Governor's Gifts Investigation Could Overshadow Election

5:17 PM, Jul 19, 2013   |    comments
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WUSA9) -- UVA political analyst Larry Sabato thinks its unlikely Governor Bob McDonnell will resign over the gift scandal. 

"I don't know which is worse, really, the first indicted governor of Virginia  or fist to resign." 

McDonnell is under both a state and Federal investigation for large gifts he and his family received from Jonnie Williams, CEO of the nutritional supplement company Star Scientific.   

Sabato said, "The feds could be using the Hobbs Act.  It's possible if the lawyers the Governor has say, 'Hey, the way to get out of this for you and your family, take resignation, you'll be rid of it.' But, I think it's unlikely."  

State senator Chap Petersen is one of two democratic lawmakers calling for the Governor to resign. 

Governor McDonnell's Star Scientific problem is also a problem for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli who is running for governor.

Cuccinelli also took gifts from Jonnie Williams and failed to disclose them. Even though an investigation found no criminal wrongdoing, he may have an appearance problem. 

Sabato says, "He was not vindicated by that report.  Essentially what they said was, he was very sloppy.  And do you want sloppiness in an Attorney General?" 

While Cuccinelli has that conflict of interest problem, his democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, has many other problems.

Sabato says, "There is not one person who thinks there's nothing on Terry McAuliffe.   He has raised billions for the Clintons and Democrats over the years.  There are bound to be some quid pro quos.  Gee, do you think maybe the Republicans have looked into that?" 

McAuliffe's years of fundraising experience will help him continue to out raise and out advertize Cuccinelli.  

Who will win the debate?

"The better debater, both sides agree is Ken Cuccinelli.  But just because you win a debate, doesn't mean you win the people, if the issues aren't on your side.  And Cuccinelli has had a string of bad luck for his campaign," says Sabato.

Sabato says when you're on the defensive,  it's hard to look good. 

The debate will be broadcast live on PBS at 11 am Saturday. 

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