McAuliffe’s travels hint of another bid for Va. governor

STUMPING?: Once and perhaps future Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe chats with Edna Frady at a Falls Church City Democratic Committee fundraising dinner earlier this month. (Drew Angerer/The Washington Times)STUMPING?: Once and perhaps future Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe chats with Edna Frady at a Falls Church City Democratic Committee fundraising dinner earlier this month. (Drew Angerer/The Washington Times)
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As Terry McAuliffe sprinted out of Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School on a sunny Saturday morning in March, a woman shouted after him, “Where are you running to?”

“Another speech,” responded the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, jogging toward his dark red Wrangler in the nearby parking garage. “Can’t get enough in, you know.”

Two years since Mr. McAuliffe’s quest for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination was thwarted by voters who viewed him as a carpetbagger out of touch with grass-roots Virginia, the multimillionaire entrepreneur who raised hundreds of millions of dollars for Bill Clinton’s presidential campaigns in the United States and his charitable efforts abroad is quietly mounting a second bid for the Democratic nomination for Virginia governor.

He is promising to create thousands of positions through green-energy ventures that could dovetail nicely with a 2013 campaign platform built on jobs and the environment.

When asked about the prospect of a second gubernatorial bid, Mr. McAuliffe told The Washington Times that running again is something he doesn’t think much about.

“If I think I could do a better job and do more for people as governor here, then I’d look at it,” he said.

Candidate without a campaign

One of Mr. McAuliffe’s chief obstacles in a second gubernatorial bid would be gaining support from voters who thought of him as chairman of the DNC and of Hillary Rodham Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, instead of as a Virginian of nearly 20 years.

In the three-way 2009 party primary, Mr. McAuliffe garnered 26 percent of the overall vote, besting former Delegate Brian J. Moran’s 24 percent, but falling far short of state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds’ 50 percent.

That he’s scattering more campaign donations around the state than ever before could signify an attempt to put down more obvious roots. He gave nearly $30,000 to Democratic candidates and causes in the state last year, after donating $5,500 in 2008. There are no records of donations from Mr. McAuliffe between 1996 and 2008.

Then there are his travels. Lest anyone miss out on his efforts to reach Virginians all over the state, Mr. McAuliffe makes his outreach efforts easy to track. His bright green website promotes him as a candidate without a campaign, introducing him as “a Virginia businessman fighting for Democratic causes and creating jobs” and includes a Google map pinpointing his recent visits.

The map includes destinations Mr. McAuliffe visited during a three-day road trip through southwestern Virginia in March to talk about green energy with fellow Democrats and energy-focused groups.

Mr. McAuliffe’s travel itinerary includes some jurisdictions in which he lost heavily to Mr. Deeds in 2009.

In Charlottesville, where Mr. McAuliffe won just 10 percent of the vote, he spoke with groups about wind energy and turbines. He met with local Democrats in Radford, where 18 percent of Democratic voters supported him. He dropped in on a City Council meeting in Roanoke, where he performed somewhat better - receiving 24 percent of the vote.

Roanoke City Council member Bill Bestpitch said Mr. McAuliffe’s March visit was well received, but it’s not enough. He needs to travel and travel and travel some more, he said.

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