Ken Cuccinelli: The Next Tea Party Candidate?

More

The Washington Post profiles Virginia's headline-making attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli, whose controversial stands have made him a Tea Party hero. In his first four months in office, Cuccinelli challenged the EPA's authority to regulate greenhouse gases, told public universities that they couldn't ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and filed a suit claiming the national health care reform law was unconstitutional. 

But Cuccinelli has some surprises up his sleeve, including a long-term commitment to fighting sexual assault and a flippant disregard for Virginia's Republican establishment: 

In the halls of Richmond, the freshman senator, at 34, looked as young as some of the aides and preferred springing up the stairs to waiting for the elevator. He was a little too eager, out of step with the clubby culture of Richmond.

He had won his first race, to represent southwestern Fairfax County, in 2002, the way he always would, underfunded and underestimated. He took positions that were less nuanced and more conservative than his rivals' and summoned a cadre of true-believing volunteers.

Republican Warren Barry, who had resigned the seat Cuccinelli filled, was appalled: "The GOP picked someone whose thinking is so ancient he would be an embarrassment to Northern Virginia."

So, too, were the Republican Brahmins who ran the state senate, who thought some of his early legislative proposals embodied an anti-tax extremism that was not then acceptable in Virginia. "Everyone lamented he wasn't channeled in the right direction," says John H. Chichester, the retired GOP chairman of the finance committee.

Yet to a small but growing core of fiscal and cultural conservatives, Cuccinelli was the new hero.

Now that this core of conservatives has grown into a nationwide movement, Cuccinelli's national political prospects are worth watching.

Read the full story at the Washington Post.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Nicole Allan is a former senior editor at The Atlantic.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Social Security: The Greatest Government Policy of All Time?

It's the most effective anti-poverty program in U.S. history. So why do some people hate it?


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Politics

Just In