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Decision Virginia Archive 8/08- 7/12

Shannon benefits from groups splitting endorsements

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It may not be at the point where it can be described as an outright trend, but there is certainly a pattern of Democratic Attorney General candidate Del. Steve Shannon, benefiting from advocacy groups splitting their endorsements among parties in his favor.

In general, most endorsement announcements from major advocacy groups are rarely a surprise. Pro-business groups generally get behind Republicans, pro-labor groups behind Democrats and so on and so on.  From time to time, these groups will surprise people by braking ranks, like for instance when the National Rifle Association supported Creigh Deeds in 2005 in the race for Attorney General.

However in 2009, a number of groups that can be objectively described as “pro-business” have decided to support Bob McDonnell for Governor, and then Steve Shannon for Attorney General. McDonnell has heavily touted his support from the business community and used many of these endorsements as an example of that success. In a recent release announcing the support of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, McDonnell said the endorsement was noteworthy because “This campaign is about who is best prepared to lead an economic resurgence in Virginia in the years ahead as our next governor.”

Generally these organizations who focus on the economy don’t focus as much on the race for Attorney General, but the Shannon campaign has made an aggressive push to garner that support, particularly with organizations in Northern Virginia. The results have paid off as these groups have stuck with the top of the GOP ticket, but then have reached out to give Shannon their support instead of Sen. Ken Cuccinelli.

Here are at least 5 examples where endorsements have gone to McDonnell and Shannon:
Virginia Realtors Association
Associated Builders & Contractors
Northern Virginia Technology Council
Fairfax Chamber of Commerce
Virginia Credit Union League

In addition to these 5 endorsements, Shannon also seemed to at least be in the running for the support of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, before they ultimately endorsed Cuccinelli several weeks after they endorsed in the race for Governor and Lt. Governor.  The NFIB eventually said that Cuccinelli had their “whole-hearted” support.

Cuccinelli’s campaign disagrees that there is any sort of trend and pointed to the Senator’s lengthy list of endorsements from a wide variety of groups including the NRA, The Farm Bureau and the very important nod, (especially in an Attorney General’s race) of The Fraternal Order of Police. Furthermore, Cuccinelli’s campaign claims that Shannon is working hard to play up these endorsements as a way to hide his major support from big union interests.  Shannon does have the support of the SEIU and the AFL-CIO and has received around $150,000 in donations from union based groups.

While this at first, this seems like good news for Shannon, it does come with a caveat for Democrats. If he is the only Democrat receiving that support it could mean one of two things. 1- These groups don’t support policies that democratic voters agree with but do support him or 2-If he is the only Democrat earning this support, that means the top of the ticket has problems.

It is worth noting that when touting these endorsements Shannon comes very close to tying himself to the Republican nominee for Governor.  In the press release touting the Northern Virginia Technology Council endorsement  the Shannon campaign pointed out that “The NVTC endorsement comes just two days after the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce’s NOVABizPAC announced its formal support of Shannon’s candidacy. Both groups offered endorsements to members of both parties this year, endorsing Shannon alongside Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell.”

How do Democrats feel about Steve Shannon being lauded “alongside” the current Republican standard bearer?

Shannon and Cuccinelli of course continue to fight for headlines in a hot governor’s race, but tomorrow will meet in a high profile debate on WTOP radio. The debate starts at 10am and will be streamed live on WTOP’s web site. You can listen here.

Written by Ryan Nobles

October 1, 2009 at 9:50 pm

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