Friday, October 2, 2009

Attorney General candidate debate on WTOP radio – Shannon conference call

Steve Shannon and Ken Cuccinelli Debate

Steve Shannon and Ken Cuccinelli Debate

Sen. Ken Cuccinelli Republican opponent immediately attacked Shannon in his opening remarks saying, “after 3 ½ months of you avoiding every other debate I am glad you finally joined me.”

Steve Shannon, Democrat for Attorney General candidate opened with remarks emphasizing that Virginia does not have sufficient technological resources to go after child pornographers on the Internet.

Cuccinelli said he would protect Virginia’s right to work laws and charged that Shannon wants Virginia to be a 100% union state. Moderator Mark Plotkin was surprised by the attack in Cuccinelli’s opening statement, saying “it was a first for him.”

Shannon avoided Plotkin’s offer for rebuttal and said he is a “pro-business, law and order centrist” touting his endorsement by Northern Virginia Technology Council who also endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell. Shannon did say both are having as many debates as the gubernatorial candidates. He quipped, “we’re having a debate now … let’s talk about issues.”

Cuccinelli responded that the Attorney General’s race gets little coverage from the media and that is why debates are so important. Shannon said, “we have spent a quarter of this debate right now talking about how many debates we should have.”

Following that exchange both made their case for fighting violent crime citing there endorsements while Plotkin pressed Cuccinelli on his qualifications specifically saying that “people in your own party said that being a prosecutor was necessary to be a good attorney general.” Cuccinelli then lauded his extensive service on the Courts Committee.

Cuccinelli charged that Shannon got the death penalty wrong as well as the Melendez-Diaz Supreme Court decision and he got it right. Shannon downplayed Cuccinelli’s service on the Courts Committee saying that as a prosecutor he has experienced violence first hand – “all of a sudden public safety isn’t a bunch of abstract votes – it becomes something real.”

Shannon said, “if your priority is to be the top law enforcement officer then I think it’s really important [but] if you’re a social crusader and focused on civil aspects of the job [being a prosecutor] is not necessary.”

Plotkin questioned Cuccinelli’s on his extreme right-wing stance on social issues. Cuccinelli said that there are two issues – partial-birth abortion and the marriage amendment. “That challenge is coming [to the marriage amendment]” said Cuccinelli saying, “I am the only candidate who has had a consistent position on defending it.” Shannon insinuated that Cuccinelli has strict constructionist views and that they view the job of attorney general differently. Shannon said the roll of the attorney general  is to represent the client (State), advise the governor and general assembly and uphold the existing laws.

In another contentious exchange, Cuccinelli claimed retired Democratic State Senator Benjamin J. Lambert III had endorsed his campaign. Even before the debate had concluded Lambert assured a Shannon staffer that he has yet to endorse either candidate in the race.

In closing remarks Shannon asserted that Cuccinelli in their last debate called global warming a conspiracy that would destroy capitalism. Cuccinelli reiterated his belief that the Earth is cooling not warming.

Shannon held a press conference call shortly after and took questions from reporters. In it he accused Cuccinelli of having a “personal political agenda.” He claimed his opponent would only defend laws he disagreed with. He also accused him of being the only statewide official who has not called on Phil Hamilton to resign. “Public education funds should be used to educate our young children and not to line the pockets of your cronies,” said Shannon.

To a question on the importance of being a prosecutor for the job Shannon replied, “it would be a case of on-the-job training” for Cuccinelli.

When asked about Melendez-Diaz and Shannon’s claim that Cuccinelli’s call for a special session was a “political stunt.” Shannon said that he did advise the governor to call a special session. He admitted that Cuccinelli got the first press release out calling for a special session but as a prosecutor I understand these issues and “he is barking up the wrong tree” with his accusation.

Regarding the call for the resignation of Phil Hamilton, Shannon said that it doesn’t matter your party affiliation when it comes to public corruption. “Cuccinelli does not understand the difference of being the top law enforcement officer and being a judge,” said Shannon.

When asked what laws he thought Cuccinelli would enforce Shannon said, “in the Republican primary he said he would not enforce laws he [Cuccinelli] thought were unconstitutional.” On defending abortions laws already on Virginia’s books Shannon said that, “Ken’s silence is deafening on this.”

When asked about strengthening campaign finance laws Shannon pointed to his website where he outlines his commitment to strengthen conflict of interest law.

WTOP.COM replay of debate CLICK HERE.

Posted By Valerie Garner

Categories: Election 2009, Politics, State Politics

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