Virginia’s GOP gubernatorial candidate, Ken Cuccinelli, was trailing in polls before the shutdown started. Democrats have pressed their advantage by linking the crisis in D.C. completely to Cuccinelli’s party and ticket. Thus, a long-planned Cuccinelli appearance with Ted Cruz is turned into a negative hit, and a way to bring up a sort-of-related Cuccinelli shutdown threat. (In 2006, Cuccinelli said he’d have taken negotiations “right to the brink, over the brink” rather than approve a tax hike that ended up going through.)
Effective on its own, but it’s not on its own. E.W. Jackson, the preacher who talked his way into the lieutenant governor nomination at the state GOP convention,* happened to get a prime camera-friendly spot at a 2011 rally for the Republican version of the spring 2011 continuing resolution. He was behind Rep. Mike Pence as the congressman warned Tea Partiers that the Democratic Senate might try to dodge the spending cuts Republicans wanted. If they tried it, said Pence, “I say shut it down.” Jackson joined in on the chant of “cut it or shut it!”
The Jackson campaign’s response to this underscored the difficulty Republicans have in flipping the onus for shutdowns. Yes, Jackson was at this speech—but his opponent, Ralph Northam, “was all for shutting the government down just last year in regards to the Silver Line for the Metro!” Great point—Northam and Virginia Democrats negotiated harder for a piece of public transportation that Northern Virginians wanted, and there actually wasn’t a shutdown.
*The party’s choice to hold a convention instead of a primary made Jackson’s nomination possible. In 2012, as a U.S. Senate candidate, Jackson lost the primary with a result in the low single digits.