Dave "Mudcat" Saunders, a veteran smash-mouth Democratic strategist, says he is supporting Republican Ken Cuccinelli for governor, branding Democrat Terry McAuliffe a "corporatist."Yeah, I've heard of Saunders -- the nickname is memorable, and I know that his schtick impresses a lot of people:
"What these corporatists have done to us in rural America and in urban America ..." Saunders said in a telephone interview. "I can't support a corporatist. I just can't. This guy is not my kind of Democrat."
... Saunders, from the mountains outside Roanoke, is a colorful operative who has urged his party to make a play for the increasingly Republican rural vote....
Along the way, Saunders ... became a sought-after source for reporters covering the battle for the hearts and minds of so-called "NASCAR dads" -- the label pundits have attached to white, culturally conservative men who typically vote Republican in national elections....Of course, in the last two presidential elections, America elected a black guy from Chicago via Honolulu who was widely perceived as a gun-grabber and who, in the last election, was unabashedly pro-choice and pro-gay, all while Saunders's guy from 2004, John Edwards, went down in flames in '08 after losing in '04.
Saunders told them all that a Democratic presidential candidate can appeal to those voters if they show respect for gun rights and avoid letting social issues define their campaigns. If Democrats can "get through the culture," they then can get rural voters to listen to their ideas about the economy, jobs and health care, Saunders argued.
Look, I understand opposing McAuliffe. But if you're a good Democrat, stay neutral -- don't endorse an extremist like Cuccinelli. It isn't just the extreme right-wing views on abortion, gay rights, and other social issues that are the problem. It isn't just Cuccinelli's vendetta against a climate scientist. It's the notion that Cuccinelli is somehow less of a corporatist:
The gubernatorial campaign of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) raised 40 percent of its more than $1 million haul from donors giving $10,000 or more, according to a campaign finance report filed on Tuesday. These large donations came from a collection of corporations, wealthy individuals and political action committees....Oh, and here's an ALEC-posted video of Cuccinelli boasting about his anti-Obamacare campaign:
One contribution of note is the $50,000 given by Intrust Wealth Management, one of many corporations under the control of the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers. The company is a subsidiary of Intrust Bank, headed by Charles Koch. This is the second Koch contribution to Cuccinelli, who received $10,000 from Koch Industries in the first half of 2012.
Cuccinelli appeared as a featured speaker at more than one Koch-sponsored event in recent years.
In 2011, the attorney general flew to Vail, Colo., to speak at a Koch seminar titled, "Understanding and Addressing Threats to American Enterprise and Prosperity." ...
In 2012, Cuccinelli was enlisted as a speaker at a major fundraising event for the Kochs in Palm Springs, Calif....
I do agree with Saunders that Democrats ought to learn how to talk to heartland whites. But my attitude is: don't bend over backwards to try to pretend you're a Bubba deep down inside. Instead, lead with economics at the human, kitchen-table level -- and then actually live up to your rhetoric by fighting for the little guy. That might impress Bubba more than waving around a gun.