AFP Focus | Shannon pushes crime-fighting credentials

It’s hard for Steve Shannon to understand being criticized for saying that as Virginia attorney general he would make it his priority to fight crime, but it’s out there.

“My focus is always on keeping people safe, and I don’t view that as a weakness. I view it as a great strength,” said Shannon, the Democratic Party nominee, who by most accounts is fighting an uphill battle in his bid to become the first Democrat elected to the attorney-general post since Mary Sue Terry’s 1989 re-election, in an interview with the AFP on Monday.

Shannon is trailing Republican Ken Cuccinelli by double digits in most polls, though one released by Christopher Newport University last week that didn’t push undecided voters to indicate a leaning preference pegged the uncommitted vote in the 45 percent range, suggesting that Shannon might have an outside shot in the Nov. 3 election.

“There are a large number of undecideds. Part of the challenge is to reach out to voters all over the state and to let them know, one, that there is an attorney-general race, and two, what the difference of opinion is with regard to the role of the office,” said Shannon, a Northern Virginia state lawmaker and former state prosecutor whose crime-fighting credentials aren’t at question even as his approach to running the attorney-general office has been at question.

Cuccinelli, in contrast to Shannon, has pledged to use the office in an activist, Capitol Hill watchdog-type manner that Shannon has blasted as “politicizing” the Office of Attorney General.

“My fight is against drug dealers and gang leaders and adult sexual predators who lure our kids,” Shannon said.

Shannon subtly, but noticeably, distanced himself from the Democratic Party fold in our interview, probably not surprising given the damage incurred by the brand from the on-its-way-to-a-historic-loss Creigh Deeds gubernatorial campaign.

“People understand that the role of attorney general is a job in Virginia where you get nominated to run for election by a political party. But our citizens also understand that the office should be won in an apolitical way in order to keep everybody safe,” Shannon said.

Then we got back on message. “The reality is that the presence of gangs in Virginia is the worst it’s been since 2000,” Shannon said.

“It’s not getting better; it’s getting worse. I think the top priority of the next attorney general in Virginia needs to be to go after gang leaders, try to make sure that gangs are out of every community in Virginia. It’s not a Democratic or Republican issue. It’s a priority issue,” Shannon said.
“I believe that the scourge of drug trafficking, particularly along our interstates, has to be a key issue that the next attorney general fights against. It’s a priority of mine should I get elected attorney general. I think that the next attorney general has to take a leading role in going after people engaged in child porn,” Shannon said.

“Every day that I’m attorney general, I’m going to focus on keeping families and kids safe,” Shannon said.

 

– Story by Chris Graham

 



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