Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli really, really didn’t need a federal government shutdown. He was already trailing Terry McAuliffe in every recent poll. He already had a questionable ticket and a divided party dogging him. So with up to 170,000 federal employees in the state being prevented from going to work by the very faction of the GOP with which Cooch is heavily identified, and real economic side-effects for the Commonwealth well within sight, it’s not looking good for the fieriest Obamacare-hater of them all.

Like several GOP House members from VA, Cooch has opposed the shutdown. He has also (with the same best-defense-is-a-good-offense tactic he used earlier in claiming critics of Virginia’s atavistic sodomy laws were coddling child abusers) tried to suggest T-Mac might shut down Virginia’s government in an effort to force a Medicaid expansion.

But his main argument is that the fight in Washington has nothing to do with him (which is, of course, undercut a bit by his long involvement in the kill-Obamacare effort):

Danny Diaz, a senior campaign adviser, said voters would be able to make a distinction between Washington lawmakers and the statewide candidates for governor.

“I think these are voters who are going to understand, O.K., this is the federal government, and these are guys running for state office, and I’ve heard from them and I’m going to weigh that,” he said.

Hmmm. Cooch ought to talk Jeb Bush before relying on that assumption. Jebbie famously lost his first bid for governor of Florida (and hence the opportunity to run for president as the Bush Dynastic Candidate in 2000) in 1994 in no small part because Lawton Chiles succeeded in tying him to Medicare cuts being proposed by Republicans in Congress.

In any event, Republicans who have spent the last five years trying to tie Democratic candidates to Barack Obama are in a poor position to urge voters to make fine distinctions between members of the same party. The silver lining for Cooch is that he may have an excuse for losing instead of admitting he hasn’t worn well on Virginia voters.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.