As we get past next month's inauguration of Barack Obama, Virginia Democrats will begin turning their attention to our primary for Governor. I wasn't even born the last time we had a Democratic primary for Governor. (The only other contested race for Governor on the D side in my lifetime was a convention in 1985).
When voters start paying attention they have a tremendously entertaining race in front of them.
Last night, I attended a dinner with Terry McAuliffe to hear more about his campaign. Almost three hours later, I came away very impressed. The other two candidates for Governor have made a HUGE strategic error in questioning Terry's Virginia credentials. The bar is so low for Terry on knowing local issues that he could have jumped it with some minor prep work. Instead- he crushed that argument by being totally prepared to answer every issue that was discussed.
I've always liked Brian Moran. But if Terry is knowledgeable about Virginia issues, I am a little confused to what Brian's message is to win this primary. I don't think primary voters will respond to an insider message of "I know all the lobbyists and players in Richmond". Brian needs to step back over the holidays and really figure out why he is running. He's been running almost three years now, and I couldn't tell you one major vision he has for Virginia. I know he has them, but right now Brian is coming off tremendously scripted and he may only have a few weeks before this spirals out of control.
Meanwhile, Creigh Deeds and his supporters have been a little smug about Terry and Brian preparing to "split the NoVA vote" and dreaming of being nominated in a 34-33-33 primary. Not happening. Close three way primaries almost never split evenly- it will probably take at least 40% to win this election. Plus, Creigh's people talking about the splitting NoVA vote to hand them the nomination strikes me as an "Old Virginia" way of campaigning. Perhaps Creigh missed Mark Warner's slogan of "One Virginia"? Bob McDonnell is Attorney General today because Creigh finished behind both Kaine and Byrne in a number of precincts within his own Senate district in 2005.
That having been said, Creigh has a huge opportunity with Brian's resignation from the House of Delegates. Creigh can propose an ambitious legislative agenda, laying out what he would do as Governor, move it through the Democratic Senate and let the Republican House block it- getting all the media coverage during session and showing what a Deeds Governorship would look like.
Or he could sit around with all the Richmond lobbyists he interviewed for his campaign manager (before hiring Joe Abbey) and pretend like it is the old Virginia where they have influence and he will be the next Governor because the crazies in NoVA couldn't settle on one candidate. Yeah, Creigh, that will do it.