Home 2013 races Enthusiasm Gap For Terry? GET OVER IT.

Enthusiasm Gap For Terry? GET OVER IT.

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(Cross-posted at Daily Kos)

I’m still seeing a lot of ambivalence among progressives over Terry McAuliffe’s candidacy for governor, in comments on blogs, newspaper articles and elsewhere. As too frequently happens, the Republicans have united their (lunatic) base, while ours continues to hem and haw.

So is Terry the perfect candidate? No, but Jesus decided not to run this year. Gandhi, King, Lincoln and FDR similarly declined. So I guess we better focus on the candidate we’ve got rather than the ones we don’t.

Rather than just dismissing the guy outright, or saying you’ll “hold your nose” and vote for him, it’s important to understand the reasons why folks on the left should be actively and enthusiastically supporting Terry’s candidacy without delay.

The first reason is obvious to all Virginia-watchers: We are up against the most dangerous Republican in America right now, Ken Cuccinelli, who takes pride in taking the most extreme stands in his party and pushing them like a vicious bully. Where others simply mouth the words to the slogans of climate change denial, Cuccinelli spent two years in a legal assault against climate scientist Michael Mann, costing the University of Virginia hundreds of thousands in legal bills. He coerced the state health board into regulating abortion clinics as hospitals, which could drive all the clinics out of the state. He sued the Obama administration the moment the Affordable Health Care Act was signed, and has sued EPA multiple times for daring to regulate fossil fuels. He still thinks sodomy laws are a good idea, and went to court to prove it.

And his election could easily sweep his newly-minted running mates into office as well: E.W. Jackson, who calls abortion “genocide” and has compared Planned Parenthood to the KKK, for Lieutenant Governor; and Mark Obenshain, who sponsored bills to give fetuses “personhood” rights and require women who have miscarriages to report them to the police, for Attorney General.

The pivotal swing state of Virginia could continue to move forward under a Democratic governor — or plunge back into the Dark Ages under Cuccinelli and his gruesome sidekicks. Your choice.

Beyond the clear threat of the opponent we face, however, it’s important to confront the aspects of Terry that make progressives uncomfortable and examine if they really amount to anything.

I hear few actual, substantive complaints against Terry, but more of a general distrust of him based on his style. Folks on the left tend not to be comfortable with the big money fundraiser/schmoozer types, for obvious reasons — because the Republican party has been taken over by such types in order to advance corporate interests.

But the truth is that having a candidate who’s a powerhouse fundraiser is a political strength, not a weakness. In the first quarter of this year, Terry crushed Cuccinelli, raising $5 million to Cuccinelli’s $2.4 million (which included a $1 million gift from the Republican Governor’s Association). This is important not only for winning the governor’s race: Terry made a clear pledge when opening his Fairfax office to pour money into General Assembly races and beyond for a “10 year project” to build a solid Democratic majority in Virginia (see starting minute 11:30 of video here.) This is truly music to any Virginia Democrat’s ears.

Let’s be honest: we need money to beat the Republicans at their own game and create actual governing majorities. While I’m so glad that President Obama won re-election, it is painful to have to watch him deal every day deal with a Republican House that refuses to work with him at any level. It shows why just winning the top of the ticket is not enough.

The larger context of fears on the left of business types is, of course, a concern that they will tend to lean right in their policies. Yet the evidence suggests that Terry could end up being one of Virginia’s most progressive governors ever.  Let’s start with recent historical trends. The Democratic resurgence in Virginia began when Mark Warner was elected governor in 2001, in a campaign well known for its sops to Southern culture, notably his sponsorship of a NASCAR team. Warner then, as now in the U.S. Senate, is well-known for his tendency to tack to the center whenever possible.

Tim Kaine, following Warner to both the governorship in 2005 and the Senate last year, while hardly a flaming liberal, has consistently shown his ability to succeed in Virginia while taking more progressive approaches than his predecessor. This trend reflects the growth of Northern Virginia (and other urban centers in Hampton Roads and Charlottesville) with more educated and diverse populations that can carry progressives to victory — as it did with President Obama two election cycles in a row.

This is a trend that Terry McAuliffe cannot ignore but to his own peril. The Obama campaign has proven that Democratic victory in Virginia today depends on energizing the base and turning out young people and minorities to vote. That is partly his responsibility, and partly ours — we are in the same boat here, and our voices will be more effectively heard from within that boat than grumbling on the shore.

Nor is his campaign neglecting to focus on progressive issues. Priorities he’s emphasized to date include protecting women’s health, funding education and stimulating the economy through green energy investments. He has strong union support.

His political history should encourage, not discourage, Democrats. He’s been a major figure in national Democratic politics since 1980, when he first served as Deputy Treasurer and Director of Finance to the DNC, and was phenomenally successful in putting national Democratic organizations on a firmer footing financially and organizationally over a span of 25 years, culminating in his position as DNC Chairman. This is a record of service that deserves an awful lot more thanks and praise than criticism.

One more aspect of the left’s distrust of Terry is a fear that he does not seem serious — he smiles too much, he’s too happy, he’s having too much fun! Partisans like us tend to trust the angry warrior more than the happy one. But happy warriors can be quite successful. Ronald Reagan brought conservatism into the modern era by replacing the sourpuss demeanor of the typical conservative with a sunnier, more optimistic style.

The fact that Terry enjoys politics, and shows it, is no more a weakness than his knack for fundraising or his friendship with Bill Clinton, who will undoubtedly spend time campaigning for him this year. The bottom line, then, is that none of the grumbling on the left against Terry has much if any substance to it. It’s pretty much all about Terry’s style.

Which is why we need to get over it, and get on board his campaign as soon and actively as possible to help him beat the fanatics, and make Virginia a blue state once and for all.

