Virginia Attorney General and Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli skipped an invitation Thursday to meet with the state's largest teachers union to appear instead in front of an anti-abortion summit in Washington that's being organized by his largest campaign contributor.
Republican and Democratic gubernatorial candidates dating back to former Gov. George Allen two decades ago have spoken at the Virginia Education Association's candidate forum, where the organization weighs who to endorse. Democrat Terry McAuliffe spoke and took questions at Thursday's gathering in Hampton.
Cuccinelli passed on the teachers' group to attend the Susan B. Anthony Campaign for Life Gala and Summit. He joined Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, on a panel titled "Protecting the Conscience of Pro-Life Taxpayers." The Susan B. Anthony List has already committed $1.5 million to help Cuccinelli in this year's governor race against McAuliffe.
Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix wrote off the VEA event as a "labor boss soiree."
Cuccinelli's speech also came a day before the Virginia State Board of Health met to approve tough new regulations for abortion providers that the attorney general had a heavy hand in influencing. Susan B. Anthony List put out a call to supporters Thursday to speak at Friday's meeting and pressure the board to pass the new rules.
VEA President Meg Gruber said she was disappointed Cuccinelli skipped the forum.
"The VEA seeks the best candidate for Virginia's schoolchildren," Gruber said, "and we think everyone benefits when candidates state their views on public education formally and explicitly."