Democrats should ditch Terry McAuliffe and draft Jim Webb

Opening the email yesterday, I find a note from Terry McAuliffe’s campaign. “Like Terry on Facebook,” it says. I may follow his campaign, it’s part of what I do. But like him? That’s McAuliffe’s problem — even among Virginia Democrats.

One of the most scathing, and on-point, criticisms of candidate McAuliffe comes from my friend Waldo Jaquith. Waldo is not thrilled with either major party candidate running for governor next year (and his criticisms of Ken Cuccinelli are particularly blunt). But his take-down of McAuliffe borders on poetry:

Not one Democrat in a hundred is excited about McAuliffe. Democrats are fired up about him the same way that Republicans were fired up about Mitt Romney. The base will fake it through November and, if he loses, they’ll all say how they never really liked him in the first place. If he wins, of course, they always believed in him!

Virginia Democrats, then, find themselves in a real pickle. The President wins the state a second time and they retain the open Senate seat. They should be looking to expand those gains next year. But with McAuliffe having cleared the gubernatorial field, they are saddled with a candidate at the top of the ticket for whom there is not much like, are certainly no love.

As much as the conservative in me hopes they remain stuck with McAuliffe and are forced to have to defend his record as a Clinton bag man, I hope Virginia’s Democrats find a way to toss Terry over the side and get a candidate who can give the commonwealth the gubernatorial race it deserves.

The man for the task? Jim Webb.

I disagree with Mr. Webb politically. But he remains the one Virginia Democrat who could mount not only a credible campaign for governor, but could also win.

He dislikes campaigning, but he has a fondness for policy and ideas. Those latter points are essential for any successful governor. Webb also prefers to get things done — what better place to get busy than in one of the most powerful governorships in the nation?

The trick is convincing him to make one last go — at an office with a single term limit. He does his time, does everything he can to advance his agenda and then retires. A side benefit? He could be the one statewide Democratic candidate who could stop the party’s bleeding in his old stomping grounds of Southwest Virginia.

I hope he does make one last run. A contest between Webb and Ken Cuccinelli could give Virginia the kind of race it has not had in a very long time — one that would offer voters a clear choice of political visions.

We could use a contest like that. And as for Virginia’s Democrats, they need a serious, thoughtful, tough candidate like Jim Webb on the ticket. Otherwise, they become the punchline, on their way to becoming irrelevant.

  • “Virginia Democrats are currently saddled with a clown show candidate at the top of the ticket. They can do better, and Virginia will benefit.” Isn’t that a bit like the pot calling the kettle black? You would do better to simply accept the presumptive candidates of each party and let’s not reduce this to side show. There are significant policy differences between the two, and we ought to debate these, not some childish characterizations.

    • NormLeahy

      Go read the link to Waldo’s post and get back to me. Folks I respect hold McAuliffe in genuine contempt. So why should they settle for a candidate they so dislike when a truly interesting, popular and successful alternative is available?

      • pinecone321

        Norm- Why exactly are you so all in for the Democrat candidate, to the point that you are advising them on who they need to run to win the Gov. seat? You are a prolific poster here, and I thought, unless I’ve been mistaken, that this site was for Republicans/Conservatives. Has something changed without warning those that post/read here? or have you lost your mind? Maybe a little too much Christmas eggnog?

        • pinecone321

          Sorry Norm, I just read your bio above. A Washington Post contributor explains it all.

          • Yes, it explains that Norm is accomplished enough that the most important paper that circulates in Virginia cares enough to publish his material. The fact that he would like Virginians to have a choice between two accomplished, serious candidates doesn’t mean he’s rooting for the Democrats. It means he believes in giving voters a meaningful choice. Many Democrats are lamenting the fact that McAuliffe is apparently the best they can do. And they’re right to lament that fact. Norm is just pointing out there are alternatives for them.

          • pinecone321

            Brian Shoenman- I wouldn’t have expected anything else from you. Yup, we have to give Virginians a better Democrat choice. When a so-called Republican/Conservative website starts advising the other party of how they can do better against our candidate, we are in deep deep trouble. I truly am of the belief Brian that you have no political principles at all whatsoever. NONE. When anyone, and I mean anyone starts pushing for a “better” candidate for the other side, there is a name for that…………………..

          • It’s obvious to anyone paying attention that Brian Schoeneman belongs in the Democratic Party, not the GOP.

