- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 8, 2009

Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe officially announced his candidacy for Virginia governor Wednesday, saying his main goal is to improve the bleak economy - including more jobs for Virginians - and that he’d do the work for free.

Mr. McAuliffe said he would donate the governor’s $175,000 a year salary to charity, if elected.

He began is campaign with a weeklong, 16-stop kickoff tour that started at daybreak in Norfolk.

Mr. McAuliffe, 51, stressed his business credentials and pledged a pragmatic, nonpartisan approach to developing jobs.

“There’s no such thing as a Republican job or a Democratic job,” he said. “It’s about bringing people together to create good jobs.”

In an hourlong town-hall-style event - his second of the day - Mr. McAuliffe vowed to outpace other U.S. governors in bringing jobs to their states and to make renewable-energy standards mandatory for utilities, instead of the current voluntary system.

He called for more aggressive expansion of infrastructure to the port at Hampton Roads, providing better rail and highway service to shippers who need to unload their cargo. He also called for better funding for the governor’s discretionary fund for recruiting businesses.

On energy, he proposed wind farms 50 miles off the Atlantic coast and gathering chicken dung from the state’s huge poultry industry to generate methane gas, which produces electricity.

Mr. McAuliffe’s announcement sets up a three-way primary fight for the Democratic nomination, which is in June. The general election is Nov. 3.

Former state Delegate Brian J. Moran, Alexandria Democrat, and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, Bath Democrat, entered the race early last year and each have long lists of endorsements.

Mr. Moran has said his endorsements show Mr. McAuliffe is a carpetbagger who hasn’t paid his dues in Virginia politics.

A native of upstate New York, Mr. McAuliffe has lived in Virginia for about 17 years. His home is in the Northern Virginia neighborhood of McLean.

Mr. McAuliffe is a former top adviser to the Clintons and a prolific fundraiser whose national donor base could infuse the race with tens of millions of dollars. That prompted Mr. Moran last week to challenge his primary rivals to forgo out-of-state contributions.

Mr. McAuliffe’s announcement is no surprise. He conspicuously crisscrossed Virginia last fall, honing his message and style in campaign appearances for President-elect Barack Obama. In November, he filed papers establishing his gubernatorial campaign committee, hired a veteran political staff and embarked on a statewide “listening tour.”

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell is uncontested for the Republican nomination. A fall showdown against Mr. McAuliffe has helped Mr. McDonnell attract national Republican donors. This week, he has two fundraisers with former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

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