Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Should Support People Powered Politics

Terry McAuliffe is known for being really energetic and being able to raise a lot of money. The Huffington Post even recently pointed out that sources close to Terry are claiming he’ll raise about $10 million for his gubernatorial campaign. That’s a large chunk of change that will be a lot of air time in the expensive media market of Northern Virginia and there’s no doubt in my mind that his opponents realize this will benefit his candidacy– especially during the primary. Money doesn’t buy everything, however, and Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds have a number of very passionate volunteers who will be working extremely hard for their candidates over the next few months (and possibly year).

I’ve gone to events for both Brian Moran and Creigh Deeds to see how they interact with crowds and what their supporters have to say, have interviewed and held casual conversations with both, and Creigh Deeds even did a live blog on my site last March. Both are great candidates who have done a lot of good work for the Commonwealth of Virginia. While they do engage in politicking, like any politician does, it’s obvious that they are more interested in actually bringing about positive change than simply providing a boost to their own ego. Vivian Paige recently wrote about how she also noticed this trait in Brian Moran and how it factored into her decision to support his candidacy.

The passion that both Creigh and Brian have displayed during their involvement in Virginia politics has inspired a good number of people to rally behind their candidacies. What has been truly interesting to me is that not only does each camp have a large number of volunteers for this early in the race, but these volunteers are extremely passionate about their respective candidate. This is absolutely crucial this early in the race because it is these passionate volunteers who will go knock on doors, make phone calls, and do all the other grunt work that volunteers are usually stuck with during a campaign. This will help to form a base of support in the next few months that can be built upon once the general public starts paying more attention to the primary campaign in April or May (the primary will be in June).

While there’s been a fair amount of discussion about how “Terry McAuliffe is tremendously engaging and energetic,” I do not see his supporters sharing the same passion as those who support Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran. He’ll be able to make up some of that ground by spending the millions of dollars he’ll raise, but I don’t think he’ll simply be able to buy himself a term as governor. Jim Webb, Chap Peterson, Barack Obama, and others have all recently proved that Virginians are eager to support candidates who have the support of grassroots activists and don’t simply spend millions of dollars on fancy television commercials.

The concept of having passionate volunteers also goes beyond the gubernatorial campaign as their supporters will be willing to lobby their specific members of the GA to pass the next governor’s agenda. While Terry will be knowledgeable about issues important to Virginians by the election, if he isn’t already, he doesn’t have the same number of passionate supporters who will be able to help him pass his agenda once he’s sworn in.

As someone who is strongly believes in grassroots politics, I will be supporting one of the candidates who has illustrated a passion for people powered politics. I’ll be announcing the candidate I’m supporting for governor shortly after the New Year.

UPDATE: The Huffington Post has written an update that says "The source suggesting McAuliffe could raise $10 million before the filing deadline was not with his team."

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