[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/04/art.terryvid0104.yt.jpg caption="McAuliffe is expected to outraise all of his opponents in the Virginia governor's race."](CNN) - Could Terry McAuliffe’s hefty bank account backfire against him in the Virginia’s governor’s race? That’s certainly what one of his Democratic rivals is hoping
At the Democratic Party of Virginia’s annual Jefferson-Jackson dinner on Saturday, McAuliffe got an earful from former House member Brian Moran, who implied that the onetime DNC chairman is trying to buy the governor’s mansion by tapping his rolodex of national donors.
“We must decide what our party stands for,” Moran told the audience of activists in Richmond. “Will our party be dominated by big money and those who raise it, or will we be the party of the people?”
Before his remarks, Moran’s campaign played a video outlining his 12 years of experience in state Democratic politics. As the short movie faded to black, the phrase “Money isn’t everything” appeared on the screen, a clear shot at McAuliffe and an indication of how Moran plans to define the primary race.
“Mark [Warner] and Tim [Kaine] didn't just show up when it was easy and the battles had already been won," Moran said of the commonwealth’s two most recent governors. “They were here when it was hard to be a Virginia Democrat."
Though he never mentioned the longtime Bill and Hillary Clinton ally by name, Moran went on, suggesting McAuliffe’s bid is more about “personal gain” than public service.
“Will our party be dominated by big money and those who raise it, or will we be the party of the people?,” he asked.
The tough rhetoric earned Moran the night’s loudest applause, but also some jeers from McAuliffe backers in the building. McAuliffe brought in several busloads of supporters and purchased 39 tables at the dinner, ranging from $2,500 to $25,000 a table, depending on the view.
In his own speech, McAuliffe promised not to say anything negative about his Democratic rivals, Moran and state senator Creigh Deeds. Instead, he focused his remarks on the main plank of his campaign - creating jobs in an ailing economy.