By Mason Votes Staff Writer Ethan Vaughan
Republican attorney general candidate Ken Cuccinelli and Democratic attorney general candidate Steve Shannon disagreed on economic issues during their Wednesday debate at George Mason University’s Prince William campus, with much of the divergence of views relating to job creation.
Cuccinelli called Virginia’s right-to-work laws, which prohibit compulsory union membership as a condition of employment, critical, and said he would defend them vigorously if elected attorney general.
“The government shouldn’t be creating jobs, it should be creating opportunities,” he said. “We need to reduce regulations and strip out those that don’t provide more of a benefit than a cost. I do not favor collective bargaining. I have a zero percent voting record with the AFL-CIO. My opponent has a 100 percent voting record with the AFL-CIO. That’s a job-killing record.”
Shannon responded that union members were hard-working individuals who deserved the right to work together for better wages and workplace conditions.
Both candidates said that the threat of gang violence is one of the most serious that faces the state.
Shannon stressed his courtroom experience as a Fairfax County prosecutor and stated that he would be ready to tackle hard issues, such as the proliferation of child pornography, the rise in violent crime, drunk driving, increased gang activity within the state and the growing prevalence of prescription drug abuse.
“I will not need on-the-job training to handle this position,” Shannon said. “I’ve actually sat in a court room with gang members sitting behind me as I argued a case against one of their own. I’ve had the sheriffs escorting me to and from the courtroom, checking under my jeep to see if there’s a car bomb there. I’ve presented the photographs of children who were beaten to death by members of MS 13. I’ve been through that.”
Shannon continued saying that nearly 20,000 computers in the state were being used to traffic in child pornography and that more resources were needed to crack down on sexual predators.
Cuccinelli denied that prosecutorial experience was necessary to execute the duties of attorney general, and responded that he had comprehensive plans to deal with many of the problems facing Virginia.
With regard to gang violence, Cuccinelli praised the efforts of Shenandoah Valley authorities, who appointed one person to coordinate anti-gang efforts across jurisdictional lines, suggesting that similar programs implemented in other parts of the state could also be effective.
Both agreed on the need to combat drunk driving and on defending Virginians’ Second Amendment right to bear arms.