SECOND UPDATE: AG McDonnell & Closed Primaries
NOTE: Below is my original post, however, we have learned that any involvement from McDonnell's office is required by law. Please see the note from his office at the bottom of the post.
Many in the Virginia blogosphere have commented on Senator Cuccinelli's efforts to keep liberal activists out of GOP primaries. What I found interesting is that few are discussing the fact that Attorney General McDonnell's office seems to be actively opposing Cuccinelliâ€™s efforts. See the below from Tyler Whitley's RTD article:
But lawyers for the state said the time was not legally "ripe" for Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax, to bring suit against an open primary that will not be held until June 2007. (Emphasis mine)
Clearly the AG's office has attorneys arguing against Cuccinelli in front of the judge- using an argument that there is not sufficient standing to bring the suit forward (despite all this timing being arranged years ago when the RPV State Central Committee addressed the issue).
Here are the specifics of the suit:
Cuccinelli, a lawyer, represented the 11th Senatorial District Committee of Chesterfield County. The district is represented by state Sen. Stephen H. Martin, a Republican, who already has filed papers to hold a nominating primary in the district in June next year. All members of the General Assembly are up for re-election next year. Cuccinelli argued that Martin could be damaged politically by crossover voters who do not have Martin's best interests at heart.
Assistant Attorney General James Stuchell said the court could not prove injury to Martin because there was no guarantee he would run in 2007, nor that he would have opposition if he were to run. (Emphasis mine)
Will the judges agree with the AG's office that injury could not be proven? Do they also believe Cuccinelli's lawsuit to keep liberal activists out of the GOP should be dropped?
The judges questioned Stuchell's position that a suit could be filed next year, closer to the proposed primary. That might not lead to sufficient time to challenge the statute, they said.
This is extremely interesting subject matter and could have a huge impact on Virginia politics. I am just very surprised a conservative such as Bob McDonnell is having his offices actively oppose the effort. Does a closed primary benefit Bolling more than McDonnell?
UPDATED: Please see Shaun Kenney's comment for further clarification. It appears I misunderstood McDonnell's "obligatory" action as optional.
UPDATED: Below is a response from McDonnell's Director of Communications- it should clear everything up.
Just a quick note to follow up on Shaun Kenneyâ€™s clarification. Shaun is exactly right. The Office of the Attorney General serves as counsel to all state agencies, therefore we have a statutory obligation to represent the State Board of Elections. This is also why you will note that in any articles about this case we will not offer comment, as that would represent a conflict of interest. As the stateâ€™s law firm this office has statutory obligations that it must adhere to. In the future, if you ever have any questions about an action this office has taken please let me know so I can explain the circumstances of the situation and make sure everyone is on the same page. Thanks, and keep up the good work with the blog
J. Tucker Martin
Director of Communications
Office of the Attorney General
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