Former Virginia Governor McAuliffe Decides Against 2020 Presidential Run

After widespread speculation that former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe would throw his name into the already-crowded presidential race, he sent an email Wednesday indicating otherwise:

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to bring the Democratic Party and the American people back from the devastating loss and division we’ve faced since 2016. And, increasingly, people have asked me what role I am going to play in that effort.

He added:

Success this year would mean, for the first time in 26 years, Virginia Democrats would control the House, Senate, and Governorship: a trifecta that will push the Commonwealth forward with a strong economic platform and progressive agenda.

Reporter Jonathan Martin with the New York Times noted McAuliffe’s response: “ ‘I would have loved to have run for president,’ Mr. McAuliffe said in a telephone interview, but he conceded it would have been ‘a hard primary.’ ”

It had been speculated that McAuliffe would not enter the race if former Vice President Joe Biden decided to run. From the Times article:

Part of Mr. McAuliffe’s challenge was that party activists appeared to be gravitating toward candidates who were more liberal than him, such as Mr. Sanders and Senator Kamala Harris, or eyeing next-generation prospects such as former Representative Beto O’Rourke and Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Ind.

Mr. McAuliffe was dissuaded by the early shape of the race and complained to allies in private that many Democratic voters seemed to care little about experience and accomplishments, according to advisers.

But it is the long-anticipated entry of Mr. Biden, who would be the most experienced candidate in the race, that complicated Mr. McAuliffe’s ambitions more than anybody. He would have run on a similar, consensus-oriented platform as Mr. Biden and would have been pursuing many of the same fund-raisers and donors.

“Clearly Biden was in the same area and is a former vice president of the United States,” Mr. McAuliffe said.

Mr. McAuliffe’s allies expect him to get behind Mr. Biden. The two are longtime friends and have talked repeatedly in recent months about their intentions. Mr. Biden has made clear to Mr. McAuliffe that he wanted the former governor to play a prominent role in his campaign, if Mr. McAuliffe did not run himself, according to multiple Democrats familiar with their conversations.

Does McAuliffe have an eye toward Richmond again?

However, that does not necessarily mean he will not seek office again: His decision to plunge back into Virginia suggests he may attempt to become only the second governor in state history to serve a second term (sitting governors are barred by law from seeking consecutive terms).

Looks as if we may be seeing more of Terry McAuliffe in the coming months. Here is the rest of his Wednesday email:

Over the past several months, Democratic activists, longtime friends, and quite a few people on the street have encouraged me to run for President. I would stack my record of job creation and progressive accomplishments as Governor up against anyone. Even though it would have been a very difficult primary — especially breaking through in a field of 20 candidates — I thought long and hard about it.

At the same time, I’ve heard from many Virginia Democrats who have rightly conveyed the urgency of our state elections this November and have asked me to help lead our efforts.

At the end of the day, the reason I got into politics was to make a difference in people’s lives. It’s what I did as Governor: fighting to expand health care access, restore voting rights, protect women’s rights, and create good jobs with good wages. I believe the place where I can make the biggest difference right now is working to elect the first progressive majority in recent Virginia history.

The stakes are enormous: A Democratic legislature would have the ability to fund and improve education for every Virginia family, to expand voting rights, to protect Medicaid expansion and make health care more affordable, and to crack down on gun violence.

There are many great Democratic candidates running for President, including many of my friends. I am confident that we will defeat Donald Trump in 2020 with optimistic and realistic solutions that create opportunity and a secure future for all Americans.

But, before then, 2019 is upon us. My obligation and yours is to do everything possible to win our state legislative races, which will have such a profound impact on Virginians and set the stage for 2020.

Dorothy and I are so grateful for all of your support and encouragement as I’ve reached this decision. And I’ll hope you’ll join us in the fight ahead.

It was signed, simply, “Terry.”

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