in 2009. Again, Cuccinelli never even came close to representing all of Fairfax County, just 37 precincts out of 223 total precincts, or around 17%.
2. Cuccinelli's district, the 37th, was not - repeat, NOT! - a particularly "blue" or "liberal" district, certainly not when Cuccinelli first ran there! In fact, just a year before Cuccinelli was first elected from that district in 2002, guess who carried the 37th in the 2001 Virginia governor's race, Democrat Mark Warner or Republican Mark Earley? Nope, it wasn't the Democrat, even as Warner was winning the state by nearly 100,000 votes. Instead, Republican Mark Earley won the 37th, albeit by a small (1.2 percentage point) margin. Hmmmm.
3. In 2004, Republican Tom Davis demolished Democrat Ken Longmyer by around 26 points in the 37th State Senate district precincts of the 11th congressional district. Oh, and Republican Frank Wolf annihilated Democrat James Socas in the 37th State Senate district precincts of the 10th congressional district. Yeah, real "deep blue" and "liberal" - not!
4. As the district trended from light red to purplish, Cuccinelli's victory margin declined, from 10 points in 2002, to just 6 points in 2003, and to less than 1 point (101 votes over Janet Oleszek, who as much as I love her, would probably admit she's not the strongest political candidate in the world!) in 2007. In other words, we won't be calling him "Landslide Ken" anytime soon for his narrow wins in the "purple" 37th State Senate district.
5. Cuccinelli was replaced in the State Senate by moderate Democrat (and former Republican) Dave Marsden, a former appointee of Republican Governor Jim Gilmore. Marsden narrowly won a special election (in January 2010), 51%-49%, in this supposedly "liberal"/"blue" district. Yeah right!
In conclusion, Cuccinelli certainly never represented Fairfax, and its 1.1 million people, as a whole, but instead a small fraction (around 17%) in one of the county's most "purple," or even "red," areas. By no stretch of the imagination was the 37th State Senate district "the epicenter of Virginia's liberal population," as Cuccinelli fallaciously claims - not now, and CERTAINLY not in 2002 or 2003 when Cuccinelli was first elected. In other words, Cuccinelli's lying, and to the extent the media's also claiming that Cuccinelli won in a "very blue"/"liberal" part of Virginia, they're simply perpetuating the lie. Stop doing that!