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Peter’s Take: Should Va. Elect a Science Denier As Governor?

Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column published on Tuesdays. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Peter RousselotVirginia’s Republican Attorney General, Ken Cuccinelli, wants to be elected Governor of Virginia this year. So does his Democratic opponent, Northern Virginia businessman Terry McAuliffe.

This year’s campaign for Governor presents starkly different visions of the direction Virginia should take. There will be many opportunities to debate which vision makes more sense. And, there is still a chance that a third major candidate — Virginia’s current Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling — might jump in the race.

But only one of these candidates for Governor — Cuccinelli — has a track record of denying the conclusions of the scientific community.

To advance his cause as a climate science denier, Cuccinelli went so far as to sue the University of Virginia — our flagship university. Although Cuccinelli’s lawsuit was thrown out as frivolous by Virginia’s highest court, it had chilling reverberations within the scientific research community.

Regardless of what you think of Cuccinelli’s positions on any other issue, he should be disqualified from further consideration as Virginia’s Governor because of his record as a science denier. Why?

This is only a sampling of public policy issues facing Virginia’s next Governor:

  • Uranium mining
  • Rising tides
  • Offshore drilling
  • Transit technology choices
  • Tax incentives for green technologies

What to do about each of these issues depends on an understanding and respect for scientific findings.

How can we entrust the future direction of a state with a population of over 8,000,000 people to someone who has demonstrated that he is willing to brush aside settled scientific findings as easily as if they were mosquitoes swarming around his head?

In his first Inaugural Address, President Eisenhower — leader of a Republican Party which championed very different values. He said this about the role of the scientific community: “Love of liberty means the guarding of every resource that makes freedom possible — from the sanctity of our families and the wealth of our soil to the genius of our scientists.”

President Eisenhower would have had little respect for a science denier like Ken Cuccinelli. Ike learned the hard way that you place a nation at risk when you disregard science just because it seems politically convenient.

That’s why Virginia should not put its future on the line by choosing Ken Cuccinelli as its next leader.

Peter Rousselot is a member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.

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