Washington’s Flubs Color Contests in Virginia and Beyond

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe, left, and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli at a debate in September. Associated Press

From the stage at Liberty University, a conservative Christian school near Virginia’s Blue Ridge mountains, Ken Cuccinelli II took aim at the federal health-care law championed by President Barack Obama.

“If you want to send a message to Washington and vote no on Obamacare, I need your vote,” he said. On the airwaves, allies of Mr. Cuccinelli, the Republican candidate for governor, are urging voters: “Make Virginia a referendum on Obamacare.”

Mr. Cuccinelli’s Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, is asking voters to keep a different Washington debate in mind: The government shutdown that hit particularly hard in the state, with its many federal and defense workers. One McAuliffe radio ad calls Mr. Cuccinelli a “radical Republican” and declares, “It’s no surprise that Cuccinelli supports the tea party in Congress.”

Virginia is proving to be a laboratory for how recent events in Washington are likely to play in campaigns across the country, as both parties try to use problems with the health-care law and partial government shutdown—both of which provoked significant public anger—to their advantage.

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