Virginia Republicans on Saturday formally nominated Ken Cuccinelli for governor in the nation's marquee 2013 political race, and the conservative attorney general wasted no time reminding voters of the scandals facing President Barack Obama.
"I am not a true conservative because I have not been investigated by the IRS," joked Cuccinelli, referring to the controversy that has engulfed the federal tax collection agency over its targeting of conservative Tea Party groups.
Cuccinelli has strong support from Tea Party activists, who are incensed by the Internal Revenue Service's actions, which Obama has called "outrageous" and vowed to investigate.
Northern Virginia, just across the Potomac River from Washington, is home to thousands of government workers who helped swing the state to Obama in the November election.
But Republicans hope the troubles of the president - which also include the handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, and the Justice Department secretly obtaining the phone records of some Associated Press reporters - will rub off on Cuccinelli's opponent, Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic Party chairman and fundraiser.
Cuccinelli took a swipe at McAuliffe on Saturday for his long political service in the nation's capital, saying his opponent knew Washington, but "I know Virginia."
Virginia has twice voted for Obama but has a Republican governor. In addition to the Washington suburbs, which tend to vote Democratic, Virginia has large rural areas that are more conservative and Republican, making it a swing state.
This is a quiet year for U.S. voters and Virginia's election in November is the only competitive governor's race. In New Jersey, polls show Republican Governor Chris Christie holds a comfortable lead over his Democratic opponent, state Senator Barbara Buono.
In his acceptance speech on Saturday, Cuccinelli stressed the familiar Republican themes of tax cuts, jobs, small government and opposition to abortion.
Views of Obama could play a significant role in the outcome of the race, said Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
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