Home Virginia Politics Say what? VA DEMS want as Chair a guy who savaged DEMS...

Say what? VA DEMS want as Chair a guy who savaged DEMS likely 2013 GUV nominee?


(UPDATE: Brian says he’s interested. – promoted by lowkell)

Say what? They want to choose as their new chair a guy whose claim to fame statewide is that savaged Terry McAuliffe, right now the party’s likely nominee for Governor in 2013, with any number statements, TV and Radio ADS which are in Ken Cuccinelli’s desk drawer?

by Paul Goldman

Has everyone forgotten what Team Moran said about Terry McAuliffe in the 2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary? They were proud of it, and if you don’t believe me, just Google “Moran Attacks McAuliffe” and give yourself a few hours to read it all, and see it all.

Do you really think the GOP will not feature all that stuff in the 2013 campaign, since it sounds a lot more credible coming from the VA DEM party chair about the VA DEM candidate for Governor than a Republican hit man?

I was there when the deal was cut to make Mark Warner chairman after he had refused to do it. He wanted to run statewide and this seemed to me to be a really good opportunity for Mark, he was my friend, and so Pam Womack, then Mary Sue Terry’s campaign manager and I cooked up a plan to get Mark to reconsider, knowing Governor Wilder would approve since it was his choice. I told him then: this will be the smartest thing you do in politics if you want to get the DEM nomination for something.  

Mark was a terrific chairman since he had not just money, which gave him the time, and helped fuel the ambition, but an amazing amount of talent and yes charm, the boy can turn it on when he wants to. It is true that  Mary Sue lost big, and Mark then ran for the Senate, and lost, and then we Democrats got crushed in 1997 the way we did in 2009.

But as Mark would be the first admit, Cranwell did his best in 2009, as he did in 2005. Politics goes in cycles and if you catch a wave, then you can look really smart or dumb if the wave catches you. In the end, timing and on occasion good campaigns usually play the biggest roles in winning or losing – luck never hurts either! – although in 2011, re-districting is going to have a lot to do with it I am afraid, since it isn’t a case of a statewide campaign but carving the state up. Hopefully Saslaw can at least make it fair.

Wilder named me chair over the objections of Senator Chuck Robb, and Mr. Robb made his feelings known to me personally along with other ways. Needless to say, I wasn’t his first choice. In retrospect, while it was the Governor’s choice, the Robb faction was powerful and even though I had helped Robb get elected Governor, it was an oil and water situation if you will. I could have handled it better, but one would hope in retrospect, they might be now willing to say they could have handled it better likewise from their end.

Truth is, for all our fighting, we did as President Obama said, achieved in 1985 and then 1989 history that inspired and others, even if we weren’t necessarily the perfect actors in that historic play. Live and learn, we at least changed Virginia for the best, starting with Robb’s run for Governor in 1981, which is where I met Wilder, we both did all we could elect Robb, who was a great Governor and Senator.

It is not that Robb should have had a veto – as I say it is a sitting Governor’s choice – but my having been the point man for all that it took to get Wilder to force the party establishment to accept him should have made me realize how they would see things. Ironically, when Wilder challenged Robb in 1994, I helped Robb, not Wilder!

Mark Warner helped in that regard, it was a hard decision, but as much as Robb and I had our differences, I had written an article saying North was going to win a 4 way race, and Robb was therefore the only way to beat him. When Wilder later dropped out, it became far easier of course, and in that regard, Wilder did the right thing.

The bottom line point being: Politics is a matter of perception at times, and one has to deal with it, or it will deal with you.

So yes, Terry and Brian are both good guys, talented and with a future in VA politics on the elected level if that is what they want.

I understand Brian wants to get back into the game, and has his eye on a future run for statewide office, he surely has the talent to do it.

However, perception being what it is: Brian can not say, as the famous SNL character did – Never Mind – when it comes to erasing what he said about Terry.

All the TV ADS, the radio ADS, the news reporters are out there. Either he meant it, or he didn’t. So if he takes it back as just “politics”, then his credibility is hurt and moreover, everything else he said or will say will in the future is tainted.

So this leaves him with only one option: He has to say he meant it when he said, but yada, yada, yada upon reflection a year later, yada, yada, yada.

It’s a strategy that might work for Brian, but not Terry.

Let’s cut to the chase: In 2001, do you think Mark Warner would have accepted a party chairman who was on the record saying the kinds of things Brian said about Terry?

Of course not, as Chuck Robb liked to say, politics isn’t brain surgery.

Net, net: A serious political party doesn’t pick as the Chair someone who only last year savaged their likely next gubernatorial nominee. Get serious.

When I was helping Wilder break the color line in state politics, I had to put up with a lot of abuse that he knew, that Mark Warner knew, as did others, wasn’t fair.

So Brian, I know at some level you think it isn’t fair, and it probably isn’t, primary campaigns are tough, Terry is no Choir boy, you wanted to win, and so when your advisors told you what they wanted you to say, you did it, this is politics.

And come 2013, I have no doubts that you as chair would be a strong supporter of Terry if he does get the 2013 nomination.

Moreover, you have the support of Senator Warner, who has immense respect among members of the State Democratic Committee.

And since there is no sitting DEM Governor, that issue isn’t relevant here.

But bottom: Your being picked as Chairman at this point in time doesn’t help, and can only  hurt, the leading candidate for the party’s 2013 nomination for Governor.

I wasn’t involved in Terry’s campaign, and the only thing we have ever done together of a political nature is to help convinced Warner and Webb to introduce a bill that would have saved Virginia localities $2 billion and modernized all the old schools in Virginia with private money. We haven’t spoken for months.

Personally, I don’t know whether Terry will run for Governor or not in 2013.

But I do know this having been involved at the strategy level in a few winning statewide campaigns: if the State Central dared try to select as Party Chair someone who was on the record trashing my candidate the way Brian Moran trashed Terry, I would consider it a direct and intentional slap at my candidate.

And I can tell you this, as history attests: The price that party would have to pay to screw with my candidate is more than even Mark Warner could afford.    


Sign up for the Blue Virginia weekly newsletter

Previous articleNo need to worry on outsourcing; Hurt backer points out it’s ‘only two, three, four million jobs’
Next articleRobert Hurt and Uranium: Radioactive!