Sabato: Cuccinelli considered dramatic move involving McDonnell to shake up race

Wow, what could have been. Had Gov. Bob McDonnell been indicted by federal prosecutors for his role in the Star Scientific scandal, Ken Cuccinelli was planning a dramatic public break with McDonnell involving a little-known section of the Virginia Constitution.

cuccinelli-header2This is according to Larry Sabato at the University of Virginia Center for Politics in his weekly column on Thursday.

Article V, Section 16 of the Virginia Constitution allows for the removal of the governor from office “(w)henever the Attorney General, the President pro tempore of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Delegates, or a majority of the total membership of the General Assembly, transmit to the Clerk of the Senate and the Clerk of the House of Delegates their written declaration that the Governor is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

In that scenario, the lieutenant governor assumes the powers and duties of the office as acting governor.

Sabato notes that it is unknown whether Cuccinelli could have gotten any of the other actors listed in the constitutional language to act with him, “and even if they had, there is a complicated back-and-forth whereby McDonnell could have tried to regain his powers swiftly.”

It may not have mattered, according to Sabato.

“This stunning, headline-grabbing announcement would have enabled Cuccinelli to separate himself from McDonnell’s liabilities to a great extent; in addition, the Republican attorney general would have dominated the campaign for, possibly, weeks, sidelining McAuliffe to a certain degree,” Sabato wrote.

There has been no comment on this from the Cuccinelli camp.

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