Virginia state Sen. Chap Petersen is all but certain to run for governor in 2013, according to an adviser to the Fairfax County Democrat.
Petersen, who announced the creation of a leadership PAC earlier this week, said he intends to run for statewide office, but he has left up in the air whether he would run for attorney general or governor.
But Ben Tribbett, who has been involved in Petersen’s political campaigns since his first win for the House of Delegates in 2001, said Wednesday that Petersen clearly has his sights set on the executive mansion.
The only thing that could change Petersen’s course would be if Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) entered the race, Tribbett said. Rumors have been going around for some time that Warner, who liked being governor and was well liked by both parties and the public too, might want his old job back.
“I think he’s running for governor this summer unless there’s an earthquake, and that earthquake is Mark Warner,” said Tribbett, who also writes the Not Larry Sabato blog.
Petersen, who has a law practice and a family with four children, sounded coy about his plans when asked earlier this week.
“The question is, am I interested in being a statewide commitment in 2013? Yes, I am. Have I started raising money? No, I have not,” Petersen said, adding that he could only say he was not interested in another run for the lieutenant governor. “If I do run I want to control my own destiny,” Petersen said.
If Warner stays out, Petersen might first have to get past Terry McAuliffe, who tried to win the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2009 and appears pretty obviously to be trying again.
And then there’s a chance Petersen could end up in the general election against a guy who once represented the Fairfax County senate district next to Petersen’s: Ken Cuccinelli.
Petersen and Cuccinelli, an arch-conservative who is now Virginia’s attorney general, know each other well. They have mixed it up before during candidates forums at Robinson Secondary School, which served their districts when both were in the Virginia General Assembly, Tribbett said.
If Cuccinelli beats out Lt. Gov. Bill Billing for the GOP nomination, Tribbett said, Petersen would be in a good position to take him on.
“He’s a better matchup for Cuccinelli than Terry,” Tribbett said. “They’ve gone head to head before.”