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Aug
2013
14

Half-False? VA Gov. Candidate’s Dulles Corridor PLA Comments Rated “Half-True” by Politifact

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In Virginia, the governor’s race between Terry McCaulife and Ken Cuccinelli has transportation as a central theme. For Cuccinelli, attempts to pander to the far right have caused him to roll out some real whoppers regarding Project Labor Agreements (PLAs) and their effect on the Dulles Metro Line bidding process. In a recent radio interview, the Republican Lt. Governor was less than truthful according to Politifact:

“I keep trying to come back to transportation and spending for transportation and when you’ve got the kind of union ties (McAuliffe) does, that’s a concern,” Cuccinelli said during a July 29 radio interview on the John Fredericks Show.

“I mean, the one specific example is in Northern Virginia where the governor forced the rebidding of half of one transportation project — the Metro extension — because they had done that with Project Labor Agreements. These are guaranteed labor contracts and the governor said, `If you want to get state money (for the project), you’ve got to rebid those contracts. So they did and the price came down $300 million.

“Gov. McAuliffe won’t force the rebidding of guaranteed union contracts and Gov. Cuccinelli will,” he said.

In their analysis of Cuccinelli’s comments on an issue we’ve covered quite a bit, Politifact notes some flaws:

Now, let’s return to Cuccinelli’s claim that after the agreement was dropped, Phase 2 was rebid and taxpayers saved $300 million. Cuccinelli’s campaign defended the claim by sending us a May 2013 news release from the MWAA announcing its awarding of a construction contract for roughly half of the work in Phase 2.

But there has been no rebidding in Phase 2, according to Transportation Secretary Sean Connaughton, so any savings from eliminating the union agreement is conjecture.

The MWAA originally estimated that the contract it put out this spring would come in at between $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion, but Capital Rail Constructors submitted a winning bid of $1.18 billion. That’s the basis of the savings Cuccinelli claims: A range of $222 million to $422 million compared to the original estimates.

The VA governor’s race is one of the most closely watched in the nation, and one of the most hotly contested with current polling showing McCaulife with a slight lead. Cuccinelli is trying to hit the root of Virginia’s “Right-to-Work” nature and tie the Democrat to unions.  Earlier in the campaign he tried to paint McCaulife as opposed to “Right-to-Work”, which Politifact rated as false though we hope it’s the case.

Virginia has very low union density, 4.4 percent in 2012, so Cuccinelli’s attempts to paint his opponent as a union crony are fueling the notion among his base that the Republican is out of touch with the issues facing the Commonwealth.  Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis has been gaining steam in the race despite his lack of funding.  He, too, has attacked Cuccinelli saying, “Cuccinelli is too extreme on personal issues and not transparent on economic issues.”

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