HERNDON, VA - MAY 13: Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe (L) campaigns with former President Bill Clinton (R) at Frying Pan Park May 13, 2009 in Herndon, Virginia. McAuliffe is locked in a three way race for the Democratic nomination which will take place on June 9, 2009. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Perhaps buoyed by the success of his fellow Dems in Virginia, Terry McAuliffe announced to supporters that he would run for governor of the state.
McAuliffe -- a veteran political adviser and former chair of the Democratic National Committee -- has long been mulling a run for governor, but said he would only enter the race if Senator Mark Warner decided not to run.
McAuliffe’s decision, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that Warner won’t run. If fact, since Election Day, rumors have only heightened about Warner -- a former Virginia governor and current U.S. senator -- entering the race.
On Wednesday, NBC 12’s Ryan Nobles confirmed that Warner was indeed considering a run for governor and plans to make a final decision around Thanksgiving.
The Post reports that Warner gave McAuliffe the go-ahead to run anyway, saying “Don’t wait on my decision. Do what you want to do.”
Warner’s Senate term doesn’t end until November 2014, but the gubernatorial race is in November 2013. So if he run and wins, he will leave his seat early. In Virginia, the sitting governor fills a vacant Senate seat by appointment -- and Gov. McDonnell would almost certainly appoint a Republican to finish up the remainder of the term.
But there is definitely appeal for Warner in the governor’s mansion, a position which he held from 2002-2006. Warner has publicly said that Senate's inability to get things done there sometimes frustrates him. Furthermore, if he did enter the race, he would automatically be the frontrunner.
Lt Gov. Bill Bolling and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are still battling for the GOP nomination, but a September Washington Post poll showed that Warner could handily take down either one of them.
According to the poll, nearly 30 percent of Virginia voters said they would definitely vote for Warner and 22 percent would rule him out. In comparison, 12 percent said they would vote for Cuccinelli and 41 percent said they would vote against him; 7 percent said they would vote for Bolling, and 30 percent said they would vote against him.
Warner also significantly outpolled McAuliffe.
McAuliffe ran for governor in 2009, but lost the Democratic primary to State Sen. Creigh Deeds, who later lost the race to now Gov. Bob McDonnell.
There is one heavyweight urging Warner to not run: his good friend Senator-Elect Tim Kaine. In his post-election presser, Kaine said he “hopes Warner isn’t going anywhere.”
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