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Posted at 11:46 AM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Cuccinelli political operation plans major Va. Senate effort

By Washington Post Editors

Gov. Bob Mc­Don­nell (R) has been open about his plans to use his political action committee, Opportunity Virginia, to try to help the GOP take control of the Virginia Senate in November.

But he's not the only one. Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) likewise plans an aggressive and independent effort through his political operation to play a role in November.

According to Cuccinelli political director Noah Wall, Cuccinelli has a busy schedule of fundraising appearances scheduled for Republican candidates in coming months.

Wall said Cuccinelli has no plans to assist any challengers to incumbent Republicans -- a stance that might disappoint activists with Virginia's tea party groups, who plan to make taking down senators they perceive as RINOs a top priority. (Tea Party political action committee treasurer Karen Miner Hurd told us last week that the groups plan to focus so intently on challenging moderate Republicans that they may "not be very available to take out Democrats.")

But Cuccinelli has been clear that he will wade into contested Republican primaries in areas now represented by Democrats. He has taken special interest, for instance, in the Republican primary for a Senate seat in Loudoun now held by Mark Herring (D).

The exact boundaries of the district remain in question because of redistricting, but a tough fight appears to be shaping up for the Republican nomination, in a field likely to include at least former Del. Dick Black and former Senate candidate Patricia Phillips.

Wall said Cuccinelli, who has already endorsed Black, will hold a March 24 Ashburn fundraiser for the conservative delegate who was ousted from the House in 2005. During seven years in the House, Black was known as one of the General Assembly's most conservative voices, opposing adoption by gay couples and famously handing out plastic fetuses to fellow lawmakers on the eve of major abortion-related votes.

"They have a relationship going back to Ken's first race, when Dick Black was one of Ken's earliest supporters," Wall said. "They worked together in the legislature for a number of years. Ken really thinks Dick Black would be a wonderful addition to the state Senate."

But Cuccinelli's involvement won't stop at endorsements and fundraisers. He is also planning a curriculum for a series of seminars for volunteers interested in getting involved in Senate races. The goal is to make people who have not been involved in politics more effective campaigners.

"The goal is to help train grass-roots activists about how to most effectively help candidates in their state Senate district," Wall said.

And won't that corps of trained volunteers come in handy to Cuccinelli too, as he looks to his own political future? Wall didn't deny it.

Cuccinelli has said he plans to run for reelection as attorney general in 2013, but hasn't ruled out running for other offices.

"That is something we're always working on, expanding our network of supporters and volunteers," he said. "If we're able to help elect conservatives in the state Senate, that's a goal of ours. But it will also help build our network and help increase support for Ken as we go forward."

By Washington Post Editors  | March 7, 2011; 11:46 AM ET
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