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Virginia Notebook: Names To Keep in Mind For AG

Tim Craig

The positioning for lieutenant governor and attorney general is just beginning in advance of the 2009 statewide election.

Here are some of the people mentioned by pundits as possible candidates for attorney general. Look for a similar discussion of possible candidates for lieutenant governor in the coming weeks.

The positioning for lieutenant governor and attorney general is just beginning in advance of the 2009 statewide election.

Here are some of the people mentioned by pundits as possible candidates for attorney general. Look for a similar discussion of possible candidates for lieutenant governor in the coming weeks.


Del. Robert B. Bell (Charlottesville) -- Elected in 2001, Bell is a pragmatic conservative who represents parts of Charlottesville. Many say "Boy Scout" when they think of Bell, and for good reason: He is an assistant Scoutmaster. Bell, a lawyer and University of Virginia graduate, is taking the lead on changing the state's mental health system. The former prosecutor has a reputation for using his seat on the Courts of Justice Committee to push for laws to crack down on crime, but some activists say he goes too far in wanting to lock people up. As of Dec. 31, Bell had raised $300,000, giving him an early advantage in money.

Sen. Ken Cuccinelli II (Fairfax) -- After narrowly winning reelection last year, Cuccinelli is the last GOP senator whose district is solely in Northern Virginia. Cuccinelli, first elected in 2002, has a reputation for being one of the most conservative members of the Senate. His strong opposition to abortion rights and to efforts to restrict the sale of guns often put him at odds with his increasingly Democratic-leaning district. Cuccinelli, who often clashes with GOP moderates in the Senate, has built a statewide network of followers. He is respected by advocates for his efforts to push for more state funding for mental health. Cuccinelli has about $74,000 after spending about $1.2 million on his reelection campaign, but he has proved in past races that he can raise a lot of money fairly quickly from small-dollar contributors.

Del. Terry G. Kilgore (Scott) -- Kilgore is the conservative brother of former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore (R), who ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2005. Terry Kilgore, elected in 1993, is folksy and personable, which could help his chances. If he were to run, Kilgore's name recognition could give him a boost in the primary. Kilgore, who represents far southwest Virginia, would have to step up his fundraising, with just $28,000 at the end of December. Because he is chairman of the Commerce and Labor Committee, he should quickly be able to raise a lot of money. He could also rely on his brother's network of donors.

Sen. Ryan T. McDougle (Hanover) -- McDougle, a former delegate, was elected to the Senate in 2005. He is considered a young rising star in the party. In the Senate, McDougle has a conservative voting record, but he has a reputation for being able to reach out to and work with moderates. If he ran, McDougle could have a key advantage by being the only candidate from the Richmond area, where as much as a quarter of the electorate in a GOP primary lives. McDougle reports having about $40,000, but he invested heavily in senators' campaigns last fall. His wife, Bea, is a lobbyist who used to be a professional fundraiser for the Republican Party of Virginia.

Sen. Mark D. Obenshain (Harrisonburg) -- Obenshain, a conservative from the Shenandoah Valley, was elected to the Senate in 2003. The Obenshain name is well-known to many Virginia Republicans. His father, the late Richard D. Obenshain, was one of the architects of the modern-day GOP in Virginia. Mark Obenshain followed in his father's footsteps and became active in local GOP politics. In the Senate, Obenshain often teams with Cuccinelli and other conservatives to battle moderate GOP leaders behind the scenes on social and economic issues. Although he has only $48,000 in the bank, Obenshain's name recognition and his deep ties to the Republican-leaning Shenandoah Valley could make him formidable in the primary.


Del. Stephen C. Shannon (Fairfax) -- Shannon, a former assistant commonwealth's attorney for Fairfax County, was elected to the House in 2003. Shannon has developed a reputation for being a moderate who focuses on consumer protection and child safety issues. Before Shannon was elected, he and his wife co-founded the Metropolitan Washington Amber Alert system in 2001, according to his campaign Web site. As of Dec. 31, Shannon reported having $202,000, second only to Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria), a probable candidate for governor. Shannon donated thousands of dollars to House Democratic candidates and committees last year, which could help him broaden his statewide network of supporters.

Jody M. Wagner-- Wagner is finance secretary for Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) and was state treasurer in his predecessor's administration. She was a lawyer in Norfolk and an unsuccessful candidate for U.S. House in 2000. Well liked by Democrats in Hampton Roads, Wagner is frequently mentioned as a possible challenger to U.S. Rep. Thelma Drake (R). But there is speculation that Wagner has her eye on a statewide office.

Two other Democrats can't be ruled out. Moran, a former prosecutor, says he is running for governor. Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath), who is also running for governor, was an unsuccessful candidate for attorney general in 2005. If party leaders try to orchestrate a deal to avoid a nasty nomination battle for governor, could they entice Moran or Deeds to run for attorney general instead?

By Tim Craig  |  January 31, 2008; 10:25 AM ET
Categories:  Tim Craig , Virginia Notebook  
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Next: Kaine Talks About 2010 Job Prospects


Bell has also been spreading his money around this past HOD cycle. I think he's clearly positioning himself for a statewide bid. Bell has 300K in his Piedmont Leadership PAC, making it the third richest PAC in VA today (trailing only McDonnell and Bolling) Plust another 70K cash on hand in his HOD account (where Bell begins to be outstripped by some other statewide contenders- all vying for Governor though).

This entire cycle, however, seems to be months behind the previous one. Will any LG or AG candidate be ready to go to district conventions coming up in a few months besides Jay "I blame everyone for my loss but me" O'Brien?

Posted by: Hector | February 1, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

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