McAuliffe run to left risky with mod­er­ates Adds coal lim­its to firm lib­eral stance

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY DAVID SHERFINSKI

Terry McAuliffe on Tues­day added coal to the is­sues on which he has as­sumed a firmly lib­eral po­si­tion, stak­ing his nar­row lead in the gov­er­nor’s race on the hope that Vir­ginia’s mod­er­ate elec­torate is ready to se­lect a Demo­cratic can­di­date who also supports gay mar­riage, gun con­trol and abor­tion rights.

Mr. McAuliffe for the first time voiced sup­port for stricter carbon emis­sions reg­u­la­tions pro­posed by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion, tak­ing a po­si­tion that shores up his left flank on the is­sue but risks alien­at­ing blocs of vot­ers in a state that has tog­gled be­tween blue and red in re­cent years.

Pressed dur­ing a tour of a North­ern Vir­ginia com­pany on whether he supports the guide­lines as writ­ten, the Vir­ginia gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date said, “I do, you bet,” ac­cord­ing to The Wash­ing­ton Post. “What I’ve looked at, I sup­port what we need to do to ob­vi­ously pro­tect our air and wa­ter.”

The En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency last month an­nounced the long-an­tic­i­pated emis­sions rules that those in the in­dus­try say make new coal plants im­pos­si­ble. The rules would re­quire new coal-fired power plants to in­stall ex­pen­sive tech­nol­ogy to cap­ture carbon diox­ide. No U.S. plant has done that, largely be­cause of the cost. Op­po­nents say that makes the rule ripe for chal­lenges.

Dur­ing his failed 2009 cam­paign for gov­er­nor, Mr. McAuliffe said he never wanted to see another coal plant built in Vir­ginia, and his Repub­li­can op­po­nent, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ken­neth T. Cuc­cinelli II, has ham­mered him and Pres­i­dent Obama for wag­ing a “war on coal” — an in­dus­try vi­tal to the south­west­ern part of the state.

Mr. Cuc­cinelli seized on the ad­mis­sion, is­su­ing a state­ment say­ing he is the “only can­di­date in this race who has con­sis­tently fought for Vir­ginia jobs and re­spon­si­ble en­ergy pol­icy.”

“It’s un­for­tu­nate that my op­po­nent has been un­will­ing to fight for ei­ther,” he said. “If Terry is Gov­er­nor, you can count on him to roll over to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.”

Mr. McAuliffe’s cam­paign re­sponded by say­ing that, un­like Mr. Cuc­cinelli, the Demo­crat is will­ing to sup­port en­ergy tech­nolo­gies that will al­low the state’s econ­omy to di­ver­sify while pro­tect­ing jobs.

“Terry be­lieves that lim­its on carbon pol­lu­tion at new power plants should be im­ple­mented in an ef­fec­tive man­ner to en­cour­age in­no­va­tion and pro­tect clean air,” spokesman Josh Sch­w­erin said in an email.

In at­tempts to paint Mr. Cuc­cinelli as out­side of Vir­ginia’s “main­stream” on is­sues such as abor­tion and gun rights, Mr. McAuliffe at other times has taken po­si­tions that are to the left of some Democrats — and un­apolo­get­i­cally so, in the case of gun con­trol.

Dur­ing a de­bate last week, he af­firmed his sup­port for the Sec­ond Amend­ment while reaf­firm­ing his back­ing of a ban on mil­i­tary-style, semi-au­to­matic weapons and back­ground checks on gun pur­chases.

“Now what­ever rat­ing I may get from the NRA, I’m go­ing to stand here and tell you to­day that, as gov­er­nor, I want to make sure that ev­ery one of our cit­i­zens in the com­mon­wealth of Vir­ginia are safe,” he said.

The Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion has awarded Mr. Cuc­cinelli an A and Mr. McAuliffe and F.

Larry Sa­bato, di­rec­tor of the Univer­sity of Vir­ginia’s Center for Pol­i­tics, cau­tioned not to read too much into the pos­tur­ing of Mr. McAuliffe, who holds a slight lead in the race, ac­cord­ing to most re­cent polling. He said that gen­er­ally speak­ing, politi­cians essen­tially will do what­ever it takes to get across the fin­ish line.

“They take the po­si­tions and they do what they have to do to win — pe­riod,” he said.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Vir­ginia gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Terry McAuliffe risks alien­at­ing blocs of vot­ers with his sup­port for stricter carbon emis­sions from coal plants.

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