I missed it last week, but Democratic fundraiser extraordinaire and candidate for Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe finally came out with a firm position on whether or not he supports the Obama administration’s artfully spun approach to slowly but surely eliminating the coal industry, and, drumroll please — he does. McAuliffe’s willing flip-floppiness on energy issues isn’t exactly a secret, but having said in the 2009 gubernatorial race that he “never wants another coal plant built” in Virginia, he stayed noticeably mum about the EPA’s de facto ban on new coal plants when the administration released them last month. No more, via WaPo:

Terry McAuliffe said Tuesday that he supports new Environmental Protection Agency rules on carbon emissions, taking a clear stance for the first time on an issue that has become a key flashpoint in the Virginia governor’s race. …

Asked about the issue again Tuesday during a tour of the Tyson’s Corner technology firm MicroTech, McAuliffe initially avoided a clear position again, saying: “I think we have to look at when the permits [for new coal plants] come in and look at how it applies and what the regulations are.”

When a reporter pressed McAuliffe on whether he supports the guidelines “as they are written right now,” McAuliffe responded: “I do, you bet. What I’ve looked at, I support what we need to do to obviously protect our air and our water.”

I can’t say I’m surprised. Whether his campaign took the time to do some internal polling or messaging strategery, or at the very least to wait for an opportune moment during which they could sneak the announcement through under the radar (oh hey, federal shutdown!), I would suspect that the administration’s anti-coal plans actually don’t play too badly with the oh-so-moderate and self-fancied eco-friendly denizens of the heavily populous and purplish-blueish Northern Virginia region (and the commonwealth’s less populous southwestern coal-country region may very well have already been inclined to go for Cuccinelli either way).

Regardless, the Cuccinelli campaign is running with it as another of Terry McAuliffe’s damaging economic prescriptions for Virginia; here’s a peak from his statement on the matter last week:

“How is it even possible that a person running to be Virginia’s chief executive would come out in support of a policy that will put our Commonwealth at a competitive disadvantage and put men and women – particularly in Southwest Virginia – out of work? As I have said repeatedly in recent months, the War on Coal is a war on Virginia’s poor and a war on competitiveness for Virginia. At a time of continued economic uncertainty, leaders in Richmond need to give our job creators and families more tools to pursue economic opportunity, not more burdens.

And they’re out with a new ad for the week hammering home the topic, but I don’t know if it will prove to be a needle-mover: