If Virginia’s political history is any indication, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has reason to be optimistic about winning election as governor in November.
Virginia is one of only two states that choose their governors in the year following a presidential election. And in the Old Dominion’s nine contests since 1977, the nominee from the party that lost the presidency the previous year has always won.
A favorite among his party’s base, Cuccinelli may be well-positioned to become the latest Virginia Republican to benefit from disproportionately high turnout among the conservative rank-and-file in a non-presidential election.
Four years ago, Bob McDonnell defeated his Democratic opponent by a hefty 17-point margin during President Obama’s turbulent first year in office. (Virginia law bars governors from serving consecutive terms, and so McDonnell — like other incumbents before him — cannot seek immediate re-election.)
Cuccinelli’s expected path to the Republican nomination was cleared last week when Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced that he would not run for the commonwealth’s highest office, citing his party’s decision to hold a nominating convention, rather than a contested statewide primary, to determine its standard-bearer.