Ken Cuccinelli struck a more positive tone than the constant sniping that has dominated this year’s campaign for governor as the candidate met with the Republican Club at Greenspring Village Tuesday morning.
The Springfield retirement community prides itself on having the highest percentage turnout of any precinct in the state and is a popular campaign destination.
Cuccinelli dedicated a large chunk of his remarks to introducing himself to the audience, although he has visited Greenspring several times as attorney general, trying to draw a contrast with the highly partisan, staunch social conservative he says he is portrayed as in the media.
He talked about his personal background, marrying his high school sweetheart and raising seven children together. He told a story about his grandfather scraping by during the Depression as a bare-knuckle boxer.
He highlighted his early community service and his decision to run for the state Senate, on the way to one of his few jabs at Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe, a businessman and longtime Democratic Party leader who has never held elected office.
“My opposition in this race hasn’t done anything in Virginia,” Cuccinelli said, aside from living in the state with his family.
Cuccinelli presented highlights of his energy plan, which involves reducing regulations and taxes on the industry and would support the continued use of coal, something that is of prime importance to voters in southwestern Virginia.
“[Coal] is about people. It is about a way of life,” he said. “These are folks that don’t have any other option.”
He would continue to fight federal environmental regulations and remove government subsidies for cleaner energy sources, which he says would reduce energy prices and bolster the state’s economy.
“I want my seven kids to grow up in a clean environment, but I also want them to be able to get a job,” he said.
Cuccinelli also highlighted areas of his record that would typically be considered more moderate, such as his work with Democrats to improve mental health services in Virginia when he was in the state Senate.
He also talked about the importance of exonerating people who were wrongly convicted and of improving the state’s prison system to reduce recidivism.
“95 percent of the people in our prison systems are coming out,” he said. “We want them coming out better not worse.”