[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/01/04/art.terryvid0104.yt.jpg caption="McAuliffe is trying to make Rush Limbaugh a campaign issue."]WASHINGTON (CNN) - As national Democrats eagerly point to Rush Limbaugh’s influence among Republicans, one Virginia Democrat is looking to make the radio host a flash point in this year’s governor’s race.
Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman now seeking his party's nomination for governor, sent a letter Tuesday to the de facto Republican nominee, former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell, asking him to reject Limbaugh’s recent statement that he wants President Obama to fail.
“I know that you and I disagree on many issues, but I'm hoping that we can agree on this: hoping for failure isn't the right way to get our economy back on track,” McAuliffe wrote in the letter. “That's why I'm asking you to join me in condemning the remarks Rush Limbaugh made wishing for the President to fail.”
McAuliffe wrote that Virginians are concerned with getting the economy back on track and that Limbaugh’s comments are not constructive.
“I hope you'll join me in calling for Rush to start taking an approach that reflects the best of what our system stands for,” McAuliffe wrote.
McDonnell campaign spokesman Tucker Martin said McAuliffe "desperately wants our attention."
"And if he wins his competitive and tough primary in June he will get it," Martin said. "Until then, we wish him the best of luck.”
Current Virginia governor and DNC Chairman Tim Kaine highlighted Limbaugh’s influence in the GOP in multiple cable appearances Tuesday, calling the polarizing radio talker “the godfather” and “Wizard of Oz” of the Republican Party.
McAuliffe is competing against former House delegate Brian Moran and state senator Creigh Deeds in a three-way Democratic primary.
Story updated 5:00 p.m. EST