Deeds Wins Democratic Nomination for Governor of Virginia

Voter turnout light

RICHMOND, Va. -- Terry McAuliffe had the star power.  He had the cash.  But even with all the sparkle and pizazz, he still couldn't beat an underdog state senator.

Creigh Deeds pounded Clinton confidante McAuliffe Tuesday in Virginia's Democratic primary for governor.

McAuliffe was a former Clinton White House insider and former Democratic National Committee chairman who hoped to benefit from campaigning by former President Bill Clinton and music star  But Deeds, who picked up a crucial Washington Post endorsement in northern Virginia, was too much for McAuliffe and former state Democratic legislative leader Brian Moran to handle.

On Wednesday morning, Deeds had to end a planned unity news conference to take a congratulatory call from President Barack Obama. Before the call Deeds, appeared with Gov. Tim Kaine and the two men he defeated.

Deeds' victory sets up a Deeds rematch with Republican Bob McDonnell, who beat him in the 2005 attorney general election by 323 votes.

McDonnell is a conservative with strong ties to religious broadcaster Pat Robertson. He was unopposed for the GOP nomination.

Deeds was the only Democrat in the race not from the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Primary rivals criticized him for legislative votes supporting Virginia's broad, pro-gun laws, actions popular in rural areas that don't play well in cities and affluent suburbs.

Former state Finance Secretary Jody Wagner defeated Democratic campaign strategist A. Michael Signer to become the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor. Wagner will take on Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who is seeking a second term.

Wagner served as state treasurer under former Gov. Mark Warner and as finance secretary for Gov. Tim Kaine. Signer was a deputy counselor to Warner and a senior strategist for U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello's upset of six-term congressman Virgil Goode Jr. last year.

Voter turnout was relatively light Tuesday, as expected.

The primary marked the first bid for elective office for McAuliffe, who also led Hillary Clinton's 2008 White House run.

Local election officials, professionals in the three campaigns and political scientists said the turnout was likely to be 5 percent or less of the state's 5 million registered voters.

Officials said turnout was heavier in some parts of the Washington, D.C., suburbs. In Arlington, for instance, about 10 percent of voters cast ballots, drawn by a House of Delegates race. State Board of Elections Secretary Nancy Rodrigues said other turnout ranged from 4 percent in Richmond to 2 percent in the rural southwest.

McAuliffe's political connections from his days working for Bill Clinton helped him dominate press coverage and amass a hefty amount of cash. He seized on the down economy by promising to bring jobs to Virginia, touring the state with his confidante Bill Clinton. However, that left the venture capitalist open to attacks over his involvement in a telecommunications firm that made him millions before the company went bust, leaving 10,000 people jobless and costing investors $54 billion.

Moran, from Alexandria, went further to the left than his rivals in appealing to liberal activists. He pledged to oppose new coal-fired power initiatives and reverse the state's same-sex marriage ban.

Deeds hewed toward the middle. He drew fire late from primary rivals for legislative votes supporting Virginia's broad, pro-gun laws, actions popular in rural areas that don't play well in cities and affluent suburbs.

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, the new Democratic National Committee chairman, is barred by the state Constitution from seeking re-election.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us