Virginia Democrats have launched a new ad hitting Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II for his stance on the Violence Against Women Act, escalating the battle over female voters in the commonwealth’s race for governor.

The state party did not release details on the size of the ad buy. The Virginian-Pilot reported that the DPVA bought $275,000 worth of airtime after the campaign of Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe transferred $300,000 to party coffers.

“When Congress failed to renew the Violence Against Women Act, Republican and Democratic attorneys general from 47 states spoke out to protect women,” says the ad’s narrator.

“But Ken Cuccinelli refused. The Roanoke Times wrote, ‘Virginians should remember Cuccinelli’s cowardly inaction as he seeks to become the next governor.’ ... Ken Cuccinelli. He’s focused on his own agenda. Not us.”

The ad refers to a letter urging Congress to reauthorize VAWA; Cuccinelli was one of three state attorneys general in the country who did not sign it. A spokesman said at the time that the attorney general’s office had a policy of not signing letters regarding federal bills that could still change through the legislative process.

Cuccinelli has not taken a public position on the bill, which was signed into law by President Obama in March. Some conservatives opposed the measure because of language on domestic violence protections for gays and lesbians and expanded authority for Native American tribal courts.

Democrats have already been criticizing Cuccinelli for his stances on abortion and women’s health, and the latest ad opens up a new front on a subject that has long been a personal one for Cuccinelli. As an undergraduate at the University of Virginia, Cuccinelli founded a group to raise awareness about sexual assault after one of his housemates was attacked by an intruder.

“As a father of five girls, I am deeply disappointed but not the least bit surprised that Terry McAuliffe and the Democrat Party would be willing to go to such great lengths to distort the truth,” Cuccinelli said in a statement issued by his campaign. “I’ve spent my entire career standing up for the most vulnerable in our society, including women victimized by domestic abuse and sexual predators.”

Cuccinelli’s statement did not say whether he had a position on VAWA.

Before the ad went on the air, the Cuccinelli team also organized a preemptive conference call Friday with members of the campaign’s women’s coalition, who — without addressing the specifics of the ad — spoke generally about Cuccinelli’s record.

“I’m very impressed by how he’s used his office to keep women safe,” said Marcy Hernick, a professor at the Appalachian College of Pharmacy, while Fairfax County School Board member Elizabeth Schultz said Cuccinelli “has taken on causes and issues that may not have been politically advantageous for him but because he knew they were the right thing to do.”