RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s outgoing attorney general and lieutenant governor say they will take a break from politics, but they aren’t ruling out a return at some point.
Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli told the Richmond Times-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1cPUmJp ) he plans to focus on building some businesses and his law practice. He previously said he had no plans to seek the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate in 2014, when Democrat Mark R. Warner is up for re-election.
“I’m not running for anything for a while,” he said. “Right now I’m not considering anything. What I’m also not doing is saying ‘never.'”
In a separate interview, Lieutenant Gov. Bill Bolling told the Richmond newspaper (http://bit.ly/1aiPtma ) he will take on additional management responsibilities in his job as vice president of an insurance company.
“I certainly don’t have any current plans to run for public office again, but I learned a long time ago to never say never,” Bolling said.
Bolling and Democratic Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe recently met to talk about a possible role for the outgoing two-term lieutenant governor in the new administration. Bolling said afterward that he would help out as an “informal adviser.”
Cuccinelli lost last month’s gubernatorial race after he and his conservative supporters outmaneuvered Bolling for the GOP nomination. With the departure of Gov. Bob McDonnell and the elections of Mark Herring as attorney general and Ralph Northam as lieutenant governor, Democrats will hold the top three statewide offices for the first time in 24 years. President Barack Obama also carried Virginia in the last two elections, and both of the state’s U.S. senators are Democrats.
“There’s a message in that, and if our party fails to heed that message we will do so at our peril,” Bolling said.
The party is not resonating with more moderate and independent voters, Bolling said, adding that the GOP needs to focus more on jobs, education, transportation and health care and less on divisive social issues.
He said he isn’t sure what role he might have in helping shape the GOP’s future.
“But I’m willing to do whatever I can to help get our party back on the right track and back on a winning way,” he said.
Cuccinelli said he is looking forward to returning to civilian life after 11 years in public office, first as a state senator and then as attorney general.
“I am happily a month from today going to be taking a break from all of this and ratcheting down my political and policy involvement,” Cuccinelli said earlier this month.
Cuccinelli said money, not ideas, was the difference in his loss last month.
“I wasn’t beaten with an agenda,” he said. “I was outspent by around $15 million, and an awful lot that was untruthful that was utilized to beat me, with the help of the media — either in the form of passive or active” involvement, he said. “We rolled out specific policy proposals from May right through to the end, and I don’t know that there was an enormous amount of traction for that.”
Cuccinelli was a highly visible attorney general, suing the Environmental Protection Agency over its proposed greenhouse gas regulations and coercing the state Board of Health into reversing its vote that exempted existing abortion clinics from stringent new-hospital construction requirements. Most notably, perhaps, he was the first state attorney general to sue over Obama’s health care reform law.
Other activities of the attorney general’s office drew less attention.
“I think there are a lot of things we did here that were important to people,” Cuccinelli said, citing efforts to combat human trafficking and Internet predators.
He also doubled the size of the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, leading to $1.6 billion in court-ordered restitution, fines and penalties — more money was recovered than in the previous 26 years combined — and successfully argued for the exoneration of four men who had been convicted of crimes they did not commit.
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