The dust is barely settled on the 2012 elections in Virginia, and the positioning has already begun for next year, as Terry McAuliffe has begun calling fellow Democrats to tell them that he plans to run for governor.
McAuliffe has made more than 200 calls to supporters informing them of the news and will open up an official campaign committee in December, according to an aide.
The step is essentially a formality for McAuliffe, who lost the 2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary to Creigh Deeds and has been angling to run again ever since. He has privately told supporters before that he would run in 2013.
But the timing of McAuliffe’s calls, which were first reported by the Virginian-Pilot, is curious, as they come just days after Sen. Mark Warner (D) told reporters he would announce by Thanksgiving whether he plans to make a bid to return to the governor’s mansion. McAuliffe would be widely expected to step aside if Warner runs.
Warner was among those Democrats whom McAuliffe called this week. A Warner aide, who requested anonymity to convey a private discussion, said Warner told McAuliffe: “Don’t wait on my decision. Do what you need to do.”
The McAuliffe aide, who also requested anonymity to characterize the discussion, said McAuliffe and Warner have a good relationship. But McAuliffe did not want to wait any longer.
“He just thought it was time to go start raising money and hiring people,” the aide said. “We’ve got to get prepared and start planning.”
A September Washington Post poll found that Warner would begin a governor’s race with a bigger base of support than McAuliffe and both of the Republican contenders — Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II.