Washington Secrets

Clinton pal McAuliffe readies Va. gubernatorial bid

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Politics,Virginia,Paul Bedard,Washington Secrets,Columnists

Northern Virginia businessman and Clintonista Terry McAuliffe is still waiting for Sen. Mark Warner to give him the green light to run for governor again, but that's not braking his underground campaign to convince Old Dominion voters that he's one of them.

"We're working hard," the former Democratic Party chairman told Secrets. "I've done 2,400 events in the last four years," added McAuliffe, who lost his first gubernatorial bid in 2009 but hasn't stopped dreaming about having his portrait hung on the wall of governors in the state capitol building.

What's more, McAuliffe believes he knows who the GOP will choose at their gubernatorial convention next year to run for governor: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. "I think so," he said when asked if he thought the conservative firebrand would best Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling. That could set up a classic left-right 2013 campaign.

First, said McAuliffe, he's waiting for Warner to decide if he wants to run for a second term as governor. Warner is up for reelection in 2014. Should he decide to stay in the Senate, as many Democrats expect, McAuliffe will be ready to run.

He's likely to campaign on a jobs and green energy platform. Over his life, he's started dozens of companies, but is most known in Virginia now for bringing an electric car company to the state from China and turning a shuttered International Paper plant into an industrial wood pellet firm. "I did what I said I was going to do, I created jobs," he said.

Running more as a Joe Sixpack Democrat than the insider role he had as former President Bill Clinton's money-man and Hillary Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign manager, McAuliffe said he's established himself as a leading Virginia businessman and political player with a plan to help the state recover from the recession.

And over the last four years, as he's traveled through the state and built businesses in rural areas, he's been able to deepen his Virginia roots.

That should help him overcome one of the main reasons voters rejected him in 2009. "I think the biggest issue when I first ran, in fairness, is that a lot folks didn't think I lived in Virginia. They said, 'I see Terry on TV, but I didn't know he lived here,' and that's all gone," he said.

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