- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 28, 2008

Virginia Sen. Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, who recently won re-election by fewer than 100 votes, has begun laying the groundwork for an attorney general bid next year.

“My wife and I are thinking about the possibility of me running for attorney general in 2009, and I would appreciate the opportunity to talk with activists in the Richmond area about 2009 and the future of the GOP,” Mr. Cuccinelli said in a “heads-up note” to supporters about an event he is hosting next week.

Responding to a question about his candidacy for attorney general, Mr. Cuccinelli told The Washington Times yesterday he has the experience to do the job and that his presence on the Republican ticket would help the party make inroads in voter-rich Northern Virginia. The region has supported Democrats by wide margins in recent elections.

“I have proven myself politically in the toughest environment in Virginia for a Republican without sacrificing my role as a conservative leader in Virginia,” Mr. Cuccinelli said. “I am well-positioned to be competitive in any nomination contest, and I will give our statewide ticket a base” in Northern Virginia.

The possible bid comes as no surprise to Republicans, who see Mr. Cuccinelli as the only conservative state senator left in the increasingly Democratic-leaning Northern Virginia.

Mr. Cuccinelli defeated Janet Oleszek in the November election by just 92 votes, despite the general sentiment that the Democrat was a weak candidate. Some Republicans and Democrats have since suggested Mr. Cuccinelli’s days are numbered in Fairfax County.

The senator disagrees with that appraisal.

“I do not see my days being numbered in Northern Virginia, as I won in the toughest environment for a Republican in a Senate election in a very long time — all without sacrificing my conservative principles.”

Mr. Cuccinelli, a member of the law firm of Cuccinelli & Day PLLC in Fairfax, joins a crowded field of Republicans interested in the job, including Sens. Mark D. Obenshain, of Harrisonburg and Ryan T. McDougle of Hanover as well as Delegates Rob Bell of Albermarle and Terry Kilgore, the identical twin brother of former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore.

“I think Terry is seriously considering it,” the former attorney general told The Times yesterday.

Asked about Mr. Cuccinelli’s potential candidacy, Mr. Kilgore said he would have to get out to “rural Virginia and make sure he can turn out the numbers in rural Virginia we need to win.”

“I just think we need to make sure we have strength in the rural areas because I think that is where the base of the party is,” he said.

Mr. Bell, like the other people mentioned for the post, said he would make a decision after the legislative session that is scheduled to end March 8.

“This is something I will take up with my wife after session and we will make a decision on how to proceed,” Mr. Bell said. “I think my experience as a state prosecutor before my election and on the State Crime Commission would help make me more effective in that role if I were lucky enough to be elected.”

The possible list of contenders has grown since former Sen. George Allen announced he had opted against a gubernatorial bid in 2009.

Several Republicans thought Mr. Allen’s candidacy would force Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell — both Republicans — to put their gubernatorial bids on hold and remain in their current jobs.

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