Virginia is one of if not the state most impacted by a Federal Government shutdown. 800 thousand federal workers are being furloughed and many of them live and work in the Commonwealth.
So it is not a surprise that both campaigns for governor are leveraging the drama in D.C. to curry votes with the more than 100 thousand frustrated Virginians directly impacted by Congressional bickering.
It is the former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe delivering the most blows. He points to his opponent, GOP Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli's connection to the Tea Party wing of the republican party. The most visible member of the fight in Washington is Texas freshman Sen. Ted Cruz who will appear with Cuccinelli this weekend at the conservative Family Foundation's annual fundraiser.
Cuccinelli has spoke positively about Cruz in the past and has avoided publicly criticizing his tactics in this situation, but has said numerous times that the battle over Obamacare should be separate from the budget showdown.
“I am very disappointed that President Obama and both parties in Congress proved unable to work together to prevent an unacceptable outcome for Virginia; a shutdown of the federal government," Cuccinelli said in a statement shortly after midnight.
Cuccinelli has attempted to deflect the attacks from McAuliffe by turning it back on him by pointing to statements McAuliffe has made on the campaign trail that suggested if he were elected governor of Virginia, he would hold out until lawmakers in Richmond passed a Medicaid expansion package.
"I will not sign a budget in Virginia unless it includes the Medicaid expansion," McAuliffe said in an interview with the pro-expansion AARP. The GOP has also sent around video of the candidate making similar comments at an event in Springfield.
The McAuliffe campaign has said that he was talking tough on the budget- not advocating a full shutdown if he doesn't get his way.
Cuccinelli, who is often critical of McAuliffe's knowledge of the governing process believes his opponent's statements speak for themselves.
"The reality is, he’s the only candidate in this race who has repeatedly called for a shutdown of Virginia’s government when he said he would not sign a state budget that did not include the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion," Cuccinelli said.
But McAuliffe is not the only candidate to advocate for a budget standoff to fight for something he deemed important. In video obtained by NBC12, it was Cuccinelli a then State Senator in 2006, who wished that his legislative colleagues had pushed Gov. Mark Warner further to avoid a landmark tax increase passed in 2004.
Speaking to the bi-partisan Sorensen Institute, Cuccinelli suggested that he was willing to push past the Virginia budget deadline in order to keep the tax increase from being implemented.
"If we learned anything from '95 (the Federal Government shutdown) it's that the ones who shutdown the government are the ones who are not going to do well in the public eye," Cuccinelli said. "They (Virginia Democrats) were the ones threatening to shut the government down. In my view, of course in my view we shouldn't have chickened out."
The Warner tax increase was indeed controversial at the time. But it was passed with bi-partisan support and was one of the decisions pointed to when Virginia was dubbed one of the "best governed states" during Warner's administration.
Two years later- Cuccinelli still thought Republicans should've stood their ground.
"I'd have taken them right to the brink. I'd have gone right over the brink," Cuccinelli said. "That is one of the things they like about me in the Senate."
The video can be seen below:
In the video Cuccinelli mentions a specific plan he proposed to avoid a shutdown that his collegues rejected. His campaign points out he proposed a similar alternative during a 2006 budget showdown.
His spokesperson Ana Nix responded with the following statement.
"There is only one candidate in the race for Virginia who has taken positions that shut down government and it's Terry McAuliffe. Throughout this campaign, McAuliffe has stated he will not sign a Virginia budget without increased Medicaid funding which would lead to a shutdown of state government in Richmond. Just a few days ago, he announced his support for those on Capitol Hill who refuse to negotiate to prevent the federal government shutdown in Washington, D.C. And now, having lost all credibility on the issue, his campaign is desperately attacking the Attorney General who despite operating with a decreased General Fund budget has returned money to the Commonwealth each year.
Going further, in 2006, when Democrats in the state legislature were threatening a government shutdown, Ken Cuccinelli proposed legislation to avert the situation, voiced support for the process moving forward and voted for the budget. Simply stated, Ken Cuccinelli has fought to keep government working for Virginians, while Terry McAuliffe has supported positions that would shut down government and hurt working families." - Anna Nix