          • pinecone321

            Actually, from my obervations, Brian isn’t sure what party he belongs to on any given day. I guess it depends on where the needle on the wheel of misery lands on upon waking each morning.

          • The only thing that’s obvious here is that both of you chuckleheads are blind.

          • Also, we’re apparently all the audience you got. After weeks of listening to your nonsense I still can’t identify a single GOP policy issue you support. Claiming “you heard it here first” on something I heard over a year ago just reinforces how few people you actually listen to – probably all lawyers and lobbyists and campaign consultants and other political rent-seekers like yourself.

          • That’s funny, because after reading your nonsense for weeks I have yet to see you ever criticize a Democrat.

          • Then you have poor comprehension skills, which will come as a surprise to exactly no one. And no, it did not escape my notice that you deflected from the question of which Republican policies, if any, that you actually support.

            I got you pegged perfectly, and you can make damn sure I will make that known to a much wider Virginia GOP audience than this blog will ever have.

          • Really? When was the last time you’ve criticized a Democrat? You’ve attacked every LG candidate but Stimpson, you’ve crapped on George Allen, Chris Perkins, me, Norm – and you called Jim Webb “formidable,” which should be enough to get pinecone to call you a communist. I’ve yet to see you say a negative thing about a Democrat anywhere on Bearing Drift.

            If you want to know which Republican policies I support, click on “about us” above, find my name, click on it. Then read the hundred or so stories I’ve written over the last three years. I’m a fiscal conservative, I’m pro-life, pro-second amendment, in favor of keeping taxes low, reducing the regulatory burden on our businesses and solving problems using common sense. I really get tired of having to run through all of my political positions to satisfy folks too lazy to read. You spent enough time googling my resume, you could have figured this out yourself.

          • The last time I criticized a Democrat was earlier today, when I called McAuliffe a punching bag, and you didn’t even need to click a link to find that out.

            I did click your link and reviewed your articles. You’ve written exactly two policy articles since June 26th, which take totally opposite sides of the question of the right of self-determination – which is consistent with the unprincipled “say anything that makes me sound good to someone who’s not paying much attention to the details” stances I’ve come to expect from you. In the meantime you have consistently supported the most left-wing, anti-republican options in campaign after campaign.

            And of course you’ve made your career as an AFL-CIO labor union lobbyist, which really says all that there needs to be said.

          • Alexis. Beware. Brian doesn’t like being called out.

          • Go read my Tax Day article. Go read my defenses of Paul Ryan, or anything I wrote during the campaign. I don’t write policy articles because I’m a commentator, and so I comment about what’s in the news. That’s usually politics, not policy. As for taking totally opposite sides, I have no idea what you’re referencing.

            McAuliffe as a punching bag – that’s some hard hitting analysis.

            I’ve made my career as a maritime lobbyist. I’ve spent five years lobbying for two maritime unions, four years lobbying on behalf of shipping companies and one year in the government. Pull my lobbying reports and take a look at the issues I lobby on.

            You really have no clue what you’re talking about, as usual.

          • Tom Simpson

            Oops….count one more in the audience : o )

          • Then go ahead and place me in that party of two you have conjured up.

          • How hard is it to spell my name when it’s written directly above what you just wrote? Seriously?

            We aren’t in trouble at all. Norm is lamenting that it’s a shame that this election is between a solid Republican candidate and a joke Democratic candidate. He’s not advocating or rooting for Jim Webb for governor.

            Wouldn’t it be nice for voters to have a choice between two good candidates for both sides? Where even if the other guy wins you at least have some confidence in their ability to do the job?

            I have political principles, they are simply different from yours. What I find most frustrating in people like you is the way you treat this whole thing like it’s some kind of game.

          • Brian, why do you even spend bandwidth responding to these trolls?

          • It amuses me.

          • NormLeahy

            I cannot help but feed the trolls here a moment…

            I’ve known Ken for a long time. I’ve interviewed him many times, contributed to his AG run, and even did a bit of work for him back in the day. He’s the only statewide candidate to whom I’ve ever contributed.

            And he will be the next governor.

            Why do I give Democrats a bit of unsolicited advice here? Because it’s fun. And it’s necessary. Without a vigorous opposition party to keep Republicans sharp and honest, they tend to become complacent, and propose silly things like tax increases and more spending. Oops…

          • The ONLY statewide candidate you have EVER contributed to? And you are a contributing editor here because….?

