Paul Jacob

In fact, longtime Democratic political consultant David Sanders, who worked for U.S. Senator Mark Warner and former U.S. Senator Jim Webb, has gone so far as to endorse Republican Cuccinelli, calling former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe a “corporatist” — and a particularly ethically challenged one at that. “I see a guy who’s got rich because of his political contacts, and I think that’s wrong,” Sanders told the Washington Post.

One wonders how Terry McAuliffe could possibly get elected?

Which brings us back to Mr. Cuccinelli.

That same Hampton University survey found that voters see “Cooch” (Cuccinelli’s nickname) even more negatively than they see Mr. McAuliffe, with 33 percent giving Cuccinelli a favorable rating, and 47 percent holding an unfavorable view.

Part of Cooch’s problem is that the Democrats defined him as an enemy of the female half of the population many months ago and the GOP campaign has still only feebly responded.

But there is much more to the Cuccinelli collapse in Virginia. In response to the ad slamming McAuliffe for profiting off the dying, McAuliffe approved a TV spot charging, “It’s Ken Cuccinelli who should worry us. His office is being investigated by the Inspector General for helping rip-off Virginia landowners and now Cuccinelli has been interviewed by the FBI in the Star Scientific scandal.”

The Star Scientific scandal involves Jonnie R. Williams, Sr., the CEO of Star Scientific, which has business before state government. Williams has in recent years lavished gifts and loans of more than $100,000 on current Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his family, bestowing another $18,000 in gifts to Cuccinelli, including “a $1,500 catered Thanksgiving dinner, private jet trips and vacation lodgings.”

Originally, Cuccinelli said he would not repay the gifts, and then, finally, paid $18,000 to a charity. Cooch is simply not operating from the moral high ground.

It’s sad that the two choices on the Virginia ballot are unacceptable.

It is even sadder that our election process is designed to trick us into thinking we only have two choices.

There is a third alternative on the Commonwealth’s Nov. 5th ballot: Robert Sarvis, the Libertarian Party candidate.

In a never ending loop of 30-second knife-slashings of his two opponents by his two opponents, the underfunded Sarvis joked, “I like to say I have a $20 million budget, but I outsourced the attack ads to the other candidates.”

The 37-year-old Sarvis is sharp, well educated — with an undergraduate degree from Harvard and advanced degrees from New York University (law) and George Mason University (economics) — and can boast of real-world experience in business to boot.

With less than $100,000 to spend, the Sarvis campaign has only run one television advertisement, and that aired during a gubernatorial debate from which he was excluded. And yet, Sarvis is still polling around 10 percent.

The Sarvis appeal is the combination of his libertarian view of government and a helping of common sense. Sarvis’s slogan is “Virginia is open-minded and open for business”; he’s also talked up universally popular reforms like term limits and voter initiative and referendum — ideas about which the other two candidates take care never to breathe a word.

Citizens in Charge recently sent the three candidates an Initiative & Referendum Pledge, which reads: “If elected as Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, I solemnly pledge to do my utmost in supporting an amendment to Virginia’s constitution to give voters a statewide process of Initiative and Referendum. I will actively campaign urging legislators to propose such an amendment and asking voters to pass it at the ballot box.”

Neither Terry McAuliffe nor Ken Cuccinelli responded to Citizens in Charge’s request that the august candidates sign the pledge, nor did they accept the invitation to make a statement concerning the right of Virginians to vote on issues when large numbers of citizens care enough to sign a petition. Both, in essence, have their gang of folks who will run Virginia; by their lights, we voters need not butt our noses in.

Robert Sarvis signed the Initiative & Referendum Pledge and, in doing so, offered the comment, “I have a lot more faith in the people of Virginia than in politicians. Initiative and referendum would enable voters to decide on many needed reforms to our government.”

Virginia politics is sick, so sick that the next governor is going to be a loudmouth huckster, a fellow who put the crony in crony-capitalist.

But Virginians can take some comfort: at the very least, they can send a message with a vote for Sarvis. May it not be utterly in vain that he put 17,000 miles on his van in the cause of putting an end to crony politics and crony economics, and for the right of the people to have a say.     [references]

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.