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The Right Note: First Gubernatorial Debate

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

Mark KellyIt seems pretty clear after the first clash between Ken Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe that the election for governor in Virginia will be decided by one simple question – who do you trust?

Cuccinelli says that McAuliffe cannot be trusted because his record as a partisan hack means he believes politics is nothing more than playing “let’s make a deal.” Cuccinelli argues McAuliffe’s theory of government puts special interests ahead of the interests of all Virginians.

McAuliffe says that Cuccinelli is a “trojan horse” who cannot be trusted to focus on jobs and the economy because he is too socially conservative. According to T-Mac, Cuccinelli would drive away potential investors in the Virginia economy with his backwards views.

So, it naturally follows to ask why McAuliffe made the decision to locate his car company in Mississippi instead of Virginia? Surely Mississippi is more progressive on social issues?

Mississippi has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage just like Virginia. Mississippi has implemented stronger health care regulations on its abortion clinics just like Virginia. In fact, one could argue that Mississippi is equal to or more “socially conservative” than Virginia on each and every issue.

During the debate, McAuliffe was indeed asked why he decided to put GreenTech Automotive in Mississippi. His answer – it was an economic decision. Successful business leaders, he claims, must make business decisions that make sense for their bottom lines. Not only is it true, but McAuliffe has no choice but to say it. It is his only viable, if feeble for someone who wants to be governor of Virginia, line of defense for his decision.

It is always nice when candidates debunk their own lines of attack. McAuliffe succinctly explained it – businesses make business decisions. It is not a state’s stance on social issues which determines where a business will locate its jobs. If it were, Texas would be losing out to California instead of the other way around. And, McAuliffe almost certainly would have taken his business to Massachusetts or Maryland.

Unfortunately, just because McAuliffe contradicted himself, does not mean his campaign will stop using this line of attack. The same goes for the less-than-accurate claims McAuliffe made about his own involvement in the transportation plan and about the contents of the independent report on Cuccinelli’s gift disclosures. He firmly believes that if you repeat something long enough, people might just accept it as fact. It comes from years of cooking up political spin to get Democrats elected in Washington, DC.

The bottom line: if McAuliffe was trying to get away from the “fast-talking, deal making, political huckster who will say anything to get elected” tag in the first debate, he failed.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

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