The summer of the 2013 Virginia governor’s election has been eventful, if not policy oriented. Democrat Terry McAuliffe began the summer trying to appeal to moderates in the business community, while Republican Ken Cuccinelli has focused on exciting his base with a convention. That said, the majority of June and July have been dominated by various controversies, from the SEC investigation of McAuliffe’s company Greentech to Cuccinelli’s association with Star Scientific. But perhaps the most interesting thing so far on the campaign is how each candidate is ending the summer and preparing for the homestretch.
While many strategists will say that elections are won during the summer, others will rightly note that voters only truly start to actively pay attention after Labor Day. Understanding this, both candidates have begun to discuss their plans for infrastructure and education in a moderate way. With respect to education, both candidates have attacked the S.O.L.s as one-size-fits-all tests that do not adequately measure a student’s ability, and need to be reformed. In terms of timing, Cuccinelli just released his education plan, no doubt realizing the significance of the beginning of fall. On infrastructure issues, McAuliffe has been a strong supporter of the highway bill’s passage and implementation. Cuccinelli initially opposed the bill, but now refers to it in his stump speech as a key issue where the voters must decide who to let spend the money, “Frugal Ken” or “Union Terry.” Both candidates have realized the middle ground on these issues is the safest place to be, with a large share of voters opposing S.O.L.s and supporting the transportation bill.
Whether or not policy will define the fall remains to be seen, with scandal and mud-slinging currently dominating most headlines. What is noteworthy is how both candidates have begun to focus on the center, a stark difference from the beginning of the summer. Lets see if they can stay there.