Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is opening a new front against former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe in the Commonwealth's governor's race this year, seeking to tie McAuliffe to organized labor in a decidedly anti-Big Labor state.
Cuccinelli has dubbed his rival "Union Terry." He calls himself "Frugal Ken." It's becoming a governor's race between really unpopular action figures.
But Cuccinelli's campaign went one step further on Friday, saying flatly in an interview circulated by his campaign that McAuliffe of opposes Right to Work legislation, which Virginia adopted decades ago, altogether. But there's not much evidence that McAuliffe actually feels that way.
Though McAuliffe said during his 2009 campaign that he would sign collective bargaining legislation, he has since said, repeatedly, that he would not do anything to overturn the Commonwealth's right to work laws. Back in January, McAuliffe said at an event for the National Federation of Independent Business, "We are a great right-to-work state. We should never change that."
Earlier this week McAuliffe was less concrete. "I'm going to work with management. I'm going to work with labor. I'm going to work with everybody to move Virginia forward. It's not 'either-or.' We are a right-to-work state that has been here for many years, and it's not going to change," McAuliffe told the Washington Post. And, of course, McAuliffe has taken $723,730 from organized labor groups this cycle, according to data compiled by the Virginia Public Access Project.
After conservatives and editorial boards jumped on his comments to the Post this week, McAuliffe clarified his stance. "Right to work has been the law here in Virginia for 65 years, and I wouldn't change it -- plain and simple," McAuliffe told the Richmond Times-Dispatch on Thursday.
How does Cuccinelli's campaign reconcile their allegations with McAuliffe's past statements? When shown McAuliffe's quote and asked how the campaign could claim that McAuliffe opposed right to work, Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix responded that McAuliffe "has a history of supporting unions, making money off of unions, and contracting with unions in right-to-work states" -- a reference to McAuliffe's comment during another 2009 debate that he had contributed money out of his own pocket in order to hire organized laborers in non-union states. "His history speaks for itself," Nix said.