More Endorsements in AG Race

With just a little over a month to go in the AG’s race, the endorsements are now coming fast and furious. This morning, Ken Cuccinelli announced that he has been endorsed by Fred Thompson, former Senator from Tennessee, ex-Presidential candidate, actor, and radio personality. Not to be outdone, John Brownlee announced the endorsement of former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

Now what to make of these endorsements? Frankly, most endorsements plus a buck fifty can get you a cup of coffee (and not a very good cup, at that). Very few voters vote based on the “scorecard” of endorsements. Perhaps at a very local level they can help, where people have a personal relationship with the endorser, and when the endorsing candidate has a “cult of personality” that follows them on every issue. However, where they are important are where they change or aid perceptions about a candidate and when they come with material gain.

Although I certainly did not expect Keating and Sessions to get involved in a Virginia nominating contest, their endorsement of Brownlee is not entirely surprising. Both are former U.S Attorneys, just like Brownlee. I have a great deal of respect for Frank Keating, and would have supported him for POTUS in a heartbeat. However, I also know that USAs have somewhat of their own fraternity, so it makes sense for them to endorse Brownlee. In that sense, their endorsement reaffirms what we already know about Brownlee–that he is Virginia’s “conservative prosecutor.” I hardly expect, though, that the attachment of their name will send anyone clamoring into Team Brownlee, as neither men has organized a campaign in Virginia. (Although I did find it intriguing that the email pointed to both as fiscal conservatives, a heretofore absent issue during the Brownlee effort)

Thompson’s endorsement, however, may have a bit more lasting impact. Thompson ran in 2008, and two of his most top level surrogates in the state were former Governor George Allen and current GOP Gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. Additionally, although Thompson did not make it to the primary, between that race and his PAC he almost certainly must have an email and fundraising base in Virginia that can aid the Virginia effort. In short, Thompson has far more cachet with Virginians, but more importantly he has resources that the Cooch can use. Additionally, his endorsement means that he now has two ’09 contenders in his camp (he was previously endorsed by Mike Huckabee). If this is any indication, Cuccinelli is quickly building an unsoalition of fiscal, social, and “across-the-board” conservatives that may simply be unstoppable on the first ballot come May 30th.

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