Is it too early to talk 2013?
Not for some people. Including a grassroots movement hoping to convince Northern Virginia Senator Chap Petersen to consider a race for Governor in 2013. Today, they released this web video on the left leaning blog Not Larry Sabato (run by former Petersen staffer Ben Tribbett), offering Petersen as a viable alternative to a presumed Ken Cuccinelli candidacy:
The ad is more anti-Cuccinelli than it is pro-Petersen. But it is an early indication of how sides are already being drawn in what will be a competitive race for the governorship in 2013.
Perhaps the reason that the ad is more about Cuccinelli and less about Petersen is because the Democratic field, 3 and half years out, is already starting to get crowded. Supporters of Petersen are hoping to strike a chord of unification among Democrats and at this point of 2010, nothing unifies Democrats more than Ken Cuccinelli.
Democrats appear to be trying to get a head start, in an effort to prevent what happened in 2009. A bitter primary amongst three candidates, that didn’t really get their campaigns moving until late 2008, or in some cases early 2009. Instead of the field stocking up in late 2012, several Democrats are looking to make their name now, perhaps in an effort to “clear the field.” It is a prospect that is much easier given that there is no clear alternative voice to what is a Commonwealth with three statewide elected Republicans running the show.
So who is attempting to make a name for themselves?
First the Democrats:
*Terry McAuliffe- At this point any conversation about the Democratic candidates for Governor must begin with the former DNC chair. McAuliffe has the most money and the most friends in high places. (You saw him with Mick Jagger and Bill Clinton at the World Cup right?) McAuliffe was dismissive with me on First at 4 when we asked directly about his interest in running for Governor, but finding people who don’t think he is running is a difficult proposition. He and his formidable wealth will be difficult for any prospective candidate to contend with, but it has obviously been done before. This time around though, McAuliffe is spending 4 years building an infrastructure, instead of 4 months.
*Del. Ward Armstrong- The ranking Democrat in the House of Delegates is slowing building a reputation as an outspoken alternative to the McDonnell agenda. Armstrong is liked by many, is an eloquent speaker and has strong support in the south and west where Democrats typically aren’t very strong. However, Democrats are still smarting over their experiment with a similar candidate in Creigh Deeds and some are already sounding alarm bells about his stance on issues like gun control. Armstrong seem poised to take the leap and he will be difficult to ignore.
*Sen. Chap Petersen- who has attempted statewide runs before unsuccessfully is in many ways the anti-Deeds. A sharp, articulate Northern Virginian, Petersen is rock-solid on the key issues that Democrats care about. His problem is one of anonymity. Petersen’s name identification is low and he would be forced to raise a lot of money to change that scenario. It’s a scenario that becomes even more difficult when you consider Terry McAuliffe will be dumping millions to make sure he does not go 0-2 in Democratic primaries.
Other names are bound to emerge, such as former House Democratic leader Brian Moran, Sen. Donald McEachin a one time candidate for Attorney General and even Rep. Tom Perriello who if he is successful this year (which is not a given) has the potential to be a rock star in the Virginia Democratic party.
What about the Republicans?
While names may pop up between now and then make no mistake, this is a two-man race. The two men who have already been elected statewide and will have to meet face to face to determine who gets to be the party standard-bearer.
*Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling- Bolling has already stepped aside for the good of the party, when he did not challenge Bob McDonnell for the party’s nomination. Now he stands poised to be anointed the party nominee. McDonnell has already hinted at Bolling being his heir apparent and the LG is already raising cash in preparation for a tough race. Bolling is a rock solid, experienced politician who rarely makes a mistake. However, he is also not that kind that elicits excitement from the party base. He is hoping Republicans remember what he did to leave the field open for McDonnell to win by a landslide. He is hoping the same courtesy is extended to him.
*Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli- For the record, Cuccinelli has never expressed an interest in running for Governor. Privately, his close associates say that he is not interested in becoming the Chief Executive. He is a lawyer by trade and serving as Attorney General is for him the pinnacle. That was of course before Cuccinelli became a media super star. Love him or hate him, the AG has received perhaps the most exposure of any official in Virginia. He has turned that into a fund-raising network around the country. His support from the base is electric. His opposition on the left is dangerous. Cuccinelli will be in position to make a run. The question is, will he want to do it?
My guess is that it won’t be long until this post becomes old news. Many of the candidates will step aside and new ones will probably emerge. I think I answered my own question. It is never too early to talk about the next election.
Any guesses for candidates in 2017?