State of the VA Race

The four leading contenders to succeed Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine in next year's election appeared at their first forum yesterday in Richmond. Attorney General ...
by | December 3, 2008

VA gov The four leading contenders to succeed Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine in next year's election appeared at their first forum yesterday in Richmond.

Attorney General Robert McDonnell faces no opposition on the Republican side, so he was mostly able to sit back and watch the three Democrats have at each other, according to Anita Kumar of the Washington Post.

The Democratic nomination appears to be well worth winning. Kaine is state's second consecutive Democratic governor (Virginia is the only state left with a single-term limit), the party holds both U.S. Senate seats and the commonwealth went Democratic in the presidential race last month for the first time since LBJ.

By Kumar's account, Terry McAuliffe's entry into the race has spooked the other Democrats. McAuliffe is a former national party chair and has been a leading fundraiser and spokesman for the Clinton political machine. He presents himself as a Richmond outsider.

McAuliffe came prepared -- both to combat criticism and to exhibit his command of Virginia facts and figures.

He easily rattled off statistics about how many hours Virginians spend stuck in traffic each year, how many poultry farmers work in the state and how many people are unemployed in one of its most financially distressed cities, Martinsville.

In addition to criticizing McAuliffe, state Sen. Creigh Deeds, who narrowly lost to McDonnell in the 2005 AG race, and state Rep. Brian Moran, found things to criticize about each other.

For his part, McDonnell tried to demonstrate that he "gets" the GOP's current set of problems.

He said he will appeal to new voters, younger residents and minorities as a moderate who has worked on welfare reform and promoted Internet safety and drunken-driving laws.

"I'm not writing one single vote off here in Virginia,'' he said. "I'm going to run hard while these others guys are fighting for the next six and a half months."

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