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Cuccinelli visits politics lecture, describes political successes, opponent's failures

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Republican contender in the Virginia governor race, guest lectured at Politics Prof. Larry Sabato’s “Introduction to American Politics” class Wednesday.

Sabato began by introducing Cuccinelli, a University alumnus who received a degree in mechanical engineering in 1990, and went on to praise Cuccinelli’s work supporting the University’s Take Back the Night event — an annual event held in support of persons affected by sexual violence.

Cuccinelli first lectured on his responsibilities as attorney general and then opened the floor to students’ questions. He spoke at length about what he believes to be his major accomplishments during his term, including gang violence reduction, fraud prevention for the elderly and cracking down on child pornography.

“I heard once that politics is a good thing, and it can be if it is done right,” Cuccinelli said.

Students asked Cuccinelli about a range of issues, including proposed changes to how the state distributes electoral votes, paths to economic growth in Virginia and Environmental Protection Agency regulations. One student brought up the issue of marijuana legalization, to which Cuccinnelli did not take a clear stance.

“I’m not sure about Virginia’s future [in terms of marijuana legalization],” he said. “But I and a lot of people are watching Colorado and Washington to see how it plays out.”

Cuccinelli criticized Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, the likely Democratic nominee. He said McAuliffe had failed to take a strong stance on economic policy.

“In my opponent’s economic proposals he’s talked more about taxes,” Cuccinelli said. “When the economy is in the kind of state it is in, we want to be careful with that.”

Speaking in a college classroom, Cuccinnelli seized an opportunity to address higher education.

“One concern I have is pricing higher education out of the reach of middle class families,” Cuccinelli said. “Making sure students can access an education … and that’s tied into financial stability.”

Brian Coy, a spokesman for the Democratic Party of Virginia, was disappointed Cuccinelli did not address a 2010 civil investigation he brought against the University about the climate research of then-Assoc. Environmental Science Prof. Michael Mann.

“Today’s appearance would have been a great chance for Ken Cuccinelli to apologize for dragging the University into a two-year legal battle in an attempt to harass and intimidate a scientist who refused to yield his academic freedom to Cuccinelli’s radical viewpoints,” Coy said.

Although a student asked Cuccinelli about the Mann litigation, he did not give a full answer, only speaking about the importance of access and choice in education.

Cuccinelli was the first in Sabato’s Virginia governor’s series. McAuliffe will speak to the class at a future date.