Former DNC chair considering run for governor in ’09

Terry McAuliffe for governor. Of Virginia. Seriously. And he knows what he’s talking about.
“What I’ve been doing is I’ve been going out and asking questions. Here are my ideas for where I’d like to see the Commonwealth go. What do you think? What are your ideas? Because as I’ve said from day one, I don’t think all the great ideas come out of Richmond,” McAuliffe said Monday night in Waynesboro – yes, Waynesboro, far removed from Northern Virginia, nowhere near the Golden Crescent, gauging interest among Democratic voters on a cold November night in the bright red Shenandoah Valley, going against convention in doing so.

The assumption among those in the know is that McAuliffe doesn’t know Virginia from Florida or California and is only talking about running for governor here because like longtime friend Hillary Clinton did a few years ago in running for the Senate in New York he sees a political opening in the Old Dominion waiting to be exploited. The reality, after seeing him work the room at Lynn’s Pancake and Steak House, is that, one, he knows what the issues facing state leaders are, and two, it won’t hurt him in the slightest that he hasn’t been around the past few years fiddling while the General Assembly has let the state’s road infrastructure crumble around it and not done a meaningful thing to address teacher pay, to cite just a couple of things that have been on the table in these parts for years and years.

“I have not been a legislator, so I would say there’s room for someone to come into this who hasn’t been in the legislature, who comes from a strong business background, who’s about creating jobs. There’s room for that type of person to be in the race. I sort of look at it like we have three legislators in the race, including Bob McDonnell, who was in the legislature, and is now attorney general. I’d be from the outside, and I think that’s what my campaign would all be about,” McAuliffe said.

Officially, McAuliffe is not yet a candidate for governor. He’s only exploring a possible run for the 2009 Democratic Party nomination, and with two candidates already actively running for the party nod, Bath County State Sen. Creigh Deeds and Northern Virginia State Del. Brian Moran, it’s far from being a given that McAuliffe, for all his name recognition and the expectation that he would be able to raise ungodly sums of money to bankroll a coordinated Democratic Party campaign the likes of which the Commonwealth has never seen, would even end up being the party standardbearer come next summer, much less be able to beat back the stiff challenge that McDonnell, the presumptive frontrunner for the GOP nomination, next November.

His backstory is more Mark Warner than the Clintons. A successful businessman, McAuliffe said his “main argument is, I can create jobs.” “You want more money for education, you want more money for roads, you’ve got to have revenue, you’ve got to grow the economy,” McAuliffe said. “The other thing that I argue is I have tremendous contacts around the country and around the world, and I want to use those contacts, relationships to convince people that if they want to come into this market, we have great folks here in Virginia, so bring your business, bring your plants here. We have the best educated workforce, we’ve got people ready to go,” McAuliffe said.

“We’ve had two great governors in Mark Warner and Tim Kaine. Thank goodness they have been there in these tough economic times,” McAuliffe said. “We’ve cut the budget to the absolute bone. Gov. Kaine is going to have to cut another billion and a half dollars. You can’t raise taxes – you don’t raise taxes in a bad economic time. So the only option we have is growing the economy. We’ve got to create jobs in Virginia. We’ve got to create jobs in all parts of Virginia,” McAuliffe said.

He talked about making Virginia “the capital of green-collar jobs,” invoking the call of Warner and President-elect Barack Obama to up the ante in public investments in the development of new energy technologies that McAuliffe feels the state’s colleges and universities could play a hand in bringing to fruition. And he promised more in the way of what he called “big, bold ideas.”

“About 15 years ago, I got very active in politics, and I’ve done politics as a full-time volunteer. I haven’t taken any pay for it. I do it because I believe in the Democratic Party,” McAuliffe said. “I believe in quality health care – everybody ought to have health care. We ought to have the best education system possible. And good, quality, high-paying jobs. That’s why I’ve fought for the party. And I believe down in Richmond they haven’t focused on people, that they’ve focused on what goes on in Richmond,” McAuliffe said.

 

Story by Chris Graham



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