Home Can Shannon reverse trend in AG race?

Can Shannon reverse trend in AG race?


Democrats seem to start off behind the eight-ball in attorney-general’s races. I say that because Republicans have won the last four, dating back to Jim Gilmore’s win over Bill Dolan in 1993.

That the trend has continued even as Democrats have won the past two governor’s races and past two U.S. Senate races says something to me. It says something to Democratic Party attorney-general nominee Steve Shannon, too.

“When you talk about the history of the AG’s office, what you’ll notice is a trend. They want to elect people who have been prosecutors. They want to elect people who have been prosecutors because they realize that somebody has to be the man or the woman who is constantly focused on keeping people safe,” said Shannon, a former prosecutor who is running against Republican State Sen. Ken Cuccinelli for the attorney-general post.

The two have dramatically differing visions for the job. Cuccinelli emphasizes constitutional issues and the attorney general’s oversight of state laws and policies, while Shannon sells public safety as the key to his candidacy.

“I think it starts with where we came from. I didn’t start in the political ranks. I started off years ago in public safety,” Shannon said, telling his story about how he and his wife, Abby, began the effort to bring the Amber Alert program to Northern Virginia.

“My opponent comes up through the political ranks, so he views the AG’s office not as a public-safety office, an office that should not be politicized, an office that should consist of career public servants who should keep people safe, but he sees it as a way to promote a personal political agenda,” Shannon said.

Shannon served his time in Richmond in the House of Delegates as well, representing a swing district in Northern Virginia that had been in the hands of the GOP for more than a decade before his election in 2003.

“I am a centrist, pragmatic, public safety-oriented guy, and people in my community responded to that. They didn’t care about the party label. They cared about the person,” Shannon said.

Shannon is banking on his ability to get his message about his public-safety focus to voters to turn an apparently GOP-leaning race around in his favor.

“Public safety gets called to the forefront of the media when something goes wrong. But if you’re doing things right in public safety, that doesn’t happen a lot. It’s a day-in, day-out grind, where you’re trying to find smart ways to prevent bad things from happening. That’s what you do in public safety. Somebody with a personal political agenda, they don’t look at the office like that. They’re trying to figure out, Where’s the next press release, Where do I promote my own profile? But really you measure success by how many people you keep safe,” Shannon said.


– Story by Chris Graham



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