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Virginia Notebook: A Race That Hasn't Stuck to Moran's Script

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By Anita Kumar
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 28, 2009

RICHMOND

There, at the end of his latest radio ad, are the words that have defined Brian Moran's run for governor from the start:

He's earned it.

Moran had been working toward a run for governor for years, building his relationships, boosting his reputation -- and carefully watching over his record in the House of Delegates, where Republicans enjoyed ribbing him for votes he took with his statewide ambitions in mind.

Moran, a former delegate from Alexandria who had never faced a competitive race, did not officially announce his candidacy for governor for the longest time. He never had to; everyone already knew he was running.

With less than two weeks until Election Day, the race for the Democratic nomination remains close among the three candidates: Moran, state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. It's a scenario that most didn't envision a year ago, or even six months ago.

Before the campaign even got going, Moran shut his law practice and assumed the role of the presumptive Democratic nominee. As the candidate from the state's most populous area, he had expected to run a campaign with the most money, all the key endorsements and the staff members who had worked for the gubernatorial campaigns of Mark R. Warner and Timothy M. Kaine. He spent his money almost as fast as he raised it.

His supporters tried to persuade his sole rival, Deeds, to run for attorney general instead of governor. Some argued that Deeds had already had his chance at a statewide office -- and squandered it -- when he narrowly lost to Republican Robert F. McDonnell in the race for attorney general in 2005.

Enter McAuliffe.

The McLean resident seemed to come out of nowhere when he got into the race at the end of last year. His approach to the campaign, and the millions of dollars he raised, quickly changed the dynamics of the race.

Suddenly, McAuliffe was the presumed favorite.


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