By Peter Galuszka
On Easter Sunday, I was driving in a cold rain to Charlottesville for a family event. My cell phone started beeping with messages from Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe.
He said he was on his way to his own family brunch but wanted to tap me for $5. I got similar messages from two other staffers.
Why bother me at Easter? Political analyst Larry Sabato wondered the same thing. In a tweet that day he complained about finding “11 obnoxious messages for $$$. Now I know the answer to the age old Q; Is nothing sacred?”
And that may be McAuliffe’s biggest problem as he faces arch-conservative Ken Cuccinelli in the off-year governor’s race. In my profile of him in Style Weekly, I note that McAuliffe is trying to rein in an expansive personality that has made him a top political schmoozer and fundraiser for Democrats from Jimmy Carter to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
A decades’ long political operative who has never been in elected office, he can be bombastic and smooth, as his recent dealings with GreenTech Automotive shows. He flirted with Virginia for a hybrid car plant before going to Mississippi. He has been accused of somehow using the car plant to win special visas for foreign workers and maybe misleading the Virginia Economic Development Partnership about his intentions in the Old Dominion.
Meanwhile, he must overcome some of his misunderstandings of traditional Virginia thinking. However, it’s probably a good thing that he’s going to skip the Shad Planking in Wakefield tonight with its Confederate flags where Cuccinelli will be keynote speaker.
While polls are about 50-50 in the race, McAuliffe’s fundraising prowess has shown brightly. In the first quarter, he raised more than $5 million — more than double the take of Cuccinelli, who has hamstrung by not being allowed raise money during the General Assembly session because of his position as Attorney General. Read on…
(Also, here as a Q&A with McAuliffe)