Cuccinelli to air first TV ad of Va. race

April 26, 2013

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II plans to launch the first television ad of the Virginia governor’s race with a spot set to start airing statewide Monday.

The 30-second commercial features Teiro Cuccinelli, wife of the presumptive Republican nominee, talking from the family kitchen about her husband of 21 years. Also shown walking hand-in-hand with Cuccinelli and surrounded by their seven children, she discusses his work with the homeless and the mentally ill and his efforts to combat sexual predators.

“My husband, Ken, has spent his life standing up for the vulnerable and those in need,” Teiro Cuccinelli says as soft music plays in the background. “He’s worked the night shift at a homeless shelter, spent his college days leading efforts to prevent sexual assaults, and represented those suffering from mental illness.

“As attorney general, Ken fought to find and prosecute child predators and human traffickers. Virginia deserves a governor who is experienced, principled, and honest. I think you’ll find that’s what Ken Cuccinelli is all about.”

The ad seems aimed at painting a softer portrait of Cuccinelli, who is known nationally for battling a University of Virginia climate scientist as well as Obamacare and other examples of what he calls “federal overreach.” He has been a favorite of religious and fiscal conservatives for his opposition to abortion and higher taxes.

Cuccinelli has hardly backed away from those positions since the start of his campaign against former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe to succeed term-limited Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R).

But his campaign has sought to stress that there is more to Cuccinelli than the hot-button issues that have earned him the most headlines.

“There’s always a rush to define oneself first,” said Cuccinelli strategist Chris LaCivita. “And as it relates to the ad, this tells a side of Ken that a lot of people don’t know, and a lot of our friends in the press haven’t told.”

LaCivita declined to disclose the amount being spent to air the ad or to specify how long it will air, but said it was “a substantial buy.” It will run on broadcast and cable channels in the Washington, Norfolk, Roanoke and Richmond markets.

Brian Coy, spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia, said the ad presented an inaccurate view of Cuccinelli.

“Ken Cuccinelli’s attempts to paper over his extreme record won’t distract Virginians from his attacks on women’s health, his radical politicization of his taxpayer-funded office or his shady conflict of interest with Star Scientific,” Coy said via e-mail. “Just this week, Cuccinelli’s real agenda as Attorney General was clear as his effort to shut down women’s health clinics in the Commonwealth began to take effect.”

Coy was referring to the attorney general’s role in implementing strict, hospital-style building standards on abortion clinics. The Democratic spokesman also referred to Cuccinelli’s ties to a Virginia businessman, Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. , who has a tax lawsuit against the commonwealth and a connection to a criminal embezzlement case against the former chef at the governor’s mansion.

Cuccinelli, whose office has recently sought to recuse itself from both cases, has received nearly $13,000 in personal gifts from Williams and also owned stock in his company. Cuccinelli initially failed to disclose his stock holdings but corrected what he said was an oversight in 2012, before recent media scrutiny of the company, which is the subject of a federal securities investigation and two shareholder lawsuits. Williams also has drawn attention for picking up the $15,000 catering tab at the wedding of Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s daughter, a fact that recent court filings suggest the chef intends to raise as part of his defense.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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