By Tim Craig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, September 14, 2008
DOGUE, Va. -- The Virginia Democratic State Central Committee voted yesterday to hold a primary next year to choose the party's candidate for governor amid growing indications that there could be a three-way fight for the nomination.
Terry McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee who has been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor, said yesterday that he plans to start a 30-locality tour of the state this month to campaign for Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) and Senate candidate Mark R. Warner. But the tour could also serve as a test of McAuliffe's appeal with the Democratic activists who play a crucial role in electing the party's nominee for governor.
"Clearly, I won't rule it out," McAuliffe, a McLean resident, said of a bid for governor. "A lot of people have talked to me about it, but I said let's just focus on this year. . . . By Election Day, I will have traveled to every corner of the state for Obama and Mark Warner."
McAuliffe, a retired businessman who has close ties to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), made the comments during an interview at Warner's annual pig roast at his estate on the banks of the Rappahannock River in King George County. About 2,000 Democratic activists attended.
McAuliffe's presence was the latest sign that he is seriously looking at entering Virginia's governor's race.
Earlier yesterday, McAuliffe spoke at the central committee's fall meeting in Fredericksburg, where it voted to hold a primary instead of a convention. The primary, which also decides nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general, will likely be held in June.
McAuliffe would face Del. Brian J. Moran (Alexandria) and Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath) for the nomination if he joined the race.
Moran and Deeds have been campaigning for more than a year. McAuliffe would likely tap a national donor base to raise millions of dollars in a relatively short time.
"It doesn't matter," Moran said of McAuliffe's possible run. "I'm looking forward to running against the Republican nominee."
Deeds said: "I know what I have to do. It won't be any different if three people are in the race."
Moran and Deeds also were at Warner's picnic.