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Cuccinelli: McAuliffe missed chance to help area
GOP candidate blasts foe during local stop
Republican gubernatorial candidate and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli speaks Saturday at the site of Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre along U.S. 220 in Henry County. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)
Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli said Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe “had a personal opportunity to make a difference for the folks in Martinsville and Southside Virginia, and he turned his back.”
Cuccinelli made a campaign stop Saturday at the site of Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre off U.S. 220 south of Ridgeway near the North Carolina line.
Cuccinelli said that in 2009, officials of GreenTech Automotive visited Commonwealth Crossing and other sites in Virginia as a potential site for a plant, but the company eventually decided to locate in Mississippi. McAuliffe was chairman of the company in 2009 but resigned several months ago, according to Cuccinelli and news reports.
“We’re here today to mark the one-year anniversary of a day that we were grandly told would herald a rebirth in American manufacturing, a day that was supposed to lead to 900 high-tech manufacturing jobs by the end of 2012 and produce 10,000 cars by this year,” Cuccinelli said. “One year ago, my opponent was not in Martinsville or anywhere else in Virginia. He was actually 700 miles from here in Horn Lake, Mississippi. One year ago today, my opponent was there to mark the start of production of an electric car developed by GreenTech Automotive, the company of which he was chairman.”
In 2009, Martinsville’s unemployment rate was “an unacceptable 20 percent. It’s not a whole lot better today, at nearly 15 percent, with about one-third of the people in Martinsville on food stamps,” Cuccinelli said.
“For workers and families here in Martinsville, a new major manufacturing facility would be a game-changer. Unfortunately, we now know that McAuliffe was simply playing lip service to the people of Martinsville, trying to convince them he cared about them when he wanted their votes for governor in 2009,” Cuccinelli said.
Cuccinelli said GreenTech Automotive so far has produced a fraction of the cars and employed only a fraction of the people it had projected.
Cuccinelli said GreenTech Automotive chose Mississippi over Virginia because of the lucrative state incentives offered to the company. Cuccinelli said McAuliffe later resigned as chairman of GreenTech Automotive and did not publicly acknowledge it for several months. Cuccinelli also said McAuliffe falsely blamed Virginia economic development officials for GreenTech’s decision to locate in Mississippi, but that the company did not wait long enough for Virginia economic development officials to complete their review. He added that officials in then-Gov. Tim Kaine’s administration had concerns about the company’s business model.
“In hindsight, it probably was a good thing that the struggling company didn’t end up coming here — but t says a lot about Terry McAuliffe that he didn’t put Virginia first,” Cuccinelli said.
“I’ve spent my career putting Virginians first, not politics,” he added. “I’m running for governor to move the commonwealth forward so that every Virginian will have the opportunity to experience the dignity of work, and Virginia’s communities will remain strong and vibrant places to raise a family and grow a business. I will be a governor for all Virginians and will dedicate myself to fighting for the middle class — not the well connected.”
McAuliffe’s campaign could not be reached for comment Saturday. The campaign issued a news release late Saturday afternoon with the headline “The Truth About Who Ken Cuccinelli Puts First.” The release says: “Once again, Ken Cuccinelli’s actions speak volumes louder than his words. Despite his misguided rhetoric, the truth is that Cuccinelli has a well documented history of putting the financial interests of out-of-state energy companies that have donated to his political campaign ahead of the needs of Southwest Virginia landowners and families.
In other remarks Saturday, Cuccinelli talked about his economic growth, jobs and work-force development plans as well as his “all-of-the-above” energy plan. He said he would work aggressively to ease tax and regulatory burdens to attract companies to Virginia to compete with economies around the world.
On energy, his website states: “We need oil, natural gas, and coal to power our homes, cars, and economy and Virginia could be doing more to provide that to the world while growing job opportunities for our middle class. But we also need to find new sources of energy with nuclear, wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, as part of a comprehensive energy program.” He criticized what his campaign calls the “McAuliffe/Obama/Biden war on coal.”
According to information from Cuccinelli’s campaign, his work-force investment and jobs plan is designed to make quantifiable progress in the area of work-force development.
Cuccinelli also said as governor he would work with the Army Corps of Engineers to compel that agency to ease restrictions on economic development sites such as Commonwealth Crossing. The corps has refused to issue a permit needed to start grading at a 200-acre pad at the site because it considers the development speculative since no company has committted to locating there, officials have said.In interviews, W.C. Fowlkes, chairman of the Henry County Republican Committee, and Jeff Williams, chairman of the Martinsville Republican Committee, praised Cuccinelli. Williams praised Cuccinelli’s plan for creating jobs and an environment conducive to job creation. Fowlkes also said he thinks Cuccinelli would help create jobs.
Fowlkes praised Cuccinelli for supporting the coal industry and being willing “to go against the tide” and sometimes not be politically correct in attacking things head-on.
As for Cuccinelli’s comments about McAuliffe and GreenTech Automotive, Fowlkes said, “If you were really dedicated to the commonwealth, I certainly wouldn’t be sending that to Mississippi or any other state.”
About 35 people attended Cuccinelli’s appearance at Commonwealth Crossing.