In Virginia, obviously, the big election night news was the state again going for President Obama and the Senate victory of Tim Kaine over George Allen. Otherwise, the status quo prevails with the reelections of Reps. James P. Moran, Gerald E. Connolly, Frank R. Wolf and Eric Cantor, among others.
One ongoing race wasn’t even on the ballot, however, that of governor for next year. Tuesday night’s result might hold tea leaves for that contest.
Firebrand conservative Kenneth Cuccinelli, now attorney general, is running, upsetting the state Republican establishment that badly wants mild-mannered and reliable Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling as its gubernatorial candidate.
Cuccinelli, who has gained national attention for his strong positions against climate change, homosexuals and abortion, had been riding the Tea Party wave of distrust and resentment of government and mainstream politicians.
Those sentiments were very much in evidence in the 2010 congressional races but somehow wasn’t much of a factor Tuesday night. Nary a rattlesnake flag nor a tri-cornered hat seemed in evidence in last-minute campaign events.
Catching the shift, Cuccinelli appears to have toned down his profile from that of in-your-face social conservative to reasonable attorney general. One example: Cuccinelli starred in a somber, straight-forward advertisement pushing the ballot’s Question 1 constitutional amendment that would put more restrictions on the state’s ability to use eminent domain to condemn private property. The issue may be dull as dishwater, but it passed.
Perhaps it is too soon the write off the influence of the Tea Party movement. But for now, it is ebbing, and it is having an impact on Cuccinelli, who seems to be tacking neatly with the changing winds.