Press Club

The Right Note: Are Virginia Democrats Excited About Terry McAuliffe?

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

Mark KellyOn the way down to Richmond for the GOP convention, I found myself in the stop and go (mostly stop) traffic caused by the hazmat incident that shut down I-95 south for four hours. After slowly making our way around some back roads, my wife and I arrived at the junction of highway 17 and I-95 just as the interstate was being re-opened.

While waiting for the traffic to move, I spotted a man walking in the middle of the highway with water bottles and realized it was none other than Terry McAuliffe. The Democrats’ presumptive nominee for governor was politicking with fellow stranded motorists — a smart political move. There is no question that McAuliffe has a larger than life personality, an asset he is sure to bring to the campaign trail this year.

Before the Republican convention was gaveled to a close the next day, Virginia Democrats were attacking the Republican ticket as “too extreme for Virginia.” If that sounds familiar, it is precisely the same rhetoric they used unsuccessfully four years ago.

My counterpart here at ARLnow, former chairman of the Arlington Democrats and current State Democratic Committee member Peter Rousselot, got the memo and joined in the attack. In fact, he has written multiple columns attacking Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli. In last week’s column he even presumed to know what Arlington Republicans would think about the entire 2013 GOP ticket.

Rousselot’s most recent column did drop the specific criticism of health clinic regulations, presumably in light of the horrific Kermit Gosnell case in Pennsylvania. At the same time, Rousselot has written exactly zero columns supporting his party’s candidate. I do not recall that there has even been a single supportive sentence in his columns for McAuliffe.

This “attack first” strategy should not come as a surprise. McAuliffe failed to impress Democratic primary voters four years ago. He was called out as a forum shopping candidate with little to offer Virginia Democrats. He eventually lost the nomination contest convincingly to State Senator Creigh Deeds, who went on to lose to Governor McDonnell by more than 17 percentage points in November.

McAuliffe’s problems with the failed promises of GreenTech Automotive are well documented. In fact, McAuliffe’s overall business record raises a serious question — with no elective office to judge him on, does his record as CEO give voters confidence in his ability to manage the Commonwealth?

Cuccinelli is laying out a straightforward platform in this campaign. At the top of his list: more jobs in Virginia created by a more competitive economic environment.

Whether Republicans in Arlington agree with Cuccinelli on every “social issue” or not, they do appreciate one thing about him — what you see is what you get. This is a refreshing character trait in a politician and something that will appeal to Independents as well, particularly when put up against the slick-talking McAuliffe.

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

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