There are cheaper ways to find a house in Richmond than by mounting a multimillion-dollar gubernatorial campaign. But that's precisely what Terry McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman and Bill-and-Hillary foot soldier, looks poised to do.
McAuliffe has taken the 2008 presidential race as an opportunity to reintroduce himself to his home state. He is rumored to be weighing a gubernatorial run next year, joining the already crowded Democratic primary field.
“I think that he's been very impressive in his stump speeches,” says State Sen. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico. “I imagine that he has the skill set to be a viable candidate in '09.”
McAuliffe spoke to Virginia Commonwealth University students at a watch party Oct. 8, the night of the second presidential debate. He declined to say whether or not he planned to run for governor next year, but refused to rule it out.
The idea of a national party figure throwing his hat in the Virginia nomination pool has met with a chilly reception in some corners. McAuliffe flirted with a 2005 bid for governor of Florida before the fact that he did not live in the state ended his bid.
If he jumps in the Virginia race he'll become a third wheel in the long-stewing contest between Alexandria Delegate Brian Moran, the House Democratic caucus chairman, and Creigh Deeds of Bath County, who lost by 323 votes to Attorney General Bob McDonnell in 2005. McDonnell has announced his intention to run for the Republican nomination for governor in 2009.
“People in Northern Virginia and around the state have said that they want someone like Mark Warner or Tim Kaine with a record of service,” says Moran spokesman Jesse Ferguson, “and we're confident that's not going to change.”
McAuliffe has hired Mo Elleithee, a former spokesman for U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-New York, and is rumored to be in talks with fundraiser Matt Felan, another former Clinton staffer who raised money for Richmond Mayoral Candidate Dwight C. Jones.