Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush Face Many Rewards, Little Risk in Helping Ken Cuccinelli in Va.
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Two Florida Republicans with their eyes on the White House are keeping busy in the 2013 election cycle by helping a GOP candidate in Virginia.
Both Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush are helping out conservative Ken Cuccinelli, the state attorney general, who is the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia. Rubio hit Richmond on Monday, campaigning alongside Cuccinelli. Bush will be at a fundraiser on Tuesday hosted by longtime Republican politico Spencer Abraham who served in the U.S. Senate and in George W. Bush’s Cabinet as energy secretary.
Cuccinelli is also hobbled by trying to follow in the footsteps of scandal-plagued Bob McDonnell who moved over from attorney general to governor in 2009. McDonnell is currently facing ethics accusations and his popularity is dropping considerably, hurting fellow Republicans like Cuccinelli.
While Cuccinelli looks headed to a loss come November, there’s little risk for Rubio or Bush in supporting him. Cuccinelli is a vocal conservative, opposing Obamacare, abortion and same-sex marriage while supporting Arizona’s immigration law and battling for lower taxes. Backing Cuccinelli -- as opposed to helping out moderate Republicans facing elections in New Jersey and in the New York mayoral race in November -- shouldn’t haunt Rubio or Bush in the Republican primaries come 2016.
Other possible Republican presidential candidates are following the same game plan. Ted Cruz is expected to hit the campaign trail for Cuccinelli in early October. Rand Paul and Rick Santorum offered early endorsements of Cuccinelli, while Bobby Jindal has been loud in his accusations that Republicans aren’t doing enough to help his campaign. By campaigning with McAullife, Rubio and Bush are keeping pace with their potential competition.
But there are also other factors for Republicans looking at 2016 to be active in Virgina this year. Virginia will be a battleground once again come 2016. For the Republicans to win in 2016, they will need to pick up a few states and Virginia will have to be one of their top targets. Certainly the leading 2016 Democratic candidates are already looking at Virginia. Hillary Clinton has campaigned with McAuliffe, a longtime ally of her husband. Joe Biden and Martin O’Malley have also helped the Democratic candidate. While Virgina won’t be a major factor in the Republican presidential primaries, it will be a battleground in the general election. By campaigning for Cuccinelli, Rubio and Bush are getting a head start in what should be a crucial state in 2016.
In short, there is little to lose and plenty to gain for Rubio and Bush by helping Cuccinelli. Even if Cuccinelli loses in November, Rubio, Bush and other Republican presidential hopefuls can emerge a winner from helping him out.
Tallahassee political writer Jeff Henderson wrote this analysis piece exclusively for Sunshine State News.