You have to feel at least a little bad for him. Ken Cuccinelli really did think he was going to win a home in the Virginia governor’s mansion last fall. But now the former state attorney general has been relegated to the annals of history as an also-ran, a candidate too conservative for the increasingly progressive state he lived in. But Cuccinelli has carved a rather comfortable position for himself within the band of ultra-conservative Republicans who have no voice in the party establishment. Cuccinelli is now lending a helping hand to other also-rans.
In mid-June it was announced that Cuccinelli would be taking over the Senate Conservatives Fund as the organization’s new president. Founded in conjunction with the rise of the Tea Party in 2008, the group works to help fund right-wind, small-government Tea Party candidates, even in races to unseat establishment Republicans.
The irony in this of course being that if Cuccinelli had been a bit more mainstream in his conservative approach, he probably would be the Governor of Virginia right now instead of Terry McAuliffe. But instead, Cuccinelli remains hopeful in the conservative cause and is spending his days helping other Tea Party champions at least make it through the primaries, with rather embarrassing results.
Case in point being Cuccinelli and the SCF’s backing of Tea Party candidate Chris McDaniel’s attempt to unseat incumbent Republican Senator Thad Cochran in Mississippi. Aside from just pumping money into McDaniel’s campaign coffers, Cuccinelli also kindly offered to send out poll watchers on election day to make sure Democrats – and by that we mean blacks – didn’t try to illegally vote for Cochran in the Republican primary.
“The laws in Mississippi are unusually open to poll watching from the outside,” Cuccinelli told The New York Times about his really terrible plan to send a bunch of white conservatives to stand outside the polls in predominately African-American districts. “We’re going to take full advantage of that and we’re going to lay eyes on Cochran’s effort to bring Democrats in.”
As the Washington Post writes, Cuccinelli is about “as subtle as a pair of hot pants in a nunnery,” a fact demonstrated by his letter to supporters following McDaniel’s loss, demanding revenge on the Republican establishment. Cuccinelli wrote, “the NRSC spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and sent nearly their entire staff to Mississippi to turn out liberal Democrats to beat conservatives. Then they expect conservatives to forget what happened and continue to send them money after they stabbed us in the back. They expect us to clap like seals when they say they’re working to elect a Republican Majority when we know they won’t fight for our principles. It has to stop. We can’t continue to be the party’s useful idiots.”
And this is more than just talk. The SCF has set up an Election Challenge Fund that as of Tuesday has raised $91,500 to help McDaniel’s campaign launch a formal election complaint. A number of legal scholars however, are in agreement that there isn’t enough proof to accuse Cochran of voter fraud, which makes Cuccinelli’s move look more like a bitter also-ran looking for a win than a legitimate political maneuver.