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Sure, Former DNC Chairman & Businessman Terry McAuliffe has to clear the decks in the Democratic primary.  Brian Moran & Creigh Deeds are grumpy Richmond-heavy fellas that don’t like the charming Mr. McAuliffe coming in and messing up their little “it’s my turn” party…. but so what?  If the establishment of either party were remotely competent – Hillary or McCain would have been president right now. 

So, let’s set that to the side.  Look, I am a Republican.  Once upon a time I was a Virginia voter… and much as I love the Fitzhugh Mafia – they best get Bob McDonnell up to speed, despite his status as sitting Attorney General – Terry McAuliffe is the happiest warrior on the Left.  He’s got more mojo in his smile than all the high wattage hope-n-change message of Barack Obama.  And… if Tim Kaine’s droll nature got elected… and Mark  Warner can ride the “Warner” coat-tails for the better part of the last decade…. Terry McAuliffe must be taken seriously.

Condescension has its place.  But so does tone.  Ideas matter.  Listening matters.  Get McDonnell outside of the Chesapeake box – get him out of the evangelical call-center – introduce him to the rest of Virginia.  You can bet Terry McAuliffe will be everywhere.

Below is his first TV ad.  Not a hint of his longtime authority in the ‘establishment.’   In the interest of full disclosure – I have met both gentlemen.  McDonnell in the trenches during the 2000 Campaign, and McAuliffe at The Caucus Room (the restaurant he & Haley Barbour were among original investors in) – along with then newly minted Senator George Allen, and the delightful then-Senator Fred Thompson – at a party hosted by Bill Maher… who was in town filming “Politically Incorrect” at Howard University. 

McDonnell is smart, serious, accomplished – former military man, devoted husband & father.  McAuliffe has been a partisan since age 22, when during the Carter campaign he wrestled an alligator for a $15,000 donation.  McAuliffe has been a successful entrepreneur since age 14 when he founded a driveway maintenance business.  Both are good men – I like both very much as individuals.

Consultants and camapign advisers to McDonnell have their work cut out for them.  Much as I adore the Fitzhugh Mafia, they haven’t been successful since former Governor George Allen was elected to the US Senate in 2000.  The same-old business as usual won’t do it this time.  A quick look at the expenditure reports on VPAP reveal a lot of info – but with McAuliffe raising money hand over fist, he will soon be at parity with McDonnell.  Once he clinches that nomination – it will be more than uphill for McDonnell.  Not because he lacks ideas, or solid policy positions.  He does.  But McAuliffe may make a more persuasive case, and he isn’t hard Left – like most prominent Virginia Democrats… his positions are akin to recently retired US Senator John Warner, a Republican.

The best news for the GOP is that McDonnell is unchallenged for the GOP nomination – because McAuliffe would have walked to the Governor’s Mansion had Bolling been a real contender for the seat.  Here is McAuliffe’s first television ad:

Buckle up, folks.

—Media Lizzy