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Cuccinelli and Shannon Go At It -- Again

Amy Gardner

It wasn't a James Brown concert but it sorta felt like one when supporters of state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee for Virginia attorney general, filed into tonight's candidate debate in Prince William County draped in yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags.

Again proving that Cuccinelli-Shannon is the most dramatic down-ballot matchup of 2009, the two candidates were not shy about attacking one another on a range of issues.

Cuccinelli criticized Shannon for not supporting a special session last summer to address a Supreme Court decision that could have caused thousands of drunk-driving cases to be thrown out. Shannon criticized Cuccinelli for not demanding the resignation of Republican Del. Phil Hamilton, the embattled Newport News Republican who is under investigation for accepting a part-time job from Old Dominion University while securing the school a $500,000 state appropriation.

Cuccinelli criticized Shannon for having a "100 percent" pro-union voting record and for accepting money and endorsements from labor organizations. Shannon reminded the audience that he, and not Cuccinelli, has gotten the majority of pro-business endorsements this year.

Shannon: "All things being equal, Republicans should be getting the business endorsements, but Ken's not getting very many."

Cuccinelli: "He can have the pro-tax endorsements. I'll take the small-business owners who want government off their backs and out of their way."

They talked about guns, immigration and taxes. And they talked about whether Cuccinelli, an unabashed conservative who calls himself a strict constructionist when it comes to the constitution, plans to enforce state laws that he doesn't agree with. Shannon said he doesn't. Cuccinelli said he does.

The best moment was probably when Cuccinelli asked Shannon to name all the divisions in the attorney general's office. Shannon said he'd get to that in a second but first wanted to address Cuccinelli's previous remarks about a state tax increase in 2004.

Cuccinelli leaped to his feet, turned to moderator Scott Thuman of WJLA-TV, and said:
"Mr. Moderator, in court I'd object to a witness not answering the question."

Oh well, it wasn't court. Shannon didn't answer the question.

By Amy Gardner  |  October 7, 2009; 9:33 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race , Amy Gardner , Election 2009 , Ken Cuccinelli , Steve Shannon  
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