RICHMOND, Virginia (CNN) – The three Democrats who battled, at times bitterly, for their party's gubernatorial nomination came together in Richmond on Wednesday and promised to be unified against Republican Bob McDonnell come November.
"We are a stronger party and I am a stronger candidate because of this primary process," said Creigh Deeds, the folksy state Senator who sailed to the nomination last night, buoyed by an unexpectedly large turnout from voters in the Washington suburbs. "We're all better because of it."
Gathered before a fleet of television cameras and accompanied by Virginia's current governor, Tim Kaine, each Democrat promised to do whatever it takes to get Deeds elected this fall. He would be the third consecutive Democrat elected to the governorship if his campaign succeeds.
Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who finished second in Tuesday's primary, sounded a lot like the man who stood steadfastly alongside Hillary Clinton in 2008 during the long and bruising presidential primary fight against Obama.
"A good competitive primary is good for the Democratic party," McAuliffe said. "It brings people together."
Former House delegate Brian Moran, who came in third in the balloting, said that because of the spirited primary, "Creigh Deeds is now an invincible Democratic nominee."
"The long primary didn't hurt President Obama in 2008," Kaine said.
All four Democrats recited a mantra that has become familiar to watchers of Virginia politics in recent years. Deeds, they argued, will keep Virginia moving forward in the tradition of Kaine and former governor Mark Warner, while McDonnell offers "a social and economic agenda" that will "take us back."
McDonnell, however, had the benefit is laying back and raising money while the Democrats hammered each other for more than six months. Consequently, Deeds has burned through most of his campaign war chest, while McDonnell is sitting on millions of dollars given to him by the Republican Governors Association and the Republican National Committee.
Less than 24 hours after his win, Deeds sent out a fundraising e-mail pleading bluntly for donations: "We need to catch up," the e-mail said.
Kaine pledged that in his role as DNC chairman, he will ensure Deeds has the money he needs to win, but would not offer a timeline as to when those resources will be committed. He also said President Obama and Vice President Biden will campaign for Deeds this year. Obama called Deeds on Wednesday to congratulate him on Tuesday's primary win.
Deeds said "it's a huge advantage to this campaign that the chairman of the DNC has an office on the third floor of the state capitol just up the street."
After the event, McAuliffe – who had never run for a statewide position until this year – would not rule out a future run for office. He said his immediate concern was helping Deeds get elected, but he added: "I will never shut the doors on anything."
"If I can help move the ball forward and help people, I'm always going to do that," McAuliffe said.