Tag Archives: mcauliffe

Neither Cuccinelli nor McAuliffe can win. And yet one of them must.

When a candidate is described as “divisive,” generally it’s intended to mean that while his own party loves him, the other party can’t stand him. In what’s shaping up to be a race between Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli for the Virginia governorship, there are two wildly divisive candidates who are perhaps more divisive within their own parties than outside of it.

Four years ago, McAuliffe came in a distant second in a three-man race for the nomination for governor (despite raising $8M), won no geographic portion of Virginia, and endeared himself to nobody in the process. He’s never been elected to public office and has no constituency. The percentage of Democrats who would definitely not vote for him exceeds the percentage who would vote for him. That’s not in the primary—that’s in the general election. McAuliffe is a Clinton-era Democrat, the sort of old-school Democrat accustomed to winning elections by sucking up to power brokers, the sort who was purged from positions of power in the party round about 2005. It’s his turn to run for office, you see. He’s a glad-hander (it’s always “good to see you,” never “good to meet you”), always ready with the grip-and-grin. His performance at the 2009 Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner really said it all.

And the Bill Clinton thing. Good Lord, the Bill Clinton thing. Guess who McAuliffe just got off the phone with? Guess who he just played golf with? You know who told him the funniest thing the other day? McAuliffe cannot stop mentioning Clinton because it’s all he’s got. Terry McAuliffe : Bill Clinton :: Marge Simpson : Chanel suit.

McAuliffe’s business bona fides aren’t much better. Global Crossing. (Need I say more?) His current business, Greentech Automotive, recently established an auto plant…in Mississippi. Despite that McAuliffe knew full well that he’d be running for governor of Virginia, touting his business experience on a platform of creating jobs. (“The main reason Terry is running for Governor is to make it easier for companies to create jobs right here in Virginia,” says his spokesman.) Why didn’t he build the plant in Virginia? Oh, it’s not his fault—it’s the fault of Virginia Economic Development Partnership! “It was their decision,” McAuliffe spinelessly informed The Note. How was the location of his factory a decision of tiny state agency? They wouldn’t pay him enough to locate his plant in Virginia. Yes, McAuliffe believes that states should bid for businesses (an economic loser just about every time), even his own business, not by creating environments conducive to running businesses and recruiting employees, but by just offering cash. This, of course, is why this company was located in Hong Kong when he bought it—in a globalized economy, a lowest-bidder approach will leave manufacturing out of the U.S. permanently. Mississippi, you see, is the U.S.’s version of a third-world country. Perhaps McAuliffe will be running on a platform of making Virginia more like Mississippi? In their defense, VEDP says that McAuliffe never even completed their application. McAuliffe shopped around for a state in which to open a factory the same way that he shopped around for a state in which to run for governor. Virginia’s apparently great for running for governor, but not so great for building “cars” that are legally identical to golf carts.

Not one Democrat in a hundred is excited about McAuliffe. Democrats are fired up about him the same way that Republicans were fired up about Mitt Romney. The base will fake it through November and, if he loses, they’ll all say how they never really liked him in the first place. If he wins, of course, they always believed in him!

Then there’s Ken Cuccinelli. Christ, what an asshole. “Extremist” has seldom been a more suitable word to describe a candidate. He supports a no-exceptions ban on abortion, opposes homosexuality (period), thinks Virginia needs Arizona-style anti-immigration laws, believes that global climate change is a conspiracy theory, and thinks that President Obama didn’t really win reelection last month. He has 95% of the traits that have been laying waste to the Republican Party in recent years, save one—he’s not dumb. In fact, he’s an intelligent guy, and a too-common mistake made by Democrats is to believe that just because he professes wildly retrograde, utterly contra-factual beliefs, that he must be a fool. He is not. (This is in sharp contrast with Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, Michele Bachmann, etc., who, even collectively, are dumber than a sack of hammers.) Unlike McAuliffe, he actually has a base, and he’s been elected to office repeatedly. He represented Fairfax in the General Assembly for two terms and, of course, successfully ran for attorney general. While McAuliffe is a generic sort of a centrist-ish Democrat who is hobbled by a terrible personality and the perception that he’s a carpetbagger, Cuccinelli is hobbled by holding views that are wildly out of step with Virginians, Americans, and the facts. I’d guess about 20% of the electorate probably adores him, but far more deplore him (or will, come next October).

