Arsenic and old lace. The 2013 Virginia’s governor’s race is pretty well set – give or take a possible independent run by Bill Bolling. The Republicans have continued their policy of demographic suicide by putting forth current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. A right winger consumed by conservative social issues, Ken Cuccinelli makes Mitt Romney look like a lefty. Predictably, the far right wing of the Republican Party sees the candidacy of Ken Cuccinelli as pure genius. Moderate Republicans just shake their heads in dismay. The Democrats are sending Terry McAuliffe back to the plate for another at bat. Surprisingly, the Democratic faithful seem to be caught between distaste and ambivalence regarding their candidate. Lefty blog Blue Virginia represents the ambivalence side of the equation by damning with faint praise. Waldo Jaquith is far more frustrated (although he has some choice words for Cuccinelli as well). Given the attitude of Democrats toward their own candidate, I have to wonder – what’s wrong with Terry McAuliffe?
He’s never held elected office. While it’s certainly ambitious to run for governor as your first elected office, it’s hardly unique. Ronald Reagan and Mark Warner both went directly from party functionary to governor.
McAuliffe is a carpetbagger / “office shopper.” The carpetbagger claim is simply absurd. McAuliffe grew up in Syracuse and moved to Washington to attend college at Catholic University. Mark Warner also came to Virginia to attend college in D.C. George Allen and Tim Kaine arrived on the scene later in life than McAuliffe. The claim that McAuliffe has been “shopping for a governorship” is equally absurd. That allegation seems to stem from a very confusing article in the Huffington Post. Somebody asked McAuliffe about a possible run in Florida. The staffer who responded said McAuliffe was flattered to be asked but would not run. The claim in New York is no more than his work to help Hillary Clinton with her campaign. Much ado about nothing.
His business credentials are overblown. Let’s see. He founded a bank, bought a struggling construction company and turned it around before selling it and he’s the chairman of an electric car company. Other than Mark Warner McAuliffe has better business credentials than any Virginia governor in recent memory.
Global Crossing. McAuliffe was an angel investor in the company that became Global Crossing. His $100,000 investment was ultimately sold for $18M after Global Crossing went public (and before it went bankrupt). So what? He never worked for Global Crossing and never was a member of its board. McAuliffe sold his shares long before there were any financial problems. The SEC investigated Global Crossing and found that no wrongdoing occurred. I guess McAuliffe’s “sin” was to be smart enough to sell his shares before the dot com bubble burst.
He built his factory in Mississippi, not Virginia. McAuliffe is Chairman of Greentech – an electric car company that recently built a factory in Mississippi. Again, so what? Mississippi made Greentech a deal. Given the other investors associated with Greentech, I assume McAuliffe doesn’t own Greentech or a majority of Greentech. As a director he has a fiduciary responsibility to all shareholders. If he would have put the factory in Virginia to further his political career he could have been credibly accused of a breach of fiduciary responsibility.
Rippert’s Readout. There is nothing inherently wrong with Terry McAuliffe. He’s a Washington insider but not a Richmond insider. I guess the Richmond insiders think that only those of their ilk should be allowed to run for statewide office.
– D.J. Rippert