RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican Ken Cuccinelli won an endorsement in the governor's race on Monday from one of northern Virginia's most influential business groups over Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
TechPAC, the political action committee of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, endorsed Cuccinelli after a forum between the two candidates and private interviews with each.
As word of the decision got out over the weekend, allies of McAuliffe's contacted the head of TechPAC to ask him to reconsider.
Dendy Young, the chairman of TechPAC, cited what he said was Cuccinelli's "experience in Virginia government, command of the issues, and knowledge of key technology priorities" in a release announcing the endorsement over McAuliffe.
The endorsement came as a blow to McAuliffe, who's running on a platform of "jobs, jobs, jobs."
He has argued that Cuccinelli's opposition to reproductive rights and gay rights and stance on climate change would make Virginia less attractive to businesses looking to expand or new start-up ventures.
Young addressed the concern in announcing the endorsement.
"Cuccinelli assured TechPAC Trustees during the interview process that his administration will focus on jobs and the economy, and not on a divisive social agenda, which TechPAC believes would seriously hurt the appeal of Virginia as a place to locate and grow businesses," he wrote.
Allies of McAuliffe, hearing of the pending endorsement over the weekend, commenced a barrage of e-mails and phone calls expressing disbelief and even outrage at the decision of TechPAC's board to endorse Cuccinelli. And it wasn't just Democrats weighing in against it, he said.
"The pressure is hot and heavy," Young wrote in an e-mail Sunday morning to TechPAC members. "I personally received calls yesterday from Sen. Mark Warner, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Aneesh Chopra, and several others."
Chopra was an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor this year and is the former chief technology officer to President Barack Obama's White House.
The Associated Press obtained a copy of the email. Attached to it were emails Young said he had received Saturday condemning the endorsement or calling for it to either be halted or reversed.
"It is totally unbelievable that that NVTC PAC would even remotely consider a person with his miserable record," wrote state Senate Democratic Leader Richard L. Saslaw of Fairfax.
Another Fairfax Democratic senator, Janet D. Howell, took it a step farther, calling it "incomprehensible" and warning that the NVTC would compromise its alliances with legislative Democrats, who have long supported the organization's efforts.
"The ramifications of his being endorsed will be huge within the Senate Democratic caucus," Howell wrote to Young. "The response will be frigid and doors will be closed. Achieving the goals of NVTC will be difficult to impossible."
Democrats rule 20 of the Senate's 40 seats, but Republicans hold organization control by virtue of Republican Bolling's tie-breaking vote. But Bolling is not seeking a third term. The outcome of the election to determine his successor plus the statewide candidacies of three senators — Democrat Ralph Northam for lieutenant governor, and those of Republican Mark Obenshain and Democrat Mark Herring for attorney general — could affect Senate voting majorities when the 2014 General Assembly convenes in January.
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