The Right Note: McAuliffe’s GreenTech Problem

by Mark Kelly February 14, 2013 at 1:30 pm 62 Comments

The Right Note is a weekly opinion column by published on Thursdays. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.

GOP county board candidate Mark KellyIn politics, when you are explaining, you are losing. This is a tried and true statement.

Terry McAuliffe, the Democrats’ nominee for governor, is trying to explain away his decision to locate a GreenTech Automotive plant, and the 1,500 manufacturing jobs that go with it, in Mississippi instead of Virginia.

McAuliffe initially tried to blame the GreenTech plant location decision on a lack of support from the Virginia Economic Development Partnership. After examining the email trail on the matter, PolitiFact rated McAuliffe’s claim as “false,” and the AP seems to agree. It appears that McAuliffe’s company never really tried that hard to put the plant here in Virginia.

While we cannot blame a company for locating its facilities in a state that makes the most sense for its bottom line, it is certainly fair game to ask why McAuliffe, and his well known gubernatorial ambitions, did not locate the plant and jobs here. McAuliffe has maintained an active political presence pointed to the 2013 campaign in Virginia since losing to Creigh Deeds in the 2009 Democratic primary.

Every governor wants, or should want, to create an environment where businesses develop and grow. Governor McDonnell has made it a point of emphasis for Virginia to rank high on the list of “best states to do business” each year. Both McAuliffe and the Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli will likely make the economy a top issue in their campaigns.

GreenTech was the perfect business for McAuliffe to point to for his economic bonafides in a run for governor of Virginia. It appeals to Northern Virginia concerns about transportation and the environment. And, he could have certainly found a suitable location in Virginia with a manufacturing labor force ready to go.

So, it is hard to understand why he would not attempt to move heaven and earth to locate the GreenTech plant here in Virginia rather than outsourcing to Mississippi.

McAuliffe’s bigger problem with voters may not even be that he made a controversial business decision, but that he felt compelled to try and rewrite history about the decision. By attempting to spin his way out of the problem, he actually made the problem worse. Now, McAuliffe can probably look forward to hearing “he created hundreds of jobs in Mississippi instead of Virginia then lied about it” all the way through election day in November.

Mark Kelly is a former Arlington GOP Chairman and two-time Republican candidate for Arlington County Board.

  • ARL

    This is a strange column coming from someone who supported corporate raider & job exporter/killer Mitt Romney for president.

    • Rory


    • novasteve

      So I take it Obama wasn’t allowed to change his mind on gay marriage (to get compaign money) because he didn’t previously support it?

      • Flat525

        Did Fidel Castro have a shot in baseball? Did it change history? Is Lindsay Lohan acceptable to change? If you fail to agree, then by definition you agree.

      • English Composition Teacher

        What? I fail to see “Obama”, “change his mind”, “gay marriage”, “campaign money” in the article.

      • Rory

        He actually supported it back in the day, and then changed his mind in 08 (to be more electable).

        Then he saw it wasn’t a political negative anymore, so he came out and supported it.

        • Jules

          The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children

        • novasteve

          so even more shameless opportunism.

      • ARL

        Has Mark Kelly changed his mind about Romney?

    • Mike

      Um, er, well, not quite. Romney was the job creator; Obama is the job killer. You could look it up. It’s true.

      • Mike

        I saw it on FOX News.

    • SouthArlJD


  • Garden City

    If the GOP can come up with a less reactionary candidate than the current AG, I might think about voting for the Republican candidate. However, as it seems the process has been rigged to get Cuccinelli onto the ballot (a nominating convention, not a primary election, ensuring right-wing dominance), a candidate to the left of Benedict XVI is probably not going to appear on the GOP ticket

    • yequalsy

      Exactly. McAuliffe is a hack but the Repubs seem determined to make him governor.

    • BBMS

      They can afford to run Cooch this time around because Terry is one person that virtually anybody in the Republican stable could beat just by showing up. Too much old Clinton era baggage, I mean if there was a definition for political carpetbagging his picture would be next to it..

      • drax

        Virtually anybody except Cooch. Don’t count your chickens yet.

      • ARL

        Yeah, 2 years ago they were absolutely sure they were going to knock off Obama no matter who they nominated.

        • BBMS

          I’m only talking about Virginia state politics. That’s what I meant by “they”.

          • ARL

            But the same point applies – overconfidence in politics. And “they” refers to Republicans in general. So if you prefer: 2 years ago, Virginia Republicans were absolutely sure they were going to win Virginia’s electoral votes no matter who the GOP nominee was.

          • BBMS

            Were they? I don’t really recall specifically.

          • jackson

            You remember McAuliffe’s connections to Clinton from between 12 and 20 years ago but do not recall republicans claiming Virginia was Romney’s one to two years ago.

      • WestoverNative

        Terry has lived in Va for over 20 years. I wouldn’t consider him a newcomer/carpetbagger…

      • confused

        yeah cause peace, budget surpluses, prosperity under a centrist Dem prez were so terrible.

        I do not get this “OMG! he was close to Clinton!” thing.

  • Karzai’s Mammy

    I thought Republicans hated anything “green”.

