Terry McAuliffe for Governor of Virginia?
by Bob Brigham, Sun Nov 23, 2008 at 04:00:13 PM EST
Terry McAuliffe (AKA "The Macker""T-Mac") has, for quite a while, been shopping around for a place to spend his substantial fortune trying for a gubernatorial seat. He's wanted to be a governor so much that he's appeared quite flexible as to the name of the state that would follow "Governor of" on his business cards. In fact, now he's up for the name of a commonwealth gracing his campaign letterhead.
Following the election, McAuliffe filed papers to run for Governor of Virginia (there is no mechanism for an exploratory committee so this was necessary for McAuliffe to start raising -- and spreading around -- the big, big bucks). His plan has been to officially announce on January 7th, the day the Commonwealth will be mourning the 400th Anniversary of the first structure fire in the new world, a conflagration that destroyed almost all of Jamestown.
But before getting into the nitty gritty of the marquee 2009 Virgiana Gubernatorial race, it is important to look at the McAuliffe Gubernatorial campaigns that weren't:
Potential opponents dismiss him as a cynical Daddy Warbucks who has long plotted to buy himself a governorship -- claiming he even mulled runs in his native New York and Florida, where his wife's family lives.
What went wrong with Terry McAuliffe running for Governor of his first two choices?
Despite some questionable real estate transactions outside Orlando (where "The Macker" either scored $2.4 million off of no investment or $2.45 million off of a $100 investment), McAuliffe dangled his toes in the water when it came to running for Governor of Florida. The only problem was, Florida expected a chief executive that, you know, actually lived there:
McAuliffe gave his enemies serious ammunition in 2005, when his spokesman was asked about a report that he was mulling a run against then-Gov. Jeb Bush. The flack shot down the report, citing Florida's seven-year residency requirements -- not McAuliffe's undying love for Virginia.
"He's incredibly flattered, but he will not be a candidate for '06," DNC spokesman Tony Welch told The Miami Herald at the time. "He's intrigued by the idea, but the residency requirement is what it is."
To be fair, apparently the constitutional requirement wasn't common knowledge among gubernatorial hopefuls as Lawton "Bud" Chiles was also thinking of carrying on the family tradition until he read in the newspaper about McAuliffe not being able to run and realized the rule applied to him also.
Florida had long been on McAuliffe's mind. As DNC Chair in 2002 he promised, "Jeb Bush is gone" (he was actually re-elected in a 13 point stomping).
And Florida was still on his mind last week, as was linked all the way to Miami, Not Larry Sabatobusted Terry McAuliffe forgetting he is running for Governor of Virginia, not Florida.
If not Florida, then...
McAuliffe's home state of New York would have allowed him to move into the state and quickly establish the residency requirements. In fact, he knew the routine well, as McAuliffe had offered up seven figures so that Hillary Clinton could establish New York residency for her senate run.
Unfortunately, there were problems with running for Governor of New York also. When he blew the 2002 Florida gubernatorial race despite his promise, at least he appeared like he was trying to win. Not quite the same in New York, where McAuliffe knee-capped the Democratic nominee while DNC Chair to the reporters of the largest paper in the state:
''I've got to put the resources where we can win elections,'' Mr. McAuliffe said at a lunch with reporters and editors of The New York Times.
The comments could not have come on a worse day for Mr. McCall, who was hoping to jump-start his campaign today by enlisting the support of Bill Clinton, one of Mr. McAuliffe's closest friends.
This afternoon, the former president appeared with Mr. McCall at a rally in Washington Heights, and later was host at a fund-raising dinner.
Mr. McCall no doubt wanted the campaign message of the day -- not to mention the television news -- to show a campaign energized and enlivened by the famed Clinton charisma. Instead, he was publicly undercut by the very man Mr. Clinton handpicked to lead the National Democratic Party.
As you can imagine, not the best way to build up goodwill among the Democrats necessary for a primary campaign. If not New York, then...
After being rejected by Florida and New York, McAuliffe started his gubernatorial outreach:
McAuliffe spoke at the Albemarle County Democratic BBQ a couple of months ago. While he was up on stage, I was talking to a friend about him. My friend, David, was enthusiastic about McAuliffe's candidacy. He'd talked with McAuliffe at the JJ Dinner, and David was enthusiastic about McAuliffe's experience and energy. A little surprised, I asked if perhaps McAuliffe's total lack of involvement with Virginia at any point in his career wasn't a disqualifier. David looked confused. "Virginia?" he asked. "I thought he was running for governor of New York."
He won't be supporting McAuliffe for governor.
And that is pretty much where things stand now. As the Virginian-Pilot noted:
The National Democrats' Schmoozer in Chief is keeping Virginia atwitter with speculation that he may run for governor. But the idea of a Gov. Terry McAuliffe is jarring for the Old Dominion's old-timers.
Could the consummate name-dropper refrain from lacing his State of the Commonwealth addresses with anecdotes about his golf games with Bill Clinton, hunting trips with King Juan Carlos of Spain, bowling matches with Ben Affleck or sun-worshipping vacations with Julio Iglesias?
He's toyed with gubernatorial runs in New York and Florida. If he's dead set on running a state, perhaps he should reconsider those options. He'd probably fit in better on Broadway than he would in downtown Suffolk.
In the end, this whole saga kinda seems like some silly teen-movie with the geeky lead character getting turned down for a prom date everywhere he goes until finally settling for whatever he can get. But can he even get Virginia? At this point, he has a very distant shot of buying the Democratic Primary. But as for the fall, he'd be in worse shape than the Florida and New York nominees were in 2002 with McAuliffe running the DNC.