TechPAC’s board also acknowledged the discord caused by its endorsement.
In a statement released Monday, Dendy Young, TechPAC chairman and chief executive of McLean Capital, said: “TechPAC members are highly sensitive to the divisive nature of this particular gubernatorial campaign, and the attending underlying social issues. Cuccinelli assured TechPAC Trustees during the interview process that his administration will focus on jobs and the economy, and not on a divisive social agenda, which TechPAC believes would seriously hurt the appeal of Virginia as a place to locate and grow businesses. Cuccinelli also committed to preserving and efficiently implementing the transportation funding legislation passed by the General Assembly earlier this year.”
Kevin O’Halleran, a spokesman for Herring’s campaign, deferred comment about the TechPAC’s attorney general endorsement, saying the council is expected to issue a statement later this week.
The campaign to reverse the decision on the gubernatorial race began soon after Young called both candidates to alert them to the decision.
“It was very unpleasant,” Earle Williams, a Republican who said he is reluctantly supporting McAuliffe, said after speaking to Young about the telephone call. “But he’s tough. He can take it.”
Williams, who is a senior adviser to the NVTC, said he thought Young and the TechPAC board did the right thing by not buckling under pressure.
The fracas also pulled back a curtain on the two candidates not often seen in their campaigns. Cuccinelli, speaking of the landmark transportation plan passed by the General Assembly, told the board that although he opposed the bill, he would focus on implementing the bill. He told the group that he made sure it would pass constitutional muster even though there would have been ways to allow the measure to ultimately fail to survive a legal test.
“But you know, I could have killed it,” Cuccinelli told the group, according to a person who heard him. “There were plenty of ways I could have killed it, and I didn’t.”
McAuliffe, meanwhile, failed to impress in his interview and even shocked some members, several board members said. When someone asked how he planned to work with people to get things done in Richmond, McAuliffe replied that he would wine and dine them.
“I’m an Irish Catholic. I like to drink. It is what is. We’ll go have lunch. We’ll go have drinks. We’ll work the phones. We’ll do whatever it takes to get things done," he said, according to two NVTC officials present at the interview, including one who supports Cuccinelli and one who has not taken a position.
Some were astonished, although one of the officials said others interpreted it as McAuliffe’s way of trying to illustrate how he would work across partisan lines with anyone to cut a deal.
McAuliffe also had nice things to say about Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) during his interview, but he added that he thought McDonnell was more involved in the nitty-gritty of each piece of legislation that McAuliffe would be if he were elected.
“Terry said, ‘I am not going to read every bill when I’m governor. I’m going to hire people to read them for me.’ It was an astonishing statement,” a board member said, quoting McAuliffe from memory.
Another official also recalled those words but interpreted it as McAuliffe’s way of trying to give the members an idea of his governing style.
This is the third consecutive governor’s race in which TechPAC has endorsed the Republican candidate.
Williams, the senior adviser to the NVTC, said the endorsement by its PAC symbolizes the fissures in Virginia’s business community caused by this year’s polarizing choices.
“I’m supporting McAuliffe, but I don’t like him,” Williams, who ran against George Allen in 1993 for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said.
“Either the Northern Virginia Tech Council’s endorsement is very important, or Dick Saslaw, Janet Howell and Barbara Favola have a very low threshold for bullying people,” said state Sen. Thomas A. Garrett Jr. (R-Louisa), referring to prominent Democrats in the Virginia Senate.