Less than a month ago, Terry McAuliffe was riding high in the Virginia gubernatorial race. He had a lead outside the margin of error in the Quinnipiac poll. Ken Cuccinelli was still being dragged down by his connections to Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams. Cuccinelli couldn’t seem to find his footing or a message. Things were looking bright for McAuliffe to make the transition from bagman to prince.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Terry’s coronation: He began to unravel. Cuccinelli unveiled the best campaign ad of 2013. It has been winning over focus groups and has helped him establish a campaign narrative. Independents, the key group in any Virginia election, are turning sour on McAuliffe.

Then Cuccinelli did what he should have done months earlier — he cut a check for the equivalent amount of the gifts he received from Williams. Cuccinelli took a press hit for it — which was always going to be the case — but the story seems to have died owing to lack of voter interest.

That hurts McAuliffe. A lot. The ads he was running on Cuccinelli and Williams were the most effective his campaign had produced. Now, the central theme of those ads is gone.

[Continue reading Norman Leahy’s post at Bearing Drift.]

Norman Leahy blogs at Bearing Drift. The Local Blog Network is a group of bloggers from around the D.C. region who have agreed to make regular contributions to All Opinions Are Local.