Show off your holiday lights and you could win an iPad! Enter your photo by December 13. Winner will be selected by popular vote.
Each candidate questioned the other’s business connections and reliability.
Republican Ken Cuccinelli debates Democrat Terry McAuliffe at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs on Saturday.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe debates Republican Ken Cuccinelli at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs on Saturday.
Republican Ken Cuccinelli (left) and Democrat Terry McAuliffe hold their first debate Saturday the debate at the Omni Homestead Resort in Hot Springs. The two drew sharp divisions over approaches to governing and social issues.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
HOT SPRINGS — Business connections as much as policy dominated the first gubernatorial debate on Saturday.
Republican Ken Cuccinelli said Democrat Terry McAuliffe was more interested in keeping his union backers happy and showed he cared little about Virginia when he let an electric car company he helped run locate in Mississippi instead of Martinsville.
McAuliffe said he had a fiduciary responsibility to the company’s stockholders — and quickly continued to say Cuccinelli had a similar responsibility to Virginia taxpayers that meant he was wrong to accept gifts from Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie Williams even as the company was battling a $1.7 million state tax bill.
Cuccinelli said his office had pursued the case as it was supposed to, and that he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit when he accepted the gifts or when he invested in the company’s stock. He has since sold his shares.
The debate was heated, and personal.
“One of the things I think Virginians have a right to demand is some commitment to Virginia prior to running for governor,” Cuccinelli said.
He said his own volunteer work with abuse victims, the homeless and people with mental illness had shaped his public life.
McAuliffe said Cuccinelli’s opposition to Gov. Bob McDonnell’s transportation funding package this year showed he put ideology ahead of real needs.
“My opponent opposed that bill each and every step, he opposed it for ideological reasons,” McAuliffe said. “On education, work force development and budget and taxes, do you want mainstream compromise or ideology?”
McAuliffe said Williams’ thousands of dollars of gifts to Cuccinelli and McDonnell showed the need for an ethics commission and to limit the value of gifts to elected officials. Cuccinelli said that while he had forgotten to disclose some gifts, he corrected his filings on his own. He said his release of eight years of tax returns, which McAuliffe has not done, showed his commitment to transparency.
Each also challenged the other’s attitude to the public.
“Terry had a choice, and he knew how desperate the people of Martinsville were and he picked Terry first” when after suggesting in 2009 that he might build an electric car plant in the city, the company opened its first plant in Mississippi, Cuccinelli said.
McAuliffe looked back to Cuccinelli’s 2002 state Senate campaign to make a similar point.
“He said, and then made a joke about it, that he misled voters. … It is a consistent pattern,” McAuliffe said. “When he ran for attorney general, he said he was about job creation, but for the last four years we’ve seen a social ideological agenda.”
Each candidate said his top priority was job creation. Each said the other’s politics would get in the way.
“He’s going to take your tax dollars and I’m going to let you keep them,” Cuccinelli said.
“I don’t want to spend my time fighting the federal government, and Ken likes to do that,” McAuliffe said. “I want to work with the government to help bring jobs,” he added, noting that defense spending is a major motor of the state economy.
Each criticized the other’s tax and budget proposals as vague.
McAuliffe said savings the state could realize from a federally financed expansion of Medicaid could be used to boost education spending and said Cuccinelli’s proposed income tax cuts were irresponsible.
But Cuccinelli said his approach was careful and thought-out.
“If I don’t succeed in reining in government growth, and if I don’t succeed in closing loopholes, we don’t get a tax cut,” Cuccinelli said.
He said Medicaid needed significant reforms before it could be expanded, while adding 400,000 uninsured Virginians to Medicaid’s rolls would be more than the state’s doctors and health care providers could manage.
On social issues such as gay marriage and abortion, McAuliffe said Cuccinelli’s actions as attorney general had upset business and risked discouraging high tech firms from coming to Virginia.
“I believe in marriage equality,” McAuliffe said. “There are consequences to mean-spirited hatefulness.”
“There are millions of Virginians who share my sincerely held views” on marriage and abortion, Cuccinelli said. “Your notion that this chases business out of Virginia is offensive.”
But Cuccinelli said he would not look to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court rulings that allow abortion if elected governor. He also said he would not try to overturn last year’s transportation compromise, but would work to make sure spending was efficient.
“Your choice on transportation is between union Terry or frugal Ken,” he said.
Asked if McDonnell should resign because of the tens of thousands of dollars of gifts from Williams to his family that he did not disclose, both candidates said state and federal investigations needed to run their course.
The 90-minute debate at The Homestead resort was sponsored by the Virginia Bar Association, and several hundred people attended. The campaigns are still discussing terms for other debates.
Weather JournalWarmth next 2 days hits icy wall