It has become the most controversial topic in the 2013 Virginia General Assembly: an attempt by the Senate GOP to push through a revision to the 2012 redistricting plan. The move has been criticized not only on its merit, but also by the way Senate Republicans went about passing the plan, pushing it through while Sen. Henry Marsh (D), a noted civil rights activist, was at President Obama's inauguration.
The process has been roundly attacked by both Republicans and Democrats, both elected officials and those running for office. Governor Bob McDonnell (R) said it wasn't the way to do business. Lt. Governor Bill Bolling (R), who may still run for governor, said he cannot support the plan and every major Democratic candidate for statewide office has said they are opposed.
Among those who had decided to stay out of the fray is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who is also the presumptive Republican nominee for governor. Cuccinelli doesn't have an opinion on the merits or the process because he said he must remain impartial should the bill become law and face a legal challenge.
"I am going to be called on to defend the bill and my client sort of becomes the bill once it passes into law," Cuccinelli said during an interview Friday night.
Cuccinelli defended his position as being a responsible Attorney General, not that he was looking to avoid a political battle.
"We have a track record of doing our job agnostically of how bills become law," said Cuccinelli. "As long as it is constitutional and adheres to voting rights act, we roll forward and defend it."
Not suprisingly, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor Terry McAuliffe isn't buying that excuse.
"I strongly urge Attorney General Cuccinelli to join Governor McDonnell, Lt. Governor Bolling, and myself in speaking out against this divisive redistricting plan," McAuliffe said in a statement.
McAuliffe believes this is another example of the difficult position Cuccinelli finds himself in as both AG and candidate for Governor. Cuccinelli chose not to follow the same path as his predecessors and step down from his post once the campaign began in earnest. He has vowed to serve his entire four-year term and, despite the criticism, he remains committed to that pledge.
"I also promised the voters when I was running that I would serve for all four years," Cuccinelli told me. "The people of Virginia elected me for those four years and they are going to get the best effort I can give them for all four years."
Democrats, like McAuliffe, believe sticking to that pledge leaves voters uncertain where Cuccinelli stands on important issues that may help them make up their mind.
"At a time when we should be focusing on working together, we simply can not afford the partisan tactics that have plagued Richmond for far too long," said McAuliffe. "The divisive partisan move by the Senate has dominated an entire week and is hurting the Commonwealth's ability to focus on economic development and find mainstream solutions to make Virginia a better place for business."
Cuccinelli argues that, if anything, his conduct during this flap proves that he is capable of being a candidate and an official. He said he is treating this bill the same way he treated a prior Democratically-produced redistricting plan.
"I think I have already proven by defending to the hilt a Democratic redistricting plan that I'm just going to do what a lawyer should do and that is defend the product of the client," he said.
Whether or not voters buy that argument is a gamble Cuccinelli seems willing to take. But make no mistake, this will not be the last time the Attorney General will be put into a position where his work as the commonwealth's top lawyer may run into conflict with his role as the GOP nominee for Governor. Especially when Democrats seem poised to bring up the issue at every available opportunity.