POLITICS: PennAve

Longtime Virginia GOP strategist backs Terry McAuliffe

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A longtime Republican strategist in Virginia who has successfully guided GOP candidates in the Old Dominion for decades is throwing his weight behind Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the state’s high-profile governor race.

Boyd Marcus, last seen advising Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s now-defunct gubernatorial campaign, will endorse McAuliffe and assist his campaign. The Associated Press first reported the news.

“I am enthusiastically supporting Terry McAuliffe for governor because I believe he will work with both parties to advance an agenda that prioritizes economic growth. Virginia needs an experienced businessman who will put the practical needs of our people ahead of political ideology,” Marcus said in a statement released through the McAuliffe campaign. “I’ve never before supported any Democrat, but this election Terry is the clear choice for mainstream conservatives. I am excited to work with him to grow the already-long list of prominent Republican leaders who are supporting his campaign. Virginia is facing tremendous economic headwinds and we need a governor who is going to work with both parties.”

A spokeswoman for Republican nominee Ken Cuccinelli did not respond to a request for comment.

A Cuccinelli-backed effort to switch the state party’s nominating procedure from a primary to a convention pushed Bolling, Marcus’ candidate, out of the Republican race and created a rift in the Virginia GOP. Bolling has refused to endorse Cuccinelli, and both he and Marcus have often criticized the attorney general as a polarizing figure.

Marcus was the top strategist and then chief of staff to former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. He also has assisted the campaigns of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., former U.S. Sen. George Allen and President George H.W. Bush in 1988.

Doug Heye, deputy chief of staff to Cantor, said on Twitter that Marcus did not inform the Republican leader of his plan to back McAuliffe.

Cantor will host a fundraiser for Cuccinelli this week in Richmond.

The McAuliffe campaign did not say how much it will pay for Marcus’ services. The Allen campaign spent more than $160,000 for Marcus’ consulting work in last year’s Senate race, according to federal campaign finance reports.

Throughout the campaign, McAuliffe has sought the endorsements of moderate Republicans and often drops their names in speeches and candidate forums to come off as an aisle crosser and consensus builder. Adding Marcus bolsters that effort.

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