Washington Secrets

Terry McAuliffe's squeaker win becomes model for 2014 Democrat campaigns

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Virginia Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe’s jobs-focused campaign, also characterized by highly negative advertising, will be the model for 2014 gubernatorial elections, in which Democrats hope to beat Republican incumbents in six states and make abortion defender Wendy Davis governor of Texas.

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, which raises and spends money to elect Democratic chief executives, said McAuliffe's victory Tuesday over a Tea Party favorite is the type of campaign expected to play out in Wisconsin, Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Maine and Pennsylvania next year.

“Virginia is a little window into 2014,” an engaging Shumlin told reporters today at a post-election breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

“I really do think that the race Terry McAuliffe ran in Virginia should be the model for Democratic candidates, and it will be,” added Shumlin.

Shumlin highlighted McAuliffe’s focus on job creation, education and fair taxes and challenger Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s ties to the Tea Party as the blueprint for Democrats to follow against conservative incumbent governors.

He claimed that many sitting GOP governors are instituting the types of conservative policies Cuccinelli pushed but were rejected by many in the election.

“We should win in states where governors have records,” said Shumlin, who shrugged off New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie’s overwhelming re-election by claiming that voters in the Democratic state were less interested in issues and more “focused on his oversized personality.”

Republican strategists said that they wouldn’t be concerned if Democrats used the McAuliffe model in upcoming elections, noting that he lost married women, health care voters and independents while outspending Cuccinelli by a wide margin to win the election by just 2.5 percentage points.

Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com.
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