- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2008

RICHMOND | Virginia Democrats came together to win the state in a historic presidential election, but the battle for governor next year has already created factions.

The bickering between the camps of Delegate Brian J. Moran, Northern Virginia Democrat, and former Democratic National Chairman Terry McAuliffe started weeks ago.

The prospect of Mr. McAuliffe, an expert fundraiser, entering the race surprised Mr. Moran and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, who is from Bath County in the mountainous western spine of the state.

Last week, when Mr. McAuliffe signed top-name Democratic advisers and made his announcement about a potential run for governor, the behind-the-scenes grumbling went public.

Mr. McAuliffe said he would embark on a 60-day listening tour of Virginia before announcing his decision on Jan. 7.

Mr. Moran’s chief spokesman, Jesse F. Ferguson, extended a dismissive “welcome to the race” to Mr. McAuliffe and cited unconfirmed speculation from three years ago about Mr. McAuliffe’s interest in another gubernatorial contest.

“Given Mr. McAuliffe’s previous ambitions to run for governor of Florida, he needs to explain to the people of Virginia if he’s doing this for the right reasons,” Mr. Ferguson said.

Mr. McAuliffe never publicly expressed interest in the 2006 Florida race. The state has a seven-year residency requirement for prospective governors, and at the time Mr. McAuliffe was a 14-year Virginia resident.

Mr. Moran responded to McAuliffe’s announcement last week by unveiling endorsements from high-profile Democrats in Loudoun County, a once reliably Republican territory that has now backed Democrats in every statewide race since 2005.

On Monday, Mr. Ferguson gave reporters a bunch of newspaper stories that included less-than-flattering excerpts about Mr. McAuliffe.

McAuliffe spokesman Mo Elleithee responded by saying Democrats are put off by party members who attack other party members.

Mr. Elleithee said Mr. Moran’s campaign has spent “a curiously large amount of time” obsessing over someone who’s “not even a declared candidate for governor yet.” Mr. McAuliffe has chartered a campaign committee with state election officials.

Mr. Deeds’ spokesman, Peter Jackson, said the Deeds campaign “is going to decline to comment on this one.”

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