Ken Cuccinelli’s bumpy gubernatorial campaign came to an equally bumpy ending last night at the Marriott Hotel in downtown Richmond.
When it became clear the race had slipped from the Republican’s grasp to be won by his Democratic rival, Terry McAuliffe, the throngs of supporters in the ballroom grew quiet. In the lull, chaos erupted.
About a dozen people calling for immigration reform rushed the stage before being pulled down by Richmond Police officers. They were escorted out to Fifth Street, where they briefly gathered in the middle of the road, chanting “si se puede” -- yes, we can.
The group, CASA in Action, is a largely Maryland-based immigration reform organization that offers services to about 40,000 people. Group member Eduardo Zelaya, who earlier gave his name as Eduardo Zrey, said he had planned for weeks to disrupt the Cuccinelli election party.
“We got their attention,” he said. “That was the point.”
“It’s garbage,” Cuccinelli supporter Paul Allen said, standing in the ballroom with a CASA in Action flier crumpled in his hand. “We’ll take our thumping, you don’t need to rub it in.”
That wasn’t the last of the evening’s disruptions. Just before Cuccinelli took the stage, one of his supporters directed police to a group of five women who stood out in the crowd. The supporter appeared convinced that the women, with their short haircuts and thrift-store chic, were up to something.
Apparently the police did, too. They escorted the group out.
“Are you guys Code Pink?” the woman called out and then followed the group into the hall, where she chastised them for crashing a private event.
“I pray that one day you’ll come to Christ,” she said. One of the women in the group asked why she wanted them to leave.
“I know what your plans are,” the supporter responded.
One of the women in the group was, in fact, Lacey Landry, of the anti-Cuccinelli group Cooch Watch. Landry said she was disappointed she was singled out, wanting to see the rest of the night unfold. She said the group had no plans to disrupt the event.
“It’s a historic speech,” Landry said.
As the women were interrogated, three men in suits asked what the trouble was. Seeing the police officer, one came clean.
"We're not Republicans," he said. They thought it would be funny to try to blend in. They maintained cover for the rest of the night.
Inside, Republican GOP Chairman Pat Mullins blasted the Democratic campaign as “the dirtiest, most divisive, most despicable.” He called it a setup for a 2016 Hillary Clinton presidential run. John Wallmeyer, a supporter wearing a tri-corner hat, declared Virginia a mother state whose agenda needs to remain strictly aligned with the Constitution and then disappeared into the crowd, ringing a bell.
And, finally, Cuccinelli took the stage to thank his supporters.
“I still believe that the greatest resource we have in Virginia is Virginians,” Cuccinelli said. “No election can change that.”