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Virginia Republican Candidate Criticized As Being Out Of Mainstream

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Now that Virginia Republicans have selected a slate of candidates, some are criticizing the ticket as too extreme. 

It didn't take long for Democrats to start castigating the Republican ticket selected over the weekend in Richmond as too extreme for Virginia. That was expected. But what's surprising is that some Republicans have joined the chorus. Vince Callahan is a Republican who represented Fairfax County in the General Assembly for 40 years, and he's endorsing former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe instead of Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

"From the McAuliffe standpoint, it guarantees almost a victory because you are turning off a vast majority of not only all Virginians but also a significant portion of the Republican base," he says.

Catherine Waddell is a former Republican who represented Richmond in the House of Delegates.

"None of us can afford to sit on the sidelines and let this ticket turn Virginia into a playground for their extreme agenda," she adds.

Perhaps the most surprising outcome of the convention was the selection of conservative black pastor E.W. Jackson as the party's choice for lieutenant governor. Among other things, Jackson has compared Planned Parenthood to the Ku Klux Klan and referred to gays in the military as "sexually twisted." University of Virginia Center for Politics analyst Geoff Skelley says the candidate for lieutenant governor may act as a drag on the ticket.

"If Jackson does prove to be a true liability for the Republican ticket, then they will probably look back on the decision to shift to a convention with some remorse," he says.

Although the campaign for lieutenant governor is usually a sleeper, this year the race has heightened importance. Because the state Senate is evenly split between 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans, whichever party wins the election also wins control of the Senate. 

"Terry McAuliffe is not the most highly regarded Democrat, and a lot of Democrats are frustrated by that choice. But he will have some material to use to paint the Republican ticket as too conservative for Virginia," says Stephen Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington.

Democrats will select their candidate in a statewide primary slated for June.

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