This week’s column from Clark Judge:
Virginia Will Write the Next Big Chapter in the Obamacare Story
By Clark S. Judge, managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc.; chairman, Pacific Research Institute
Sometimes in politics big doors turn on small hinges. Virginia’s pick of a governor next Tuesday could prove the small hinge on which the big national door of Obamacare’s fate turns – one way or the other.
With all that has misfired in the administration’s takeover of the health insurance marketplace, clear voter rejection of a high-profile gubernatorial candidate who gives the massively dysfunctional Affordable Care Act his unqualified support could be all that is needed to start Democrats in Congress rushing for the exits. It could provide the essential push that moves Congress to reforming the law.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe – a close ally of the president and super-wealthy Democratic Party fundraiser – is poised to be that bellwether candidate. He has loudly and repeatedly promised to march his state into a full-monty embrace of Obamacare. Meanwhile Republican Ken Cuccinelli is the nation’s most prominent state official opposing the massive law. He led state attorney generals in their anti-Obamacare lawsuits.
There is also a Libertarian candidate in the race. But if he proves a spoiler, count on Democrats nationally to hold ranks. National Democrats will see the anti-Obamacare coalition as too fractured to be a viable threat and they will be right. Whether McAuliffe wins or loses will be the only metric that will matters in Virginia.
What are the odds of Cuccinelli defeating the deep pockets Democrat?
The polling is a flashback to last year’s presidential race, that is, it is all over the place. The Roanoke College poll shows McAuliffe up by 15 points; the Quinnipiac poll has him ahead by 4 points. But the talk among professionals is that Cuccinelli is closing in. If body language matters, of late McAuliffe seems to have lost his earlier swagger.
There are, of course, other issues in the race. For example, McAuliffe has said he wants to stop the building of coal-fired electric plants in the state, which is bad in itself for Virginia’s coal miners. But it is also a sure way to increase electric bills throughout a state where local coal is the principle source of inexpensive power plant fuel.
Then, too, in education, McAuliffe is close to the unions. Cuccinelli promises to be a reformer. McAuliffe is a raise-taxes liberal. Cuccinelli is a pro-growth conservative.
But from a national perspective none of these other issues (critical though they are for the state’s future) matters. Whatever the outcome, the nationally race will be read as an Obamacare victory or defeat, with all in this tumultuous moment could follow from that.
A big door will swing open – or not — on that hinge.