This past weekend, at the Mount Vernon Democratic Committee straw poll, Democratic candidates for Virginia Governor, Virginia Lieutenant Governor and Virginia Attorney General made their cases to the voters and faced their first hurdle toward winning statewide office.
Every candidate showed up with just one glaring exception: Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who didn’t even bother to show. For someone who’s shown so little interest in Virginia politics before he decided to run for Governor, skipping one of the state’s biggest cattle calls doesn’t bode well for his campaign.
In McAuliffe’s absence, Brian Moran brought down the house and won the straw poll in a landslide:
83 – Brian Moran
43 – Creigh Deeds
33 – Terry McAuliffe
You know what they say–if you don’t show up and ask for people’s votes, you won’t get them.
For Lieutenant Governor, Jody Wagner–VA’s Secretary of Finance–beat the other contenders by a healthy margin:
62 – Jody Wagner
44 – Jon Bowerbank
18 – Pat Edmonson
15 – Mike Signer
10 – Rich Savage
Delegate Steve Shannon, the only Democrat running for Attorney General, won universal praise for his campaign.
As it stands, the Gubernatorial race seems to be shaping up as a two-man contest between McAuliffe and Moran, while Deeds is quickly fading. One of the problems for Deeds is that he’s holding onto his seat in the Virginia Senate, which means he’s bound by campaign finance laws in terms of when and how he can raise and spend campaign cash.
Couple that with the fact that Deeds’ base is in sparsely-populated Southern Virginia–as opposed to Moran and McAuliffe, who hail from heavily-populated Northern Virginia–and you have a recipe for near-certain defeat.
McAuliffe is the well-known, well-funded establishment candidate while Moran is the progressive underdog; that’s the current dynamic of the race and it leaves nearly no room for Deeds. He should have a bigger role in the race, considering that he ran for statewide office in 2005 and lost by an extraordinarily slim margin; unfortunately for him, he’s just not out there aggressively selling his angle enough. Unless he takes some drastic action to change that, the dynamics of this race will leave him on the sidelines.
The Democratic Primary is June 9th. In all likelihood–barring some major change in the race–I will be voting for Brian Moran. But a lot can happen between now and the primary, so this certainly isn’t set in stone just yet.
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