Updated 10/1/2013 at 1:36pm
(CNN) - The federal government shutdown is playing out immediately on the campaign trail.
In Virginia, which holds a gubernatorial election in five weeks, the campaigns of Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and businessman and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe are both trying to use the shutdown, which began at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, to their advantage.
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"As our nation is on the brink, Ken Cuccinelli’s silence has made it clear that he fully supports his extreme Tea Party allies' efforts to shut down the government in an effort to advance their own ideological agenda," said McAuliffe spokesperson Josh Schwerin, in an email blasted to reporters Monday evening.
And the campaign put out a web video that describes how 150,000 Virginians could be furloughed and then showcases a clip of McAuliffe saying, "Ken Cuccinelli needs to explain why he will not speak out to protect Virginia's jobs."
Cuccinelli was elected in 2009 with the strong support of tea party activists and he's become a darling of the grassroots conservative moment, which is fueling support for the push by GOP lawmakers in the House to defund or dismantle the new health care law. That drive, and the pushback by Senate Democrats and President Obama, led to the political game of chicken that resulted in the shutdown of the federal government.
The Cuccinelli campaign went up Tuesday with digital ads intended to reach federal workers who live in Northern Virginia. The ads drive towards a campaign video that the campaign says exposes McAuliffe for "threatening multiple times to shut down Virginia's government if the state lawmakers don't expand Medicaid."
An email release from the Cuccinelli campaign also says "McAuliffe will side 'with Democrats who refuse to bargin' in the federal shutdown fight."
The most recent public opinion polls indicate McAuliffe with a single digit advantage over Cuccinelli in the November gubernatorial election.
The winner will succeed lame duck GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell, who on Monday pushed back at Republican lawmakers in Washington.
"It's just not a good idea," McDonnell said during a press conference in Richmond.
"The primary solution is democracy. It's called the ballot box. That's how you resolve these issues. You don't shut down government and have the people that depend on government suffer because that's really what will happen," added McDonnell, according to press reports.
Virginia and New Jersey are the only two states to hold gubernatorial elections in the year following a presidential contest, and the campaign in the Commonwealth, a highly contested purple state, is considered by many to be a barometer of what may unfold in the 2014 and 2016 elections.
In New Jersey, where a special U.S. Senate election is just two weeks away, the campaign of Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the Democratic nominee, uses a clip of GOP Republican nominee Steve Lonegan saying "yeah, I'm a right wing radical." The spot, which the Booker campaign says will run in the New York City, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City, also says Lonegan favors shutting down the government.
Polls indicate that Booker holds a double digit lead over Lonegan, the former mayor of the northern New Jersey town of Bogota. The winner of the October 16 contest will fill the remainder of the term of the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg.