I’ve been tough on Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli for ideological rigidity and, at least so far, a shapeless and content-less campaign. But he deserves praise by doing something all Republicans (and Democrats, frankly) should have done a long time ago: Go on the pledge wagon.

That’s right. Not a sip from the chalice of any single-interest group. No promises except to the voters and wives and to uphold the law. (Regular readers will recall I’ve been on this kick for about two years.)


Politico reports: “Cuccinelli’s campaign confirmed he will not sign the ATR pledge and explained Cuccinelli has settled on a blanket no-pledge policy for the campaign: he will not … make any similar commitments to other special interest groups.”

Bravo! As a rock-ribbed fiscal conservative, Cuccinelli says he won’t raise taxes, and whatever you think of the merits of that idea, few would think he’s not entirely sincere.

Moreover, his blanket pledge is one step in unshackling himself from a host of groups that would like nothing better than to commit him to one pledge after another, some in excruciating detail. He has figured out that once you start with the pledges there is no end to them. Moreover, the pledges make a candidate look like a puppet on a string.

Now if a staunch conservative like Cuccinelli can rebuff the entreaties of special-interest groups that want candidates to tie their hands on every issue (and push candidates farther and farther out of the mainstream) then so can every other Republican. It would be a major step in diminishing the reign of special-interest extremists and promoting some ideological creativity for Republicans in 2014 and 2016 to go Cuccinelli — that is, campaign pledge-less.

And if the candidate doesn’t do what he promised the voters? Well, just like a candidate who breaks a written pledge, the voters can throw him out, elect legislators of an opposite party, protest, hold town meetings — the list is endless.

The jury is still out as to whether Cuccinelli can present an attractive mainstream agenda and not scare off independents and moderates, but this is a promising sign. Others should follow his lead.