As any longtime reader of this column well knows, we have an inordinate amount of affection for Terry “the Macker” McAuliffe, the Democratic party operative legendary for his fundraising prowess and appetite for political theater. You may abhor his politics, but McAuliffe is one of those outsized personalities who manages to make the process fun, even when headed for sure defeat (this is, after all, the guy who secured a $15,000 contribution to Jimmy Carter’s 1980 re-election campaign by agreeing to wrestle an alligator).
Virginia Democratic operative Terry McAuliffe, “the guy who secured a $15,000 contribution to Jimmy Carter’s 1980 re-election campaign by agreeing to wrestle an alligator.”
So it goes without saying that the Macker’s continued presence in Virginia’s political scene fills us with no small amount of joy. Sure, he might have had his well-coiffed head handed to him by Creigh Deeds in the 2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary, but that humiliating loss seems to have done nothing to diminish his boyish enthusiasm.
Stung by accusations of egregious carpetbagging in 2009, the McLean-by-way-of-Syracuse, New York, native has been hustling over the past few years to up his Old Dominion bona fides. Both as a businessman and a politician, McAuliffe has been working assiduously to win over Virginia’s voters. On the business front, he has tried to reinvent himself as a “green jobs” impresario, promoting projects like the conversion of the shuttered Franklin International Paper factory into a renewable-energy plant. On the political front, McAuliffe has been a whirling dervish of party building, crisscrossing the Commonwealth to speak at events for Virginia Senate, House, and even Fairfax County Board of Supervisors candidates. More importantly, he’s putting his money where his mouth is, and will be hosting a fundraiser for the Senate Democratic Caucus next month.
Of course, if and when the Macker announces a run, he certainly won’t be alone. But with Creigh Deeds still nursing his wounds from the whuppin’ Bob McDonnell gave him, and Brian Moran (McAuliffe’s other 2009 primary opponent) happily serving as the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, there doesn’t seem to be another donkey big enough to beat him.
What about the pachyderms on the other side of the aisle, you say? Governor McDonnell’s approval rating is at a record high, and with the Republican Party of Virginia looking at almost certain House and Senate gains in this year’s elections, whomever the Dems anoint as their standard bearer has a tough row to hoe.
With McDonnell’s Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling having already formed a campaign committee, and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli strongly signaling a run, much will hinge on the results in November. If team red manages to retake the state senate, Bolling’s profile will get quite a boost. As the constitutional head of that body, he’ll gain an excellent platform for grandstanding.
But if we were betting types (and we are), we’d still lay our money on Cuccinelli for the Republican nomination. Beloved by Tea Party types everywhere—and with a growing national reputation—it seems likely that Cuccinelli’s sky-high support among rank-and-file Republicans will ultimately overcome any lingering doubts about his statewide electability.
Or so we hope. All politics aside, there is simply nothing that we would like better than a Cooch vs. Macker gubernatorial campaign. For drama-hungry pundits and ink-stained wretches everywhere, such an epic clash of political personalities would be manna from heaven (or at least delicious crumbs from the CNN Situation Room’s table).