Election Day is 14 days away and this week the Roanoke Valley has the honor of hosting debates between the candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor. Missing from the lineup are the candidates for Attorney General because Democrat Steve Shannon refuses to debate Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the Roanoke Valley or anywhere else.
Del. Shannon knows that refusing to debate Sen. Cuccinelli is like refusing to box Muhammad Ali or race Richard Petty. He feels embarrassed ducking a challenge but he knows that embarrassment is nothing compared to what the contest's actual results would yield.
Throughout the race, Shannon has shown he is no match for Cuccinelli's sharp wit and even sharper legal mind.
When the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts threatened the successful prosecution of DUI offenders in Virginia, Sen. Cuccinelli was the first legislator to call for a special session. Shannon called Cuccinelli's special session idea a "political stunt". Fortunately, the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Governor of Virginia put politics aside and followed Ken's lead on this issue. The General Assembly went back in August and passed a legislative solution that earned Cuccinelli praise from the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Twice this campaign season, Shannon has made the mistake of agreeing to debate Cuccinelli. Such was the case at a debate in Northern Virginia when Cuccinelli asked Shannon to name all the divisions in the attorney general's office. Shannon decided to discuss his support for the massive 2004 tax increase instead of showing the audience that he didn't know what the Attorney General actually does.
Cuccinelli jumped up and said, "Mr. Moderator, in court I'd object to a witness not answering the question." Shannon never answered the question.
Since that debate, Shannon has decided to stick to the sage advice, "Its better to be quiet and thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt."
Cuccinelli has done as much to prove he is up to the job of Attorney General as Shannon has done to prove he is not. That is why Cuccinelli has been endorsed by 77 local sheriffs and commonwealth attorneys in addition to the Fraternal Order of Police. Those that have committed their life to law enforcement trust
Those of us who have had the honor of serving with Ken in the Senate will miss the wealth of legal knowledge he brings to the Senate floor and the Courts of Justice Committee. In the Senate, Cuccinelli has built a strong reputation as a protector of the Constitution, a bi-partisan leader on mental health issues, and being almost as stingy with your tax dollars as I am.
I was proud to endorse Ken for Attorney General before he even announced his candidacy because I knew he was the best choice for Virginia. This campaign has completely cemented that thought.
I hope you will join me in helping ensure that Ken is elected on November 3 so he can continue Bob McDonnell's strong leadership as Attorney General. If you know you will be unable to make it to the polls, please apply for an absentee ballot ASAP. Any time or financial contributions you could give Ken in these final two weeks would be greatly appreciated.
If you have any questions, I can be reached at my 5720 Williamson Road office in Roanoke at (540) 206-3597, this email address, or on Facebook.
Ralph K. Smith
Senate of Virginia