Ken Cuccinelli II’s campaign likes to portray Terry McAuliffe as a Syracuse native whose outsize political ambition drove him to eye gubernatorial races in Florida and New York before he decided to run in Virginia.
“Unlike McAuliffe,” the Republican’s spokeswoman said at one point, “Cuccinelli is a product of Virginia.” Cuccinelli has hammered the same theme, saying his Democratic opponent “ didn’t show any interest in Virginia until he wanted to run for governor.”
In a contentious campaign five months before the election, Republicans are questioning McAuliffe’s connection to the state even as seismic demographic shifts have made defining an authentic Virginian a near-herculean task.
If the transient bureaucrat has replaced the tobacco farmer as the face of the commonwealth, the state’s gubernatorial race has become a test of whether Republicans can effectively cast McAuliffe as “an undocumented Virginian,” as state political analyst Robert Holsworth puts it.
Over the past century, the percentage of native-born residents has dropped at a faster pace in Virginia than anywhere else in the country. Today, a little less than half of Virginian’s population was born in the Old Dominion.
“A case could be made that an authentic Virginian these days is someone born outside of Virginia,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington. “Different parts of the state would have different ideas about what is authentic.”
From where I am sitting, I think both of them are carpet-baggers. I can trace my Virginia ancesters back, by family name even, to the late 1600′s. I can go back 7 or 8 generations in Albemarle County alone. So can thousands of other Virginians. Those old ancestors also would say I had turned Yankee, I am sure, for spending my life in Northern Virginia. It’s all relative. Then I have the other side of the family that no one knows much about. (whispered voice: they ARE Yankees) My father was a Jersey boy who came to UVA back in the 30′s and worked his way through the University playing 3 sports per year. (sort of like Cuccinelli came from NJ)
My husband is a Yankee who was born in Massachusetts and raised in Maryland. He came to Virginia as a young adult. No one is prouder of his Virginia ‘heritage’ than he is. He probably wouldn’t like it that I just called him a Yankee. Many years ago I gave him a set of cocktail napkins that said the following:
To be a Virginian either by Birth, Marriage, Adoption, or even on one’s Mother’s side, is an Introduction to any State in the Union, a Passport to any Foreign Country, and a Benediction from Above.”—Anonymous
Back to our governor wanna-bes–Cuccinelli was born in New Jersey. I fail to see how he is a product of Virginia. McAuliffe was born in New York. Cuccinelli graduated from high school in Washington, D.C. McAuliffe graduated in NY. Both have lived in the state of Virginia over 20 years. The question now becomes, who cares. Both have legal residency.
The question should be, which candidate best represents the majority of Virginians. The answer has yet to be determined. Both need to stick to telling us what they will do for Virginia. I have seen what Cuccinelli would do for Virginia and I did not like it. I still don’t like it. McAuliffe has to be a better choice.