    • drax

      Yep – if this had come to Virginia they’d be bashing it as a waste.

      • Turnabout is fair play

        You’re always holding the conservatives/Republicans/whomever accountable for their off-the-cuff comments, so…what examples of Republicans calling job creation in Virginia “a waste” are you thinking of? Extra points if you have an example that cites Mark Kelly.

  • JimPB

    The writer asserts that Terry McAuliffe is the Democrats’ nominee for governor. Is that true?

    • CrystalMikey

      I think he pretty much is…

      • BBMS

        With Warner not running, they can’t seem to find anyone else. Nobody from the in-state ranks at least. That’s kind of surprising. I think it’s taken a lot of their resources to maintain their balance in the general assembly. The executive position comes up secondary.

  • Gary Sinese

    Since republicans love green jobs so much I’m sure they’ll really pitch a fit.

    • Forrest

      Lieutenant Dan !!!

  • Chris

    Virginia should have given a much bigger tax credit. That way we’ll have a nice race-to-the-bottom between MI and VA.

    • Cross

      How did Michigan get involved?

  • Adam

    Well written opinion piece, logical and straight-forward, sure to get the left all hot and bothered and get them to spew some MSNBC talking points and maybe even some name calling. This should be fun.

    • Deadite

      Not a very well written opinion piece, hypocritical and biased, sure to get the right all fired up until they realize this guy told only half the story and still managed crap all over a business decision that was ripped straight from the conservative playbook. I agree that this should be fun 🙂

    • Josh S

      Not well written because it assumes too much from the reader. I have basically no idea what he’s talking about even after having read this far in the comments. The context of being on the ARLNow blog provides no assistance.

      In any case, why would private citizen McAulliffe have to explain a decision about where to locate his business? Why would it be controversial? Is there some hint of impropriety concerning the reasons to locate in MS instead of VA?

      This seems very much like a desperate attempt to drum up controversy where none exists.

      • Hattie McDaniel

        Sort of like Benghazi.

  • Garden Citiy, The VA GOP did the same thing to both Tom Davis and Dave Foster- two reasonably minded repubilcans who had a viable chance of winning statewide. Tom Davis was the only person who could have truly challenged Mark Warner in 2008, yet he was pushed out because their party leadership decided to hold a caucus, instead of a primary. The same happened to Dave Foster when he was thinking of running for AG against Cuccinelli.

  • Deadite

    Wow, a GOP stoolie bashing someone else for outsourcing jobs. The audacity of this piece is amazing. What’s that they say about those who live in glass houses?

    • confused

      i agree – but since when is missisippi a foreign country.

      • Y’all

        ” but since when is missisippi a foreign country.”

        Have you ever been there ??

      • Deadite

        I said outsourcing, not offshoring. Maybe you should go look those terms up so you can understand the difference. But come to think of it, this wasn’t even outsourcing; it was just a company looking for a way to minimize its costs.

  • Dezlboy

    This is a red herring. As MyCar CEO, McAuliffe’s responsibility was to do what was best for the company, and moving to Alabama was apparently the best. Can’t fault McAuliffee for applying the basic rules of capitalism and maximizing chances for success.
    If McAuliffe becomes VA governor, I woujld expect him to act in a similar fashion, but this time for VA’s interest.

    • Justin Russo

      moving to Alabama was apparently the best.

      So THAT explains why it went to Mississippi. Clever of McAuliffe.

      • drax

        I don’t think there’s actually two different states. It’s just one big Missabama.

        • Dezlboy

          Hey, I’m just learning to be a Southerner, give me a break, and pass the grits! 😉

    • Why

      do Republicans hate capitalism now?

      • Josh S

        Sort of takes a bit of the luster off their “the free market, the free market” stance, doesn’t it?

      • Reston Rag

        He is saying we want more capitalism in Virginia, rather than other states.

        Why do you hate Virginia?

        • drax

          Nice try. You should have written this column instead of Kelly.

        • Herndon Hag

          Yes, since Virginia is such a socialist hellhole.

          • drax

            Here’s my revised headline for this column:

            “McDonnell fails to attract major manufacturer to Virginia.”

            Which is basically what McAuliffe said – Virginia’s government could have had it if they had worked harder to get it. McAuliffe can’t expect a company to choose where to put its facilities based on his political ambitions. It’s not his personal company, nor is it a campaign operation.

          • Kyle

            Where did he say that?

  • Mary-Austin

    I’ve never been more unimpressed by both major party candidates as much as I am with Cuccinelli and McAulliffe.

    • DCBuff

      2000 election: W Bush and Al Gore?

      • Mary-Austin

        I was 12.

  • jackson

    “Now, McAuliffe can probably look forward to hearing “he created hundreds of jobs in Mississippi instead of Virginia then lied about it” all the way through election day in November.”

    “At least I sure as heck hope so!” –Mark Kelly

  • yup I went there

    What we really need, and I think both parties can agree on this, is a law that states “All the manufacturing establishments of the country, of any size and nature, were forbidden to move from their present locations.” That should help stabilize industry here in the States during a time of economic crisis.

    • Deadite

      Can’t tell if sarcasm … or serious.


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