Monday, December 01, 2008

2009 Governors: Terry McAuliffe?

WE'VE MOVED! Democratic Convention Watch is now at

We've mentioned it before, here and here: Terry is thinking of running.

It's hard to know where to begin. Perhaps with what he has to say:

As I consider running for Governor, I plan on spending the next two months having a conversation with Virginians. I’m going to travel to every corner of our Commonwealth, my home for nearly 20 years, and share my vision for a Virginia that continues to lead the nation in public management, education, and business climate. How do we grow our economy to create more jobs and decrease the skyrocketing cost of living? How do we invest in the infrastructure we need to thrive as a state?
If you go over to his site, there is a place to sign up if you want to have Terry come and visit.

He'll be announcing his decision on 7 January.

First, the fun: Wrestling the alligator:
"Are you nuts? I'm from Syracuse, New York, the most dangerous animal I've ever seen is a squirrel. I ain't wrestling no alligator. "

-- To Seminole Chief Jim Billie of Florida, who pledged in 1980 to donate $15,000 to the Democratic Party if McAuliffe wrestled a 260-pound alligator for three minutes. McAuliffe eventually did it.
Yes, Terry has had an interesting life. Y'all know him from his work on the Clinton presidential campaign, but before that he spent a lifetime in Democratic politics, and did head the DNC. He has never held elective office.

Terry McAuliffe is a 51 year old, well-connected, life-long, political operative. This background certainly gives him the background necessary to launch a campaign, and possibly to win his own election.

The question is, would he make a good governor? Certainly, if one lives in Virginia and Terry runs, the choice of whether or not to vote for him would be influenced by who runs against him. But the more general question is: is it a good idea for political operatives to move over to elective politics?

On the one hand, understanding the system may well make "governing" easier as the learning curve is less than for, say, an academic coming into office. On the other hand, being a lifelong partisan may make it more difficult for the administration to find common ground with "the other side."

To me, the question is one of what does the candidate really stand for? When one is a political operative, especially someone who has worked for the party all his life, does that make his beliefs identical to those of the party? Or would he represent the needs of his constituency, which in this case would be the people of Virginia? Virginia is a recently blue state: is there a better chance to keep it blue by running a moderate or a progressive?

Terry went to college in DC, and has lived in Northern Virginia most all of his life since law school. So he counts as a local, if you count Northern Virginia as being representative of all of Virginia.

But what do you think?