In the end, L. Douglas Wilder was right about Terry McAuliffe.
Way back in December 2020, the former Virginia governor and Richmond mayor told Politico that he wondered why McAuliffe thought he was the answer to whatever it was that ailed the Democratic Party and Virginia as a whole:
“It would have to [have been] concluded by Mr. McAuliffe that things are in such dire shape, bad shape as far as the Democratic Party is concerned, that he has to do this — that he has himself considered the other candidates not worthy of the job,” Wilder said. “You just have to assume that. And the question then would be: Why?”
McAuliffe never had a definitive answer for “why.” And because he couldn’t tell people why they should give him a second stint in the Executive Mansion — something only Mills Godwin was able to achieve, under exotic circumstances, back in 1973 — voters simply couldn’t get excited about his candidacy.
And so McAuliffe lost to first-time candidate Glenn Youngkin. And the entire Democratic ticket went down with him. Republicans also reclaimed a slim majority in the House of Delegates for good measure.
That’s a stinging repudiation of McAuliffe, his ticket mates and House Democrats.
It also means McAuliffe, whose gubernatorial win-loss record falls to 1-2, is finished. That will hurt him personally, but the cold fact is Virginia voters have never been that into him. His bid for a second term always rubbed a lot of people the wrong way (see: Wilder, for example). Now they’ve made it clear the one-term limit means what it says. One term, and then goodbye and good luck to you.
This bit of electoral hygiene also means the incumbent, Ralph Northam (D), can shelve whatever vague sense he may have had about running again in the future. One term means one term.