WAKEFIELD, VA (WTVR) — It is an annual political tradition in Virginia – the Wakefield Ruritan’s Shad Plank.
For the 65th time, politicians joined residents of this rural community to enjoy freshly caught shad cooked on a plank while talking about upcoming campaigns.
During gubernatorial election years the event is traditionally attended by both Democrat and Republican candidates.
But this year, only Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (the presumptive Republican nominee for Governor) was in attendance. Presumptive Democrat Nominee Terry McAuliffe elected to skip the event even though he was invited and attended four years ago.
“It is his loss,” Dr. Stan Brantley, the Masters of Ceremonies for the event, told CBS 6 political reporter Joe St. George.
“I don’t think any one in recent years has been elected to be governor without speaking here,” Brantley added.
While the crowd was overwhelmingly conservative this year, Brantley stressed it is a bipartisan event with all the money raised going back into the community.
Cuccinelli ripped his Democrat opponent for not attending.
“Back in 2009 there was just as many Terry McAuliffe signs as there were blades of grass,” Cuccinelli said during his speech.
The McAuliffe campaign elected to visit community colleges in Williamsburg Wednesday instead.
“Terry is spending the day visiting community colleges hearing about how workforce training helps diversify the economy and make Virginia the best place for business,” Schwerin, a spokesman, said.
Democrat State Delegate Roslyn Tyler was the lone Democrat politician in the crowd saying that McAuliffe’s absence will not cost him votes.
“If Terry is not here believe me he has some bigger things to do,” Tyler said.
Regardless of whether the candidates for governor ate shad fish Wednesday or not, both men remain centered in controversy.
Ken Cuccinelli is facing criticism over buying stock in a company known as Star Scientific months after that company sued the state of Virginia as the Washington Post reported.
“Was this a conflict of interest?,” CBS 6 asked Cuccinelli.
“No and the Washington Post also reported that it appeared I didn’t do anything wrong,” Cuccinelli said.
McAuliffe is battling controversy over his relationship with Green Tech, a company he formerly served as Chairman.
That company built its car plant in Mississippi and not in Virginia.
“Look I tried, it didn’t work out, what folks want to know is how I can grow the economy,” McAuliffe told St. George in a recent interview.
Regardless of the controversy, it is not just Shad Season in Virginia – it is political season too.
To watch the full Cuccinelli Press Conference at the Shad Plank click below. CBS 6 was the only TV crew at the event.