Terry McAuliffe’s campaign for Virginia governor is rolling out a series of endorsements from Republican donors and business figures, as the Democrat seeks to make the case that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II, the GOP nominee, is alienating members of his own party.
Milt Peterson, a major Washington-area real estate developer, and Jan Schar, the former president of the Virginia Federation of Republican Women, are the latest local figures to announce their public support for McAuliffe. On Monday, the Democrat’s campaign revealed that homebuilder Dwight Schar and Northern Virginia businessman Earle Williams were also backing his bid.
Campaigns put out endorsements on a near-constant basis to illustrate their wide range of support. Cuccinelli has been endorsed by Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) and some deep-pocketed outside groups, like the antiabortion Susan B. Anthony List, and he will likely announce more backers in the future.
But the latest McAuliffe endorsements are unusual in that they come from people who have supported and donated to Republicans in the past. (Peterson and Williams have given to candidates from both parties, but both have contributed more to the GOP.)
Some of them have not had kind words for Cuccinelli.
“Virginia does not desire candidates who are so completely disconnected from the average Virginian that they are unable to leave their ideology and political views at the front door of their elected office,” Jan Schar said in a statement issued by the McAuliffe campaign. (She had already criticized Cuccinelli in a conference call last week arranged by the McAuliffe campaign.)
Dwight Schar -- Jan Schar’s ex-husband and a major donor to McDonnell as well as the last several Republican presidential nominees – was even harsher in his own statement Monday.
“Ken Cuccinelli’s ideological agenda has divided Virginians and blocked progress on education and transportation for long enough,” Dwight Schar said. “Cuccinelli’s focus on extreme social issues will distract from urgent economic matters and make Virginia less welcoming to business.”
All four endorsers hail from Northern Virginia -- Dwight Schar is registered to vote in Florida, but he is chairman of Reston-based NVR Inc. -- and McAuliffe allies contend that Cuccinelli has turned off some members of the region’s business community with his stances on social issues as well as his criticism of McDonnell’s landmark transportation funding package this year.
Though no prominent Democrats have endorsed Cuccinelli, the Republican’s campaign said McAuliffe was attempting to deflect attention from lackluster support within his own party.
“Since it’s become clear Democrats are unhappy with Terry McAuliffe’s campaign, it’s not surprising he is scrambling to find support anywhere he can,” said Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix. “While McAuliffe is trying to roll out endorsements to distract from the fact he won’t release his tax returns or answer any questions about his failed leadership at GreenTech and Franklin Pellets, Ken Cuccinelli has been traveling Virginia, discussing his policies to grow the economy. Cuccinelli’s plan to lower taxes, create more jobs, and lessen the burden on middle-class families is one that people of both parties support.”