- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Former Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II said Wednesday that Sen. Marco Rubio attracted “government Republican voters” in Virginia who might otherwise have opted for former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush.

“The truth of the matter is in my humble opinion, being from Virginia, is that Jeb Bush getting out turned loose a lot of what I’ll call government Republican voters,” Mr. Cuccinelli said Wednesday on Fox Business Network. “A lot of people in Northern Virginia, the Bush network, and they’ve all been associated with government for a long time. Well, they naturally went to Rubio, the establishment candidate that’s in the race.”

Mr. Rubio finished a close second to GOP presidential front-runner Donald Trump in the state, winning about 32 percent of the vote to Mr. Trump’s 35 percent. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was well back at about 17 percent.

But Mr. Cuccinelli, a Cruz supporter, said they weren’t hurt that badly because of the proportional distribution of the delegate count in the state, pointing out that Mr. Rubio was completely shut out in states like Texas, which Mr. Cruz won, and Alabama, which Mr. Trump won.

Mr. Cuccinelli said if Mr. Cruz got out of the race at this point, about half or more of his support would go to Mr. Trump.

“He competes with Donald Trump for those individuals — no other candidate competes to keep them in the Republican fold,” Mr. Cuccinelli said. “If Marco Rubio gets out, the vast majority of those votes come to Ted Cruz, not Donald Trump, and so that changes the race dramatically.”

“That is not in Ted’s control, but winning last night in three states, including a romping win in Texas, which is a huge delegate vote haul, has brought him well out in front of the rest of the pack, albeit in second to Donald Trump,” he said.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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