The five Republican hopefuls for U.S. Senate in Virginia may want to stop waiting for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) to endorse one of them.
Candidates in both races have asked Cuccinelli for his endorsement. They are looking to burnish their conservative credentials by securing the backing of the a figure popular in national tea party circles.
“I'm certainly not ruling out weighing into either of them,’’ he said. “I don’t have plans to do that at this time.”
All five Republican U.S. Senate candidates — former governor and senator George Allen, tea party activist Jamie Radtke, Bishop Earl Jackson, businessman Tim Donner and lawyer David McCormick — have spoken or met with Cuccinelli.
Allen already has been endorsed by many of the state’s other top Republicans, including Gov. Bob McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and House Speaker Bill Howell (Stafford), even though the June 12 senate primary is more than six months away.
“It’s still a long way out, but I don’t have any plans to do anything with that race at the moment,’’ Cuccinelli said. “But I don’t rule it out. I don’t get into every race. I don’t feel obliged to get into every race.”
Cuccinelli said he had previously met with or talked to most of the presidential hopefuls (Virginia’s presidential primary is on Super Tuesday, March 6). But said he got to know them better preparing to be a questioner in last Saturday’s presidential forum, when Cuccinelli joined fellow Republican attorneys general Scott Pruitt of Oklahoma and Pam Bondi of Florida at a FOX News forum in New York City hosted by former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
“It was very educational and very enlightening and not always favorable,’’ Cuccinelli said.
Cuccinelli said he is personally closest to former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum (“a good man”). Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney campaigned with him in 2009 (“a very nice guy). About Rep. Ron Paul, he said, “I don’t necessarily think he comes across publicly very well, but personally I like him.”
He also said has spoken to Texas Gov. Rick Perry and spent some time with Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.). He acknowledged that some of Newt Gingrich’s supporters thought he was tougher on the former House speaker at the forum than he was on the other candidates.
“I’m certainly still engaged in the presidential process,’’ he said. “I believe that election is the most important that will happen in my lifetime, and Virginia's a swing state. I’m committed to playing as useful and a constructive role as I can.”
Bolling (R) supports former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and will serve as his Virginia chairman for the second election in a row. McDonnell, the chairman of the Republican Governors Association, said he may sit out the race, but hasn’t made up his mind.
Regardless of whether he endorses in the primary, Cuccinelli said, he plans to campaign with his party’s nominees next year because “the election is too important’’ not to.