State Senator In Va. Opens A Long Run For Governor

By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, December 14, 2007

RICHMOND, Dec. 13 -- State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds said Thursday that he will seek the Democratic nomination for Virginia governor in 2009, an unusually early announcement that sets the stage for a two-year campaign for the state's top job.

In a video on his Web site, Deeds said he is the best candidate to carry on the legacy of the state's current and former Democratic governors and will work "to create opportunity in every corner of Virginia."

"Mark Warner and Tim Kaine have shown us there's a better way," said Deeds, 49, who represents the Charlottesville area. "That better way -- an optimistic, common-sense approach to solving problems -- is how I will lead Virginia forward if given the privilege to serve as your next governor."

Deeds, a former prosecutor who often refers to himself as a country lawyer, lost the 2005 race for attorney general by 360 votes out of nearly 2 million cast. He is the first person to formally announce that he is running for governor.

Virginia Democrats will select their party's nominee in June 2009. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine is barred by law from seeking consecutive terms.

Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) also is expected to run for governor. He said he won't make a formal announcement until after the legislative session ends in March. "Right now, I am focused on meeting the challenges of the 2008 legislative session and assisting the governor on his initiatives," he said.

Lewis Franklin "L.F." Payne Jr., a former congressman who was an unsuccessful candidate for lieutenant governor in 1997, also is considering running for the Democratic nomination for governor.

"I am very interested in it, but we will make our decision sometime after the first of the year," said Payne, who works for a D.C. lobbying firm.

If Moran or Payne challenges Deeds, it would be the first competitive race for the Democratic nomination for governor in Virginia since 1985, when Gerald L. Baliles, then the attorney general, faced off against Richard J. Davis Jr., the lieutenant governor at the time. Davis dropped out a few days before the nominating convention, when it became clear that Baliles was going to win.

The 2009 governor's race will come at a critical time for Virginia Democrats, who are hoping to continue their recent success in statewide elections.

The Democratic nominee probably will face a strong Republican candidate. Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell Jr., who beat Deeds two years ago; George Allen, a former governor and U.S. senator; and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling have been mentioned as possible candidates.

Deeds, who holds conservative views on some social issues, said in an interview that his campaign will be centered on investing in education, environmental protection and transportation and in building a "research-based economy."

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