The federal government shutdown has emerged as a new dividing line in the Virginia governor's race.
Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe originally planned to use a tour of a Tysons area tech company Tuesday as a backdrop for an announcement on his ethics reform plan. But that plan was quickly scrapped in favor of a focus on the shutdown and and attempts to link it to Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli.
"My opponent Ken Cuccinelli ought to do same thing Governor Bob McDonnell has done. We need to come together," said McAuliffe. "We cannot use the federal government budget as a bargaining chip in this tea party ideological war and he needs to tell his allies in Congress to stop it."
Monday, Republican Gov. McDonnell condemned both Republicans and Democrats for the shutdown. Tuesday, Democratic activists underscored McAuliffe's attack creating a mocking on line petition drive.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), a key figure in pushing for the shutdown, has a fundraiser coming up with Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli's aides said he was unavailable for interviews Tuesday. His GOP allies created a web ad suggesting McAuliffe is the candidate more in sync with Washington-style gridlock. It spotlights a video of McAuliffe making a line-in-the-sand statement about Medicaid expansion to a group of supporters, telling them, "Please don't send me a bill unless the Medicaid expansion is included."
McAuliffe disputes the allegation he'd force a state government shutdown if elected governor.
"I've already been reaching out to Republicans about what we need to do," McAuliffe said. "There will never be a government shutdown in Virginia"
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Ken Cuccinelli did issue a written statement saying, “I am very disappointed that President Obama and both parties in Congress proved unable to work together to prevent an unacceptable outcome for Virginia: a shutdown of the federal government."
The statement also took a swipe at McAuliffe.
"It’s not surprising that Terry McAuliffe, who has redefined what it means to be a Washington insider, is trying to score political points over a government shutdown."
But some political analysts say it's Cuccinelli who has more to to fear from the shutdown because voters are blaming Republicans more than Democrats for the impasse.
"I think it's an easy argument for the Democrats to try to make that connection in the minds of voters, whether fair or not, Ken Cuccinelli with the tea party, the far right wing, look at what you get when republicans get some power," said George Mason University political analyst Mark Rozell. "I think it's really bad for the Cuccinelli campaign."