He’s been there before, and has no desire to repeat the experience.
Terry McAuliffe, who aspires to become Virginia’s first governor in two generations to serve a second term, said while he’d be happy to get his old gig back, he doesn’t want one aspect of his first term to accompany him into a second.
“I do not want to be a governor with a Republican legislature,” McAuliffe told members of the Arlington Senior Democrats during an online campaign stop on April 13.
Such was the case when McAuliffe last occupied the Governor’s Mansion – from 2014 to 2018 – in an era that proved the last gasp of Republicans’ two-decade run controlling the levers of political power in Virginia.
The GOP “controlled everything” at the time, McAuliffe remembered.
Since that time, Democrats have retaken control of both houses of the General Assembly, but hold a very slim (five-seat) margin in the General Assembly, with all 100 seats up for grabs in November.
“I am really worried about six or seven House seats,” said McAuliffe, who in order to get to the general-election ballot has to beat back competition in the June 8 Democratic gubernatorial primary.
Speaking to an audience of about 35, McAuliffe noted that, over the past half-century and with only one exception, Virginians have voted in as governor a candidate of the party that had lost the White House the preceding year. The one exception, he noted perhaps not completely offhandedly, was McAuliffe himself, who won office in 2013, a year after Barack Obama won re-election.
And McAuliffe suggested, Virginia Democrats may have lost their secret electoral weapon.
“Donald Trump has driven turnout . . . and Donald Trump is gone,” he said.
McAuliffe is just the latest in a string of candidates for a variety of political offices who have made a “virtual” stop at the Senior Democrats’ meetings in recent months.
Bob Platt, the organizer of the events, said that no matter how the primary results turns out, McAuliffe deserves credit for his highly caffeinated effort over the past two decades to rebuild the Virginia Democratic Party from an organization that, by the early 2000s, had been marginalized to slivers of Northern Virginia and urban areas.
When he moved to Arlington in the 1980s, Platt said, “the idea of Democrats winning office consistently was not a foregone conclusion.”
Virginia’s constitution prohibits governors from succeeding themselves. If he wins the primary and general election, McAuliffe will be the first governor to serve two non-successive stints in office since Mills Godwin was elected to four-year terms in 1965 (as a Democrat) and 1973 (as a Republican).