Va. attorney general Cuccinelli weighs Senate run against Mark Warner

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) is considering a run for Senate in 2014 against Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.).
 
Cuccinelli had been considered a front-runner for the Virginia governor’s mansion, but indicated Monday that his political aspirations might be higher. He attacked Warner in an interview with The Washington Post, criticizing the Democrat for doing little to shake up Washington.  

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“I understand from people he and I both talk to that he’s pretty frustrated with it,’’ Cuccinelli said. “[But] I don’t see him doing anything to change that system. He hasn’t even tried.”

Warner would prove a difficult challenge for Cuccinelli in a general-election match-up. The former governor remains among the state’s most popular politicians, and won his 2008 Senate election by more than a million votes.

But Cuccinelli has a strong following in Virginia as well. He is a Tea Party darling and has won plaudits from conservatives for aggressively challenging the constitutionality of healthcare reform and environmental regulations.

Cuccinelli said Warner's voting record suggests he wants to be a presidential candidate. Warner weighed a run in the 2008 election before ultimately deciding against it.

“His voting suggests he wants to keep that option open because he’s pandering to all those constituencies,’’ Cuccinelli said.

Cuccinelli questioned Warner’s effectiveness as a legislator, noting that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) excluded Warner from the new congressional supercommittee tasked with finding more than $1 trillion in deficit cuts. Warner lobbied for a seat on the panel.

“Warner was given the back of Reid’s hand on this debt thing,’’ Cuccinelli said. “He was out there playing himself as leader, leader, leader [and Reid said], 'Mark who?' ”

If Cucinelli were to run for the Senate, it could prevent a Republican primary showdown between him and current Lt. Governor Bill Bolling, who has already indicated that he plans to run for governor in 2013.