Cuccinelli is the sort of social conservative that’s driving a wedge into the Republican Party. Regular ol’ fiscally conservative Republicans have tolerated allowing this type into the tent so long as they’ve furthered the same collective goals, but it’s started to get embarrassing (e.g., the Tea Party). Those regular Republicans were victorious in the nomination process for the presidency this year, allowing Romney to defeat a field that consisted largely of crazies, but after Romney’s loss, it’s not clear which side will be running the party soon. Dick Armey’s departure from FreedomWorks (one of the the Koch-funded companies that created and bankroll the Tea Party) is the latest evidence that the conservative power brokers have lost control over their own creations—the inmates are running the asylum. Cuccinelli is proudly on the inmates’ side of the fence, and unless he’s prepared to tamp down that image, he’s going to have a tough time getting support from the kind of Republicans who supported Mark Warner over Jim Gilmore. This, of course, is why Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is flirting with running as an independent. His is the wing of the party that thinks that the grassroots need to be trimmed back (to abuse a metaphor), the wing that Cuccinelli is going to have a tough time wooing, and a tougher time still if Bolling gets into the race.

Power-brokers on both sides are pooh-poohing talk of primary challengers and third-party candidacies. When former congressman Tom Perriello demurred a few days ago, that was the prompt for Democrats to declare that it’s time to get behind McAuliffe as our candidate. This has not been greeted with enthusiasm.

All of this reminds me of the Republican presidential nomination process in 2008 and 2012. Reviewing every candidate, there was a clear and obvious argument to be made as to why they couldn’t possibly win the nomination. And yet somebody had to win and, indeed, somebody did. Neither Cuccinelli nor McAuliffe can possibly win a gubernatorial election. And yet—unless somebody else enters the race—one of them will.

This is the worst kind of election, the kind in which a supermajority of the voters in each party have to support not their preferred candidate, but the one whom they loathe the least. (To be fair, this is how some voters feel about every election.) That may be what makes it such an ideal race for a solid third-party candidate like Bolling to take a run at election. Russ Potts’ 2005 gubernatorial candidacy was a threat to Republican nominee Jerry Kilgore, but there was never any danger of him winning the election. Republicans were OK with Kilgore, and Democrats liked Tim Kaine. Things are different this time. If Bolling can trim his sails a bit (he is a conservative Republican after all), he can take votes from both candidates, money from both sides, and I think it’s entirely possible for him to win. At least, then, it’ll be possible for somebody to win.

Election stats.

VPAP is doing some fun stuff with election data now, particularly this map of winners by municipality. This state is just a sea of Creigh Deeds, from north to south, east to west, with only four islands of McAuliffe and four islands of Moran. Democrats have a nominee with a tremendous geographic base of support.

And Lowell Feld ran the numbers on how much candidates spent per vote, and found that Sen. Deeds did absolute wonders with his budget, spending just 21% as much per vote as McAuliffe and 36% as much per vote as Moran. Fiscal conservatism starts with your campaign. If this kind of thing interests you, see my 2006 graph of the historical cost per vote in Virginia gubernatorial elections from 1965-2005.

SUSA: Deeds is crushing McAuliffe and Moran.

SUSA has Sen. Deeds up by basically the same margins as yesterday’s PPP poll, confirming their results. SUSA gives him 42%, McAuliffe a distant second at 30%, and poor Brian Moran with half of Deeds’ support, at 21%. At this point, Creigh Deeds would have to kill, skin, gut, cook, and eat a live puppy on video in order to lose this race, and even then I’m not sure that there’s time for McAuliffe and Moran to get the word out about it. Upstate he’s tripled his support (to 40%), non-gun-owners have also tripled their support (to 42%), women have tripled their support (to 40%), regular churchgoers have doubled their support (to 44%)…you name it, they’re not just breaking for Deeds, they’re overwhelmingly supporting him.

