Democratic Party of Virginia Chairman Brian Moran announced Wednesday that he will resign his post next month after an election cycle that saw President Obama carry the state and U.S. Senator-elect Tim Kaine keep retiring U.S. Sen. Jim Webb's seat in Democratic hands.
Mr. Moran was elected in December 2010 to lead the party after former chairman Richard "Dickie" Cranwell announced his resignation.
The former state delegate who also made a bid for governor in 2009 called serving as party chairman "one of the greatest honors of my life."
"As we all know, Virginia Democrats do not have the luxury of a year off from critical elections," he said. "So as we deservedly savor our November victory, it is time to turn the page on 2012 and gear up for 2013.
Accordingly, the transition of chair should occur now and not in the middle of next year's elections."
Indeed, Virginia, along with New Jersey, elects its governors in off-years, and the race will undoubtedly attract national attention. Mr. Moran's resignation will take effect when the Democratic State Central Committee meets on Dec. 8 in Williamsburg, at which point the party will elect a new chairman.
Delegate Charniele Herring, Alexandria Democrat and the House Minority Whip, announced Wednesday that she will be running to replace Mr. Moran. She noted she has the support of former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, who recently confirmed that he will run for governor next year.
Ms. Herring won a special election to fill Mr. Moran's seat in early 2009 after he resigned to run for governor. The razor-close election went to a recount and she ended up winning by 16 votes over Republican Joe Murray.
Mr. Moran said that the party is well positioned to elect a statewide ticket and pick up seats in the House of Delegates next year. He plans to continue to play "a visible role" advocating for the party in the future.
Senator-elect Tim Kaine, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and Mr. McAuliffe all praised Mr. Moran for his service over the past two years.
"I am immensely proud of the leadership Brian has provided our party over the last two years," Mr. Kaine said. "His commitment to engagement in all corners of the Commonwealth has made the party stronger and expanded our capacity to achieve success in every region of Virginia."
Mr. Warner said last week's elections demonstrate the state party is stronger, more diverse and more energized because of Mr. Moran's work.
"Having served as state party chairman myself, I understand and appreciate the significant time and effort put in by Brian over the last two years to strengthen the Party from the grassroots level," he said.
Mr. McAuliffe, who tussled with Mr. Moran in the 2009 gubernatorial primary ultimately won by state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds of Bath, said Mr. Moran has been an "extraordinary" chairman and the best measure of his tenure was the results of this year's election.
A poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University showed Mr. McAuliffe, the only Democrat who has definitively stated his intention to run, in tight hypothetical match-ups with Republican candidates Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II.
Mr. McAuliffe leads Mr. Bolling by a 2-point margin, 38 percent to 36 percent, and he leads Mr. Cuccinelli by a slightly larger 4-point margin of 41 percent to 37 percent.
If Mr. Warner were to step away from the Senate and run for another term as Virginia governor, he would be the prohibitive favorite, according to the poll. He leads Mr. Bolling by 20 points, 53 percent to 33 percent, and Mr. Cuccinelli by 18 points, 52 percent to 34 percent.
Mr. Warner has said he will make a decision one way or the other by Thanksgiving. But voters, by a nearly two-to-one margin, want to see him run for re-election to the U.S. Senate rather than make another bid for the Executive Mansion. Thirty percent of voters (more than half of which are Republicans) prefer that he does neither.
The poll, conducted Nov. 8-12, surveyed 1,469 registered voters and has a margin of error of 2.6 percentage points.
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