Terry McAuliffe: GOP Slayer?
I had the opportunity to attend a town hall type of meeting for McAuliffe at UVA's Darden School of Business several weeks ago. It was billed as a true town hall style meeting, and not meant to be a cheerleading rally; so I thought I would see what he is all about...
Terry McAuliffe is the real deal.
In addition to his ability to fundraise (he is expected to raise $75 million in his bid for governor), I think he has a lot of ideas that will resonate with the general public. His main strengths are being an entrepreneur and having started 27 businesses. I see him taking the same route as Mark Warner and billing himself as the "friend of business". This will spell disaster for Republicans up and down the ballot if he wins the democratic nomination.
What will compound this problem is that McDonnell is an attorney and has no business experience (to my knowledge anyway). I will get into this issue further in a future post, but I think attorney gubernatorial candidates are going to continue to struggle in Virginia over the next few cycles.
If McAuliffe is able to raise the expected level of funds, that will spill over into the downticket and House races, as money will be poured into those races in expectation of a democratic takeover. They will also benefit from a superior turnout/grassroots operation driven by the fund advantage (much like what was seen in the Presidential race this past year).
Kilgore lost by 5 points and almost resulted in the GOP losing the LG and AG's races. A 7-10 point loss will ensure those races are lost in 2009. In addition, that size margin of victory would also equate to a blowout in many GOP held House districts; who will also have a very difficult time running but so far ahead of the ticket.
There is still hope for the GOP. I think a race against Moran or Deeds is winnable (although far from being assured), so the GOP can hope for that to occur. The other way to win is roll out a very ambitious reform message with specific problem solving initiatives. A plan to fix transportation would have to be the centerpiece of that message. Otherwise, I think the GOP is in a very perilous position.
Of course, we could just rest on our laurels on the hope that Virginia always votes for a governor of the opposite party that wins the White House.