As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, May 09, 2009

VA-Gov: Terry McAuliffe's Money To The Rescue

The NYT Mag has a profile of Terry McAuliffe, who to me represents the worst of the Clinton-era corporate Democrats, but who is re-inventing himself as a candidate for Governor of Virginia. He's simply swamping the state with money, much of it out-of-state (82%) and corporate money, and using his peripatetic style to attract votes. Apparently he's campaigning on a message of jobs - a keen political insight considering the country has lost 5.7 million of them in the last year-plus:

His campaign is tailored for these times. “Jobs is the issue — the issue, the issue, the issue,” Cranwell, the Virginia Democratic chairman, told me. And wherever McAuliffe goes, he is surrounded by campaign placards reading, “New Energy for New Jobs.” He talks everywhere, albeit often vaguely, about using economic incentives to attract out-of-state industry and to promote clean-energy technology. When Terry McAuliffe pitches Terry McAuliffe, it is not as the former head of the Democratic National Committee but as the businessman who started his first enterprise, tarring driveways for Syracuse neighbors, when he was 14. “If the biggest problem facing Virginia today were crime, Terry would not be a plausible candidate,” says Paul Begala, who first worked with McAuliffe on Richard Gephardt’s presidential campaign in 1988 [...]

As he campaigns, McAuliffe’s economic plan is “probably the most aggressive economic plan that has ever been put out in the country,” if McAuliffe does say so himself. By the time he is done as governor, he will “create more jobs than all the other 49 governors,” Virginia will supplant California as the film-production capital of the world and Old Dominion University in Norfolk will become the nation’s leading research university.

His business acumen, however, mainly involves shilling for candidates and taking money off the top of deals, not creating thousands of middle class jobs for Virginians. I mean, this is ridiculous:

In December, in response to Moran's claim to be the only candidate who had run a business and raised a family in Virginia, McAuliffe boasted of launching five businesses in Virginia.

It turned out that all five are investment partnerships, with no employees, registered to his home address in McLean.

McAuliffe may or may not have some liabilities - the $100,000 investment in the ultimately failed company Global Crossing, which netted him $18 million while employees lost their pensions - on the business and jobs front. He's always been a salesman, and that sales pitch might get him through an election. But I worry more about his policy menu:

There are a few policy differences among the Democrats, in particular Moran and McAuliffe. Moran opposes offshore oil and natural-gas drilling and the construction of a coal-burning plant in Surry, and he has pledged to fight to repeal a 2006 state constitutional amendment banning gay marriages and civil unions. McAuliffe has said he is open to coal-burning plants and offshore drilling for natural gas, though only under stringent circumstances. While McAuliffe says he also opposed the gay-marriage amendment, he has argued that it is politically unrealistic to think the state’s two Legislatures would ever vote to repeal it.

Terry McAuliffe strikes me as a huckster, not a leader. He'll compromise and not advocate. He'll listen to donors while talking to voters. And he's apparently winning the primary. I hope Brian Moran can come back.

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