Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said Thursday he plans to run for governor of Virginia in 2013, becoming the first Democrat to enter a race that will undoubtedly receive significant national attention as just one of two gubernatorial contests next year.
Mr. McAuliffe, who lost in a three-way primary for the party's nomination in 2009, had indicated his intention to run, but had also said he wanted to see whether Sen. Mark R. Warner decided to seek the post before making a firm decision.
"I realize that after any election, some people's immediate question is about the next campaign," Mr. McAuliffe wrote in an email to supporters. "I want to be straightforward with you: I plan on running for governor of Virginia in 2013."
Mr. Warner, who served as Virginia's governor from 2002 to 2006 and remains enormously popular in the state, said this week he would decide by Thanksgiving whether or not to run. Virginia governors can only serve multiple terms if they are nonconsecutive. A Warner aide said Thursday the senator has been telling Democrats for months that there is no need for them to wait on his decision.
Mr. McAuliffe joins Kenneth T. Cuccinelli, the state's attorney general, and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who will fight for the GOP nomination, as another candidate in the race.
"Over the past four years, I've traveled to every corner of Virginia for over 2,400 meetings and events," Mr. McAuliffe wrote. "It is absolutely clear to me that Virginians want their next governor to focus on job creation and common-sense fiscal responsibility instead of divisive partisan issues. If we want Virginia to be the best place for business, we need leaders who prioritize economic growth and move beyond the political issues that are designed to divide us."
The Virginian-Pilot first reported Thursday that Mr. McAuliffe had begun calling Democrats in the state to let them know his intentions.
In the three-way 2009 party primary, Mr. McAuliffe garnered 26 percent of the overall vote, besting the 24 percent of former Delegate Brian J. Moran, who is now chairman of the Democratic Party of Virginia, but falling far short of state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds' 50 percent. The Democrats will decide their nominee via primary again, while Republicans will hold a nominating convention to choose theirs.
History suggests the path to victory for Mr. McAuliffe — or for any other Democratic candidate — could be difficult. Not since 1965 have Virginians elected a Democratic governor when the White House has been held by a Democrat.
Then again, President Obama became just the fourth Democratic presidential candidate since 1896 to win the state in two consecutive elections, joining Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and William Jennings Bryan as a member of the ultra-exclusive club. In 2008, Mr. Obama also became the first Democrat since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964 to carry the state in a presidential race.
Since losing the 2009 primary, Mr. McAuliffe founded a company called GreenTech Automotive Inc., which produces environment-friendly and energy-efficient vehicles, including compact cars and sport utility vehicles. It was the first in a line of green-energy investments he has made.
The Virginia Port Authority also announced last month that it agreed to a 20-year lease at Portsmouth Marine Terminal with Ecofuels Pellet Storage LLC, a company that exports wood pellets to Europe. The McLean-based Capital Management International, an investor in renewable energy where Mr. McAuliffe is a principal, founded Ecofuels along with Multifuels LP, a Houston-based company.
"2013 will be a new year, a new campaign, and a critical time to decide the future of the commonwealth," Mr. McAuliffe concluded. "Until then, I will be spending the holidays with my family, continuing my work in business, and listening to your ideas for Virginia's future. Enjoy the weekend with your family and the well-deserved break from politics."
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