NYT: Republican Cuccinelli Is Controversial in Virginia Gov. Race, but Not Ex-Clintonite Terry McAuliffe?

In G.O.P.'s Ideological Split Appears in Virginia Governor's Race," New York Times reporter Trip Gabriel saw a controversial candidate on one side of the Virginia governor's race -- Republican candidate Kenneth Cuccinelli, Virginia's attorney general, who has support in the Tea Party and social conservative wings of the party.

His likely Democratic opponent? Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and controversial fundraiser for the Clinton administration. But judging by the paper's lack of coverage so far, only Republicans have a problem. Gabriel doesn't even mention Democrat McAuliffe until paragraph 12, and in an odd omission, calls him only "a businessman and former political operative."

As Republicans debate ways to appeal to voters whom their positions have pushed away, some Republican leaders in Virginia are warning that the party is poised to repeat the mistakes of last November, choosing a nominee for governor who turns off younger, female and nonwhite voters.

Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II, the presumed nominee, is a combative conservative who calls the Obama administration “the biggest set of lawbreakers in America” as he seeks to lead an increasingly purple state that twice voted for Mr. Obama.

“I don’t think as a whole the Republican Party in Virginia is moving in the right direction,” said Ken Stolle, the Republican sheriff of Virginia Beach. “I think we’re limiting our appeal and that’s why we’re losing elections.”

Mr. Cuccinelli, as attorney general, sued the federal government over the 2010 health care law, questioned global warming and authorized the state police to check the citizenship of anyone they stop.

At a closed-door meeting of Republican business leaders in Washington on Friday, two prominent Virginia executives confronted Mr. Cuccinelli for being too ideological to win in 2013, in what will likely be the highest-profile election nationally this year.

Cuccinelli is expected to run against Democrat Terry McAuliffe, who Gabriel benignly described as "a businessman and former political operative." In fact, McAuliffe is a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and controversial fundraiser for Bill Clinton.

Polling shows a dead heat between Mr. Cuccinelli and his presumed Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, a businessman and former political operative, with both getting 38 percent of registered voters in a Quinnipiac University survey last week. (A three-way race including Mr. Bolling showed him pulling more support from the Republican than the Democrat.)

Whether Mr. Cuccinelli is too conservative for Virginia voters remains a question: 30 percent of voters hold a favorable view of him, 25 percent unfavorable. But nearly half of voters said they still did not know enough about him to form an opinion.

The McAuliffe campaign has seized on that gap in knowledge to paint Mr. Cuccinelli as an enemy of women’s health and bipartisanship, and so far Mr. Cuccinelli, to the frustration of some in his party, has done little to address issues of jobs and the economy that might appeal to independents.

Presumably McAuliffe, as a candidate, is also due some searching coverage (he also ran for Virginia governor in 2009 but lost in the Democratic primary). There's plenty to look at, such as McAuliffe spreading the lie in 2004 that George W. Bush was AWOL from the Texas National Guard, and his involvement in the shady campaign financing during the Clinton administration. But so far the Times has ignored his candidacy.