RICHMOND — Republicans Ken Cuccinelli II and E.W. Jackson this weekend disputed the notion that their respective campaigns for governor and lieutenant governor are not working together.
Cuccinelli, the sitting attorney general, and Jackson, a Chesapeake minister, sounded a message of unity and cooperation at a breakfast event Saturday near Roanoke. State Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Harrisonburg), who is running for attorney general, also attended.
“Would you please greet a man who I have the utmost faith in and honor for,” Jackson said as he introduced Cuccinelli, according to audio posted on YouTube. “We are friends. We are working together. Don’t believe the rumors. We’re working together.”
Cuccinelli told the audience,“It’s great to be here with the whole ticket. As E.W. said, we’re running together. We’re running hard.”
Their comments came as some political observers have seen Cuccinelli’s campaign shifting gears in response to polls that show him trailing Democrat Terry McAuliffe. After keeping the outspoken Jackson at a distance and stressing economic themes meant to attract independent voters, Cuccinelli is moving to shore up his conservative tea party base, the observers say.
Cooperation between the campaigns also would represent a change for Jackson, who shocked the Republican establishment by winning the nomination over six better-funded, better-known rivals in a party convention in May. Some GOP strategists recently voiced concern that Jackson was shunning strategic and practical help from the party, perhaps out of fear that it would pressure him to tone down his message.
After the event, Cuccinelli tweeted photos of himself, Jackson and Obenshain.
“@KenCuccinelli: Had a great time in Salem this morning at the GOP Breakfast with the Republican ticket!” he tweeted.