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Shannon accuses Cuccinelli of 'states' rights' stance

Anita Kumar

Stephen C. Shannon, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, accused Republican rival Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II today of planning to fight the federal government in a way reminiscent of the state's opposition to civil rights legislation in the past.

At a debate in Richmond, Shannon said Virginians who opposed federal law supported slavery, shut down schools instead of integrating them, prevented inter-racial marriage and sterilized the mentally retarded.

"Our history in Virginia of states' rights is not a flattering picture,'' Shannon said. "When he's talking about states' rights, you have to understand the mistakes we have made in the past."

Cuccinelli called Shannon a "race baiter" and later told reporters that his opponent took his allegations too far.

"That is truly desperate and over the line,'' he said. "He was just literally trying to throw a grenade in and, frankly, it's terribly inappropriate."

Cuccinelli, a self-described conservative, supports limited government and sometimes wears a pin with the revolutionary era saying "Don't Tread on Me," an image seen at this year's "tea party" protests. He said he has never claimed to be a "states' rights attorney general" or someone who would sue the federal government.

Shannon and Cuccinelli, both legislators from Fairfax County, met for their fourth and final debate Thursday. The one-hour long appearance took a negative tone from the start with both men lodging attack after attack in front of nearly 300 lawyers.

U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudsonm who moderated the debate for the Richmond Bar Association, asked Shannon and Cuccinelli about their priorities, legislative records and suggested changes to the attorney general's office. No matter the question, the two returned to their standard attacks.

Shannon accused Cuccinelli of being a "cultural crusader" with a "personal political agenda" who would only enforce those laws he agreed with. Cuccinelli accused Shannon of being a "back bencher" in the General Assembly.

Cuccinelli said Shannon failed to understand the legal ramifications of a U.S. Supreme Court decision this year that required live testimony to introduce scientific reports in criminal trials -- and jeopardized thousands of DUI and drug cases. Cuccinelli immediately called for a special legislative session to revise state law, but Shannon said that was "political stunt" and would be to costly. Ultimately, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) called a special session.

Shannon said Cuccinelli was not standing up against the "stain of corruption" brought by Del. Phil Hamilton (R-Newport News), who is under federal investigation for negotiating a job offer with Old Dominion University before securing state money for the school. Cuccinelli is the only statewide candidate of either party that has not called for Hamilton's resignation.

Shannon called himself a pro-business law-and-order centrist who, unlike his opponent, will work across party lines. "He is not a bipartisan legislator,'' Shannon said. "He fights with members of his own party."

Cuccinelli relished the description of himself. "It is true in the past that I have fought with people in my own party whenever they are wrong and I fought with Democrats too,'' he said. "And I think the people of Virginia ought to get a fighter for attorney general."

The attorney general manages an office of about 200 lawyers who provide legal advice to the state agencies, field consumer complaints and defends the state in lawsuits and criminal appeals.

By Anita Kumar  |  October 22, 2009; 6:44 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Attorney General's Race , Anita Kumar , Election 2009 , Ken Cuccinelli , Steve Shannon  
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Cuccinelli is really saying, "I'm shocked, completely shocked that just because I want to enforce only my ideological laws and set the clock back in today's Virginia, does not necessarily mean that I will..."

I'm calling bunk on Mr. Cuccinelli. All the tea bagger parties and far-right wing followers to his own rallies have done nothing but invoke extreme conservative views of our society, the laws we live in, and the anger over a black President.

Someone had to say it, and the media and bloggers sure has heck have not done their due diligence on how truly awful it would be to have Cuccinelli in office, and how truly awful it would show this nation on what Virginia has become (if such an extreme nutjob makes it into the AG office).

Good for Shannon. Show the voters who this Cuccinelli really is, and who all of his rabid, ideological followers really are.

Posted by: HumbleGovWorker | October 22, 2009 6:59 PM | Report abuse

Whatever limitations the WaPo finds with Cuccinelli, Shannon deserves to be called out for her completely looney, outrageous, and divisive comments. Has she never heard of the 10th Amendment?
She's way the heck out - far out - in waaaay left, left field on this one, and it smacks of total desperation.
No state, and certainly not the Commonwealth of Virginia, needs a whack job like this as AG.

And the WaPo actually endorsed this race-baiting kook?

Posted by: parkbench | October 22, 2009 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Wow, both of you are way off the reservation. The tenth amendment to the constitution is all about the individual states taking the time to fight the Feds on laws. We are not subordinate to DC!

And parkbench...Stephen Shannon is a guy....

It is simple as that....


Posted by: digitalslcker | October 22, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Cooch wasn't my choice at the convention. But I'm relatively happy to have him coming into the office. What changed my mind? An out of control, constitution--ignoring, Chicago-styled mob at the helm of the Federal Government.
Cooch believes in the 10th Amendment, and understands why the line has to be drawn. He also understands that it's just one more balance and check given by our forefathers. If you look at 2010, there is more balance and checks coming.
Before stating what you THINK it means, read the Amendment.

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Posted by: Bulletproof | October 22, 2009 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Well put sir!


Posted by: digitalslcker | October 22, 2009 10:43 PM | Report abuse

Cooch doesn't "believe in the 10th amendment"! We all "believe" in our Constitution, the question is whether we will dutifully and faithfully execute lawful conscription with those laws under the Constitution. Of course Steve Shannon will enforce our laws even if he disagrees with them--that's what our Attorney General is SWORN to do!

Cuccinelli is saying that HE will be the legislator, executive, AND the judicial.

Cuccinelli is a dangerous rogue who will not be fighting for justice under the LAW, rather justice that HE likes. Sorry, that's not your role, bub.

We are going to have to keep a very, very vigilant and watchful eye if, God help us, Ken Cuccinelli becomes our Attorney General!

Posted by: DouginMountVernon | October 23, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

Yes states can challenge law of the US under the 10th amendment, but that does NOT mean that the state's Attorney General of Virginia does not have an obligation to enfore them!

Posted by: DouginMountVernon | October 23, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

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