I’m waiting for a SUSA poll of the McAuliffe household—Deeds is probably up to 40% there.

Suffolk U. poll is a love letter to Deeds from VA Democrats.

Suffolk University’s new poll is like a big, wet kiss on Creigh Deeds’ cheek. He’s 7% ahead of Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe (who are tied at 20%), but the real action comes in the questions about who has the most experience, who can deal with transportation problems, who has the best leadership skills, etc. Deeds comes out on top in all but one (he’s 1% behind McAuliffe in “Who will be the strongest opponent to face Republican Bob McDonnell?”), putting him in an awfully strong position these five days before the election. Moran and McAuliffe are dragging each other down, fighting over the same primary votes, leaving Deeds to calmly collect a plurality from the rest of the state…like I said.

Burning my nonexistent Terry McAuliffe bridge.

Here’s the thing about Terry McAuliffe: I don’t like him. At all.

Whether the man were a Democrat or a Republican I wouldn’t like him. I don’t trust him. I don’t believe that his motives are good. I think that he’s the opposite of what the Democratic Party needs, and I think he’s wrong for Virginia.* The DNC did terribly under his tenure. He’s never done anything for Virginia—and I’m not talking politically, although that’s clearly the case, too. He had to decide which state he was going to run for governor in—Florida or New York—and apparently found that the bar to running Virginia was the lowest. He’s routinely made an ass of himself on national television. He’s apparently willing to promise anything to anybody, regardless of whether it’s politically tenable, because that’s what people like to hear. (Norm Leahy provides a good example of this.) The man keeps his mouth moving long after his brain has disengaged.

I defy you to make it through this whole lowlights clip that Talking Points Memo put together without cringing at the thought of “Gov. Terry McAuliffe”:

There’s really nothing about McAuliffe’s candidacy that I like. That he’s made it this far boggles the mind. That he’s leading the polls makes me fear for the sanity of the populace.

It’s particularly stunning to me that some of my friends are supporting McAuliffe, and would like me to do likewise. It’s as if they’ve discovered Scientology, and are trying to recruit me. If you’d just go to an auditor, I could get you right with Xenu, I just know I could! It’s totally incomprehensible to me. Maybe there’s a form of Toxoplasmosis native to McAuliffe?

Brian Moran I like. Creigh Deeds I like a lot. There are a bunch of reasons why I think Deeds would do better in the general election than Moran, and I won’t belabor those, but the point is that I’d be proud to have either of them as the Democratic nominee, and I could get behind either one of them. The point here is that I’m not demonizing McAuliffe as a political opponent. I genuinely think he’s an ass. Because he is.

Vote for Creigh Deeds. Failing that, vote for Brian Moran. Failing that, don’t vote. Instead, consider Scientology.

* Understand, I’d still take the guy over Bob McDonnell. McAuliffe is a opportunistic hustler, while McDonnell is an opportunistic hypocrite who would lead Virginia backwards a good couple of decades. But it’s a lousy choice.

McAuliffe asks us to “think of the children.”

The AP’s Bob Lewis inquired as to how much that Terry McAuliffe is worth, in light of his Global Crossing investment. McAuliffe’s response is a strange one:

McAuliffe won’t disclose his net worth, citing concern for his children

I don’t even know what that means. Is he seriously claiming that, if people knew precisely how rich he is, his children could be targets of kidnapping? I mean, once your net worth is in the millions and you’re a candidate for governor, does it really matter how many extra zeros there are if a bad guy’s got his eye on you? Or am I just misunderstanding him here?

The Washington Post has endorsed Creigh Deeds for governor!

