Amid fierce partisan debates over how, when and in which districts Virginians can vote, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II is working to assemble a rare bipartisan coalition to decide who gets on the ballot. Cuccinelli, the likely Republican nominee in this year’s gubernatorial race against presumptive Democratic choice Terry McAuliffe, has become one of the more polarizing figures in commonwealth politics. Beloved by conservative activists and disliked by many Democrats, Cuccinelli is not often known as a consensus-builder. Yet Cuccinelli said he is hoping he can get lawmakers to set aside ongoing squabbles over redistricting and electoral college legislation to change Virginia’s laws for ballot access, the subject of wide criticism in recent elections. The critics have included former Virginia Democratic Party chairman Paul Goldman, who has teamed up with Cuccinelli for the effort.
“I tend to think from my time in the Senate that bills like this come across and there’s a certain amount of relief to be able to agree on things,” Cuccinelli said in an interview with The Washington Post, predicting his plan will be welcomed by “an overwhelming majority” of lawmakers.
But the atmosphere in Richmond is particularly tense since Senate Republicans made a surprise attempt last week to redraw the Senate district map in their favor. A Senate committee advanced a bill to change the way Virginia apportions its electoral votes, giving sway to Republicans (though that measure now appears likely to fail).
Republicans also have sought to tighten the state’s voter ID laws, while Democrats have mostly been stymied in their efforts to expand absentee voting and address long lines at polling places.