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All of the Republican candidates touched on tea party themes in their acceptance speeches.
State Sen. Mark Obenshain gestures during his acceptance speech for the Republican nomination for Attorney General at the Virginia Republican convention in Richmond, Va. on Saturday.
Associated Press photo
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli waves to the crowd accompanied on the stage by his wife, Tiero, center; son, Jack, 5; and daughter Ali, 17, after his nomination as the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia at the Virginia Republican convention in Richmond.
Republican convention delegates cheer as Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli speaks after his nomination as the Republican candidate for governor. Cuccinelli told the crowd he was committed to protecting the liberties of the unborn.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli speaks after his nomination as the Republican candidate for governor of Virginia at the Virginia Republican convention in Richmond on Saturday.
Associated Press | File May
E.W. Jackson said that if Ken Cuccinelli could have more than one term as governor, he’d back ending the tax as well.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
RICHMOND — Ken Cuccinelli stands atop a Virginia Republican Party in which tea party conservatives now have considerable heft.
The attorney general, beloved by activists for fighting what they perceive as a heavy-handed federal government, formally accepted his party’s nomination for governor Saturday.
That outcome was a foregone conclusion because Cuccinelli had no GOP challenger.
It took longer to determine his down-ballot ticket mates.
Attorney general nominee Mark Obenshain, a state senator from Harrisonburg who Cuccinelli endorsed before the convention’s first ballot, was nominated after the first round of voting in the afternoon.
GOP activists tapped a black faith leader, Chesapeake’s E.W. Jackson, as their lieutenant governor nominee, a symbolic choice for a party some say lacks diversity.
Jackson, a Marine veteran and trained attorney, surged late in the seven-way race after a slow start for a campaign that overcame initial financial woes.
What may have finally put him over the top was a rousing speech combining patriotic chords, religious notes and personal biography.
Jackson eschewed racial politics in the speech telling the roaring crowd: “I am proud to say that I am not an African-American, I am an American.”
Cuccinelli opened the day with a speech to thousands of Republicans from all corners of the state in Richmond to pick the people who will represent them on the Nov. 5 ballot.
He spoke broadly of wanting to roll back government regulations, reduce tax breaks and special interest loopholes.
Cuccinelli, 44, also pledged to achieve education reform that gives parents, such as home-schooled families like his, more control over their children’s education.
Advancing those ideals, he told the crowd, reflects his commitment to defending individual liberties and what he called the “first principles of this country” as articulated by the founding fathers.
“It also means defending those at both ends of life — protecting the elderly from abuse as well as the unborn,” said Cuccinelli, an ardent abortion foe, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Hours earlier, a few dozen abortion rights demonstrators held an anti-Cuccinelli rally outside the Richmond Coliseum hosting the convention — one woman dressed like a birth control pill dispenser.
Back inside, Cuccinelli told conventiongoers he is capable of achieving policies important to conservatives, unlike Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, whom he called more familiar with Washington’s priorities than Virginia’s.
“I’m the only one in this race who won’t need on-the-job training,” he said of McAuliffe, who is making his second bid for governor.
Cuccinelli took several swipes at McAuliffe without mentioning him by name.
He mocked McAuliffe, a Northern Virginia businessman and political fundraiser, over his conflicting explanations on why his GreenTech Automotive electric car plant went to Mississippi, not Virginia, after receiving a lucrative incentive package there.
“I have been fighting for the people of Virginia because I believe in the people of Virginia,” he said, contrasting that service with McAuliffe, who he said “dropped us like a hot brick for Mississippi moola.”
Cuccinelli also reminded the audience of his fights against what he considers an infringing federal government, such as his status as the first person to sue over the federal health care act of 2010.
That line drew loud cheers from the crowd in the cavernous arena.
He dished more red meat by referencing the scandal over revelations the Internal Revenue Service targeted for greater scrutiny tea party groups seeking tax exempt status.
Then he pivoted to another McAuliffe dig.
“Speaking of tax returns, I’ve released eight years of my full returns, yet my opponent has failed to do the same.” Cuccinelli said. “If he has nothing to hide, then why not release the same tax information I have?”
McAuliffe has released three years of tax records, but only summary forms lacking details about his investment income.
In the attorney general’s race, Obenshain got a boost Saturday when Cuccinelli endorsed his candidacy over his sole rival, Del. Rob Bell of Albemarle County.
Obenshain pledged to govern much as Cuccinelli has, a point reinforced in his acceptance speech.
Democrats will choose their nominees in a June 11 primary election.
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