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While the rest of us were busy shopping online this holiday season, Terry McAuliffe was being more productive.
The former governor was calling in favors, picking up endorsements in his bid to muscle out the competition in an effort to recapture the job he held from 2014 to 2018.
(The phrase “muscle out” is not, in our estimation, a pejorative. We appreciate bare-knuckle politics.)
We’re not sure whether McAuliffe hopped into the race because he didn’t get a good enough offer from the incoming Biden administration; because he is teeing up his own presidential bid for what will surely by a wide-open Democratic nomination process in 2024; or if he just misses his old gig.
And heck: All things considered, McAuliffe wasn’t a half-bad governor. (Although his 2013 battle against Republican Ken Cuccinelli reminded us of the probably apocryphal line attributed to a political pundit in the run-up to the 1960 presidential race between John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. “The good news,” the pundit supposedly said, “is that at least we don’t have to elect ’em both.”)
McAuliffe’s chief challenge in 2021, if he’s unable to elbow out the other Democratic aspirants for the top job in coming weeks, is (in the words of one with insights into such things) that he’s neither black enough nor green enough for today’s Democratic activists. Those activists certainly have some power, but in a primary, “brand” (past performance) will be key. So, too, will money – and McAuliffe knows how to raise it and spread it around.
The ball is now in the court of those other Democrats who have announced plans to seek the governorship. If they stay in, and if they really expect to grab the nomination rather than simply advance their own political name recognition for future runs, they’re going to have to figure out a strategy to overcome the advantages McAuliffe brings into the race.
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Our two-term attorney general, Mark Herring, recently confirmed he would be seeking four more years in office. Perhaps because he didn’t get “an offer he couldn’t refuse” from the Biden team. Or decided not to ask for one.
Herring probably is hoping name recognition carries him to victory in the Democratic nomination process against Del. Jay Jones of Norfolk.
Jones, not one to underestimate, is going to come at the incumbent from the left – an ironic twist, given that the Herring, who positioned himself as a sensible moderate when he first ran, has since consistently tacked left in an ever-desperate effort to keep up with the lurch of his party in that direction.
No good deed goes unpunished, it seems.