  • Since I have a debt to Jim Webb, I hope you’re wrong about this….

  • MD Russ


    I had to check the calendar to make sure it is December and not April 1st. Really? Do you think that Webb could win statewide or is he a weaker Democrat than even Rum Bottle McAuliffe? The only reason Webb won a single term in the Senate was because George Allen stepped in a big pile of macaca while gliding to reelection. Despite that tailwind, Webb was elected with one of the smallest margins of the 2006 election cycle, if memory serves me. Couple that with his famous temper and serial marriages, and I doubt that even Democrats would vote for him, much less Independents. Why do you think that he is retiring from the Senate after one term?

  • Webb would be a formidable opponent. McAuliffe would be a punching bag. But I think Webb is tired of all the BS in politics and wants out.

  • While it’s pretty obvious many Democrats aren’t satisfied with McAuliffe, we need to address the fact Cuccinelli isn’t polling well against the worst candidate Democrats can put forth. It’s easy to be dismissive about Quinnipiac’s 4-point advantage for McAuiliffe, but even Gov. McDonnel’s internal polling shows the general election in a dead heat.

    The sooner we acknowledge the challenge ahead of us, the better. We can’t afford to repeat the mistake of presuming victory simply because we know how weak the Democrat candidate is (i.e. Obama and Kaine), we have to make sure everyone else knows it too. There’s a big challenge ahead and it’s time to roll up our sleeves.

    • Nobody thinks this is going to be a cakewalk. But the reality is those numbers only reflect the highly partisan voters who know both candidates. It’s way to early to be polling this horse race when no one except us junkies have even begun paying attention.

      • You’re right about it being early and mostly partisans are falling behind either candidate this early. However, partisans on both sides make up a very large share of the electorate. For example, McDonnell’s poll showed 15% undecided, leaving a narrow slice up for grabs that we need to start pursuing right now. We already know who the candidates are going to be, barring an unlikely independent bid or new Democrat candidate, so let’s not rest on our laurels simply because the nominating contest for Governor is largely over.

  • DJRippert

    People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.

    People could question Cuccinelli’s “electability” as easily as you question McAuliffe’s ability to win. A certain conservative minority in Virginia loves Cuccinelli. However, perhaps a larger minority absolutely hates the man. Many Democrats were dancing in the streets when the RPV decided to hold a convention and pushed Bolling out of the race.

    I also find it interesting that people dislike McAuliffe but can’t explain why. Cuccinelli is another matter altogether. People who dislike Cuccinelli can list his “sins” like they are reciting a nursery rhyme.

    In my opinion McAuliffe will more easily overcome the vague negatives that follow him than Cuccinelli will overcome his very specific negatives. Cuccinelli makes Romney and Allen look moderate. Did the RPV learn anything from the last election?

    Would Webb be a better candidate? Probably. So wold Mark Warner. But they won’t run. Would Bolling be a better candidate? Probably. But he’s been pushed aside.

    We have Cuccinelli vs McAuliffe. Let’s get on with it.

  • pinecone321

    I must say that you either hate Ken Cuccinelli that much, or are convinced that the Democrats are going to win the Gov. seat that you are actively looking for the best Democrat that will beat Cuccinelli. I am actually scratching my head at why someone who purports to be a “conservative” would be all in with giving advice to the Democrats on how they have a better chance at winning.

  • Tom Simpson

    What a superb idea!!!! James leaving, Olympia leaving, Kent Conrad leaving, the Senate is truly going to the dogs. The single bright spot is Jim Demint, and even that depends on Nikki Haley appointing Steve Colbert to replace him.

    But this would put Webb back to productive work, and Good Heavens, don’t we need more of this. What we are looking at here is every bit as good as the trade of Corzine for Christie in New Jersey. Have at it.

  • I realize no one pays me much mind around here. But I wrote somewhere deep in long-lost bowels of BD a few weeks ago that this race was screaming for an Independent. I really wouldn’t pin my hopes on Bolling, but considering the dissatisfaction by the D’s with T Mac and the Repubs with Cooch and the relatively PRAGMATIC voters of Virginia, there really could be room for an Independent candidate in this race for Governor. Bolling may be that man. Webb could be, maybe, except I really don’t think he’d be at all interested. All I do know is that aside from the hard core social-issue types, Cooch does not have a fan base. And T Mac? Same problem. A genuine enthusiasm gap on both sides. Something I find lamentable.

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