Terry McAuliffe May Not See a Second Term
How quickly and how profoundly can the political landscape change? Former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe (D) is about to find out, as his bid for a second term has gone from inevitable to highly questionable.
And it’s not because of anything McAuliffe said or did.
It’s because events — and the chance to make history — have marginalized “the Macker” in ways few could have foreseen even a month ago.
McAuliffe put his own national ambitions aside last year to fill the public role his successor in the executive mansion, Ralph Northam (D), was unable to perform because of scandal. McAuliffe’s efforts helped give Democrats their first trifecta in the state in a generation. The appropriate reward would be a clear shot at a second term in 2021.
And it seemed that plan was still intact as late as May, when McAuliffe told The Post’s Laura Vozzella that while he was devoting his energies to helping his old friend and former vice president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, win the White House, “it’s a strong possibility that I’ll be running [for governor] again.”
That was before the protests and demonstrations following George Floyd’s death under the knee of a Minneapolis cop.
It was also before Del. Jennifer D. Carroll Foy (D-Prince William), one of the first women to graduate from the Virginia Military Institute, and state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond) officially declared gubernatorial bids.
Those protests (and the resulting calls for sweeping reforms in law enforcement, social policy, education and, in Virginia, a final reckoning with the Lost Cause mythology that bewitches so many) put McAuliffe’s plans in jeopardy.
The Carroll Foy and McClellan candidacies may have finished them off.
McAuliffe still has a reservoir of Democratic good will for his accomplishments as governor — perhaps the biggest of which was defeating Republican Ken Cuccinelli in the 2013 election. Contrary to the received wisdom in some circles, however, a second McAuliffe run — even before recent events — was never going to be a coronation.
McClellan, in particular, has always loomed as a formidable candidate for the Democratic nomination. Her challenge, as it is for any Richmond-based politician, is to get known outside the region.