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Candidate Closer to N.Va. Than It Seems

State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D), left, shown with Sen. Henry L. Marsh III (D), acknowledges that he's at a monetary disadvantage in the gubernatorial primary.
State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D), left, shown with Sen. Henry L. Marsh III (D), acknowledges that he's at a monetary disadvantage in the gubernatorial primary. (2008 Photo By Steve Helber -- Associated Press)
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"You only get one opportunity -- this is a four-year job," he says. "We've gone on the cheap in higher education for years. This [energy] research is going to take place; the only question is where, and if we want a future with good-paying jobs, we want that research to happen here. You can't win competing for low-end jobs."

Already he is being dismissed as the spoiler in the race, the candidate who might prevent Moran from collecting the anti-McAuliffe vote, but Deeds is unapologetic. He is aiming his fire at the guy whose candidacy promises to turn Virginia's election into a national referendum on President Obama, the economy and the prospects for a resurgent Republican Party.

"There's some folks out there who think they can just stroll into Virginia without knowing about how this government works," he says. That would be McAuliffe, the Mr. Moneybags who has turned his nationally admired fundraising machine into a cannon shooting dollars into the governor's race. "Somebody has boned him up on his facts about the number of hours people waste commuting, but that doesn't mean he knows where the restroom is on the third floor of the Capitol."

Deeds has spent 17 years in the Richmond legislature. He is the only candidate who decided to keep his day job rather than campaign full time. He is the only one not likely to be able to afford TV time in the Washington area. He is breathtakingly earnest, even more so than Gov. Tim Kaine. He has a rural twang and an urban pace. He is a man in a hurry, crisscrossing the state, trying to make up in miles for what he lacks in dollars.

"There's no way I can keep up with those two," he says of McAuliffe and Moran. "If this race is about money, I lose."

First in a series on Virginia's candidates for governor.

E-mail: marcfisher@washpost.com


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