Creigh DeedsI’m stunned and very impressed: The Washington Post has endorsed Creigh Deeds for governor. In a long, detailed editorial running in tomorrow’s issue, they spell out why “Mr. Deeds may not be the obvious choice in the June 9 primary, but he’s the right one.” He’s “politically astute,” “in a unique position to persuade rural legislators,” “has a solid record of promoting green jobs, land conservation and alternative energy research,” and “understands Northern Virginia.” The editorial board repeatedly points out that he has a record of doing the things that Brian Moran and Terry McAuliffe promise to do, which there’s a lot to be said for, concluding that “he has the character, experience and savvy to be a successful leader of the entire commonwealth.” They appear to share my distaste for McAuliffe, and likewise share my belief that Moran isn’t a bad guy, but he’s no Creigh Deeds.

These are a few of my favorite bits:

Some progressive voters may look past Mr. Deeds, assuming he’s too far to the right on social issues. They should look again.

Democratic voters may wonder: How can Mr. Deeds beat presumptive Republican nominee Robert F. McDonnell, who beat Mr. Deeds in the attorney general’s race four years ago? The answer: Mr. Deeds lost by a scant 323 votes out of roughly 2 million cast despite being outspent 2 to 1.

In 18 years in the General Assembly, Mr. Deeds has time and again supported measures that might be unpopular with his rural constituency but that are the right thing to do, for Northern Virginia and the state as a whole. He has demonstrated an understanding of the problems that matter most, the commitment to solve them and the capacity to get things done.

As the two DC-area candidates, this is a huge blow to McAuliffe and Moran. Honestly, it never crossed my mind that the Post would be able to look past upstate to endorse anybody other than these Beltway candidates. More than anything else, I think this speaks to Sen. Deeds’ strong qualifications for the nomination and for the job of governor. I’m just so glad that the Post sees him the same way.

SUSA numbers show why McAuliffe would be such a poor nominee.

The latest SUSA poll in the governor’s race is bad, bad news for Democrats. It’s the realization of my fear about how we Democrats—by way of Terry McAuliffe—could screw up a sure thing.

By way of background, I wrote in December of 2007 that urban Democrats’ power is in danger of outstripping their pragmatism:

As wealthy, urban districts and their representatives gain influence, they’ll come to play a disproportionate role in the selection and election of our statewide candidates. We’ll witness this very battle take place between now and 2009, when Sen. Creigh Deeds and Del. Brian Moran face off for the Democratic nomination for governor. I believe that Sen. Deeds is eminently more electable, by virtue of his being much closer to the center than Del. Moran. But it’s that very trait that may prevent him from being nominated, if the center of Democratic power in Virginia lies as far north as I suspect that it does.

When word of McAullife’s candidacy emerged, I explained that McAuliffe is precisely the sort of candidate that I fear. He can get nominated, but he can’t get elected.

That’s what we see in this Survey USA poll. Among 409 likely primary voters (a too-small sample size, admittedly), McAuliffe has 38% to Deeds’ and Moran’s 22%, with just 18% undecided. That’s a huge split. But among 1,396 likely voters of both parties, McAuliffe is seven points behind Republican Bob McDonnell. Moran is twelve points behind. And Deeds is in the best shape, with a five point deficit. The two percentage difference between Deeds and McAuliffe isn’t hair-splitting—McAuliffe has huge negative ratings, twice those of Moran and two and a half times those of Deeds. A third of the electorate simply doesn’t like Terry McAuliffe, and I can speak from experience that it ain’t entirely Republicans. McAuliffe will have a hell of a time making up that seven-point gap.

The pisser is that it’s Bob McDonnell. The guy is rushing to the left faster than Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling cuddled up to Tim Kaine in 2006. He’s a far-right Republican who has suddenly started pretending to be a centrist, with fractured support from a state party that is on the verge of collapse, and who is a member of a national party whose name is mud right now. This should be a cakewalk. McDonnell has enjoyed the exposure that comes of being attorney general, so it’s natural that he’d have higher name recognition and higher favorables at this point. That doesn’t worry me.

What worries me is that Virginia Democrats are preparing to nominate a candidate who much of the electorate dislikes intensely and who appears to have the smallest chance of winning the general election of all of the Democrats. We’re employing the same logic as Republicans who think Sarah Palin should run for president. I’m sure it’s awfully satisfying to support somebody you like so much. But at what cost?