  • From the McAuliffe for Governor campaign:

    Republicans Callahan & Waddell: GOP Ticket Too Extreme for Virginia

    Republican former members of the Virginia House of Delegates, Vincent Callahan Jr. and Katherine Waddell held a call Monday to discuss how the Republican ticket is too extreme for Virginia. The two highlighted how gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli, along with E.W. Jackson, candidate for Lieutenant Governor, and Mark Obenshain, candidate for Attorney General, will drive an extreme ideological agenda rather than find mainstream solutions to the issues Virginians care about.

    Callahan, the longest-serving Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates, commented how Cuccinelli, E.W. Jackson, and Obenshain represent an extreme wing of the party who will further alienate Virginians, especially with their social agenda. “Having been involved with the development and building of the Republican party here for 40 years, my problem is that the party has gone astray. Traditional Republicans like myself are left out, and I think the party has been hijacked by reactionary Republicans masquerading as conservatives,” Callahan stated.

    Republican Katherine Waddell, former member of the House of Delegates and founder of Women’s Strike Force reinforced how the Republican ticket will seek to drive an extreme social agenda, commenting, “Cuccinelli, Jackson, and Obenshain are the most unfortunate choices for a Party that used to be a big tent party focused on limited government, individual freedom and the right to privacy. But not this ticket – this ticket is composed of three men who are focused exclusively on intruding into Virginians’ personal lives. This extremism does not support real Republican ideals and is not supported by the majority of Virginians.”

    Callahan closed the discussion affirming his support for Terry McAuliffe for Governor: “I will support the candidate who will do the best for the Commonwealth, who will make Virginia the best state in the nation, and to me that is way beyond any party affiliation,” he stated.

  • Charles Stanton

    Terry McAuliffe has agreed to take the expansion of Medicaid that is offered to the States under the Affordable Care Act.

    This will greatly expand the number of poorer Virginians access to heath care in our Commonwealth by hundreds of thousand. This expansion will greatly expand job opportunities in the health care delivery system in the Commonwealth, by tens of thousand. And if basic humanity to afford health care to our citizens does not move progressives, it will also save the taxpayers of Virginia several hundred million dollars that can be used for ______ (fill in the blank) other purposes you might think important.

  • sal paradise

    I’ve been around and voting since 1972 and have voted for some real dogs in that time.  We used to say Yellow Dog Democrats (you’d vote for a yellow dog if it was a democrat).  TA is a classic example of that application.  Had the GOP rolled out a normal candidate TA would be toast.  He only has a chance due to the GOP whack-job running this year.  Even then, TA stands a solid chance of losing based on his history in politics, business and connection to the evil Clinton Empire.  Your right, TA is not any of those ‘great’ leaders, and I am firmly in the ‘hold your nose’ column here.  The sad thing is that should he be elected I fully expect him to swing even further right in order to promote his own standing in the state and get in line for further elected office.  

    It’s really, really, really too bad Jim Webb decided not to run for governor this year.

  • Bumble Bee

    If you really want to have a rotten administration  let coo-coo and his tin foil hat crazies come to power. Just look at North Carolina, and all in a years time. It is time to join the TMAC army and keep the looney birds at bay. It is that important!

  • Jim B

    Mac may be according to some a bad candidate, but yeah get over it. Do we want to send people to jail if they have a miscarriage? I have been around for quite a while and we have have had some good candidates from both parties, but the nut cases running for office as republicans this year have to be the worse set of candidates ever.

  • Harkov311

    Anybody complaining about voting for McAuliffe has obviously not been paying close attention to the man who is running against him.  I hope I don’t really have to remind anyone here about how awful, how odious Ken Cuccinelli is.

    I have to assume a lot of the complainers are not actually Virginians, since any VA Dems have experience the degradation to our commonwealth at his hands first-hand, and wouldn’t need reminders about how this man has turned our state into some sort of national punchline, votes for Obama and Kaine notwithstanding.

    Seriously, if you thought McDonnell was annoying, Cuccinelli will about give you a heart attack.

  • BatCave

    and that goes for some of the comments as well.  

    Those of us who detest Terry McAuliffe have done so for years and that is simply not going to change.  But telling those of us who do despise Terry to “get over it” is a waste of time and counter productive – but at least we have stopped talking about it?  Why do you guys keep bringing it up?  

    And Lowell, if Daily Kos is such a horrible place because of the “purists” who blog there, why continue to post diaries there and make comments?  You can’t have it both ways.  

    The bottom line is that you are never going to brow beat those of us who do not like Terry, who I call “The Robin Leach” of the Democratic Party, into liking Terry, and that’s okay.  I am never going to post a diary touting the business acumen of Terry NcAuliffe because it’s all smoke and mirrors – you are not going to change my mind.  The way to do this is to continually remind us just how bad the three stooges are and we’ll move on to supporting the ticket, in spite of our contempt for Terry.  And a lot of us have already done so.    

    Most of us have moved on, but it’s diaries like this that keep bringing the issue up.  So I suggest the author of this diary, along with some of the folks who’ve made comments, take their own advise and move on as well.    

    ‘Nough said.  

  • Harry

    Terry was a big hit at the Gainesville District (Prince William County) Annual Fish Fry.  I’ve heard him speak numerous times in the past month and I’m glad to say, he has refined his stump speech (shortened it) and was a big hit  with the 130 Democrats and Independents in attendance.  No election in my memory in Virginia has created a more division of positions.  The Cuccinelli/Jackson/Obenshain ticket is in lock step, while Cuccinelli may try to act more moderate there is no way Jackson can possibly get on board with moderation.  The Republican Party no longer exists in Virginia, the second Party is the “Tea Party”.