The Washington Post

Cuccinelli called by Republican presidential hopefuls

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (Steve Helber)

If you guessed Rep. Michele Bachmann, you’d be right.

Same with former Pennsylvania senator. Rick Santorum and former House speaker Newt Gingrich.

Cuccinelli (R), who has become popular in tea party circles, would help any of them burnish their conservative credentials.

He said in an interview that he does not know whether he will endorse in the presidential race, but that he will at least wait until after Virginia’s legislative elections in November to decide.

“My expectation for the period of time is we’ll just wait,’’ he said. “Not to say we won’t get in, but we’re going to wait for a little while.”

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) supports former Massachusettes governor Mitt Romney and will serve as his Virginia chairman for the second election in a row. Gov. Bob McDonnell, the newly named head of the Republican Governors Association, said he may sit out the race, but hasn’t made up his mind.

Former governor and senator George Allen, who is running for Senate next year, said he won’t endorse in the presidential race. House Speaker Bill Howell, who supported former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee in 2008, has said an endorsement is not a priority right now.

Cuccinelli also said he would wait to decide whether to endorse in the crowded Republican primary for U.S. senate in 2012. All the declared candidates — Allen, Jamie Radtke, Earl Jackson, Tim Donner and David McCormick — have spoken or met with Cuccinelli in recent weeks.

Bolling (R) and House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford) have endorsed Allen. McDonnell (R) is widely expected to follow suit.

Cuccinelli, who volunteered for Allen in 1993, was complimentary of his term as governor, but did not indicate whether he would endorse him.

In the meantime, Cuccinelli said he will concentrate on helping Republicans take control of the state Senate, where he served before being elected attorney general in 2009.

“The whole tenor of the legislation and the budgeting that comes out of [the senate] is just radically different than the last time the Dems had the Senate,’’ he said. “It’s just totally different world. It’s completely run by liberals now.”

He has already endorsed Tom Garrett, a prosecutor running in a five-way primary, for the new senate district west of Richmond. He has headlines or will headline campaign events for Bryce Reeves, who is taking on Sen. Ed Houck (D-Spotslvania), Patricia Phillips, running against Sen. Mark Herring (D-Leesberg), Gerarda Culipher, who will challenge Sen. Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax), Caren Merrick, running to replace the retiring Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington) and Del. Bill Carico, running to replace the retiring Sen. William Wampler (R-Bristol).

“We’re going to help people as much as we,’’ he said. “Where we can do anything reasonably we’re going to help out as much as we can. We’re challenging across the commononwealth. The Dems are going to play some serious defense.”


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