The Old Dominion’s gubernatorial candidates expressed widely differing views of the federal government on Thursday as they spoke separately at George Mason University’s Arlington, Va., campus at an energy forum sponsored by the nonprofit Consumer Energy Alliance.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a businessman and longtime fund-raiser for the Clinton family, said, “sequestration at the end of September is likely to be renewed for another year,” affecting millions in defense dollars on which Virginia’s economy depends. “The first year they cut the low-hanging fruit, but in the second year, they’ll be cutting tree limbs,” he said.
He promised as governor to be a great ambassador to the federal government. “If a proposal adversely affects one single Virginia job, then we need to protect it,” McAuliffe said. Like any governor, he added, “I’d like Virginia to get more than its fair share.”
Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the Virginia attorney general, blasted “federal overregulation” that “seeks to put coal plants out of business.” Dramatizing the importance of coal industry jobs to Virginia’s working-class citizens in the state’s southwest, Cuccinelli jabbed McAuliffe, who lives in the Washington suburb of McLean, by comparing the impact of federal regulations from Environmental Protection Agency “bureaucrats” to “outlawing federal contractors in Northern Virginia.”
Accusing his opponent of being a Johnny-come-lately to Virginia’s push to allow more offshore oil exploration, Cuccinelli cited his “track record in fighting Washington.” The federal government “knows the oil and gas is out there, the industry is ready with the infrastructure, but the government stands in the way.” Sometimes, he added, “I’m not sure the federal government hasn’t lost the memo that says states have a role in energy regulation.”