ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (CNN) - In an energetic and positive address to his supporters, former state legislator Brian Moran conceded Tuesday night in Virginia's first contested Democratic gubernatorial primary in nearly 30 years.
"Because of this primary, Creigh Deeds is now an invincible candidate," Moran said shortly after the race was called for Deeds.
He added, "We can hold our heads high."
With the primary now behind him, Moran told the crowd that he was committed to helping Deeds beat Republican nominee Robert McDonnell.
"I told him, Creigh, you're going to have me by your side," Moran said. "We're going to work as hard as we possibly can. We will win in November."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia gubernatorial hopeful Creigh Deeds is looking to project an air of momentum in the closing days of the Democratic primary race by launching a new TV ad in the costly northern Virginia media market.
When the ad starts running Wednesday night, Deeds and fellow Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe will both be on the air in every corner of the commonwealth with just five days left until next Tuesday's Democratic primary. The third candidate in the race, former House delegate Brian Moran, has spent considerably less on television ads - but he maintains a strong base of support in the Washington suburbs where most of the state's Democratic voters reside.
The 30-second ad asks the question: "On June 9, which Democrat has the most experience to carry on the policies of Mark Warner and Tim Kaine?" The spot then touts Deeds' recent - and somewhat surprising - endorsement by the Washington Post. "The Washington Post says it's Creigh Deeds," a narrator says. "Deeds 'would make transportation his first priority.'"
The ad also points out that Deeds is pro-choice, a message that might help allay fears among northern Virginia liberals that the state senator from rural Bath County is too conservative to lead the party.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the battle for Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination, a race with many uncertainties, a major question has bubbled to the surface in the closing days of the campaign: How many African-American voters will actually show up?
If they do come to the polls in large numbers during next Tuesday's primary, former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe could very well be the beneficiary and move on to face Republican Bob McDonnell in the general election, a race that will be fraught with national implications. But if many of those voters stay home, McAuliffe’s lively and unconventional bid for the governorship might come to an end.
“At the end of the day, the African-American vote will be the decisive factor in this race,” said Bob Holsworth, the Richmond-based political analyst.
Although Virginia’s Democratic drift in recent years has arisen in large part from the population growth in left-leaning northern Virginia, next week’s three-way primary race may ultimately hinge on a very different part of the state - the stretch from Richmond to Hampton Roads along the southeast coast.
If the three candidates manage to divvy up the votes in northern Virginia - a growing possibility now that Creigh Deeds, a state senator from a rural district, is riding a burst of momentum following a key endorsement form the Washington Post - then the candidate who can best marshal voters downstate may have an edge.
It’s there where McAuliffe has been aggressively organizing in predominantly black neighborhoods, flooding urban radio stations with ads, and even campaigning alongside hip-hop performers like will.i.am and Biz Markie. As of Tuesday, McAuliffe had spent about $1 million on television advertising, with most of his ads purchased in downstate media markets.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Republican Bob McDonnell is up with his first television ad in the Virginia governor's race, a heavily biographical 30-second spot that largely avoids the commonwealth's troubled economy and focuses instead on family values and the former state Attorney General's record combating online sex predators.
"Bob McDonnell," the ad's narrator says, over images of the Republican with his wife and family. "Character. Experience. A husband. A father. Principles molded growing up in a middle class suburban neighborhood."
The campaign purchased over $200,000 worth of airtime for the ad, which is running in nearly every major media market in Virginia except in the sprawling and expensive northern Virginia market, which encompasses the greater Washington area. However, the campaign noted that they launched a "positive new online media campaign" on Monday "with a heavy focus on northern Virginia."
Two of McDonnell's Democratic rivals - Terry McAuliffe and Creigh Deeds - have already been running television ads as they ramp up for the Democratic primary, which is less than a month away. The third Democrat in the race, Brian Moran, has not aired a TV spot.
UPDATE: The Democratic Party of Virginia responded to the ad, accusing McDonnell of failing to offer a plan to create jobs.
"When it comes to Virginia's economy, Bob McDonnell's ad is all hat and no cattle," said Democratic party spokesman Jared Leopold. "McDonnell's newest ad - like his campaign - lacks the substance that Virginians want in a governor."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia's gubernatorial candidates are a spoiled bunch. With their election taking place in that odd year after a presidential election, the candidates are happily preparing for - even boasting about - the financial windfall from the national parties that awaits them once the general election kicks off in June.
As Joe Abbey, the campaign manager for Democrat Creigh Deeds, put it: "We're typically the only game in town."
There's also a governor's race in New Jersey, of course, where poll numbers show that the Republican frontrunner, Chris Christie, has a good shot at knocking off incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine. But the stakes are seen as higher in Virginia, a newly-christened swing state with shifting demographic patterns that have emboldened Democrats and forced the state GOP to do some serious soul-searching.
"Many have said that the road for the resurgence of the Republican party and the conservative cause goes through Virginia," said Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor, who is framing his candidacy around job creation rather than focusing on wedge issues that have fueled past GOP campaigns in the commonwealth.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds just fired a warning shot across the bow of local politicos who regard him as something of a third wheel in the state's crowded Democratic primary race.
Deeds, a state senator from Bath County, announced Thursday that his campaign raised $600,000 in the first three months of 2009. That might not seem like a large number - until you consider that Deeds was unable to raise money for roughly half that time, because Virginia law prevents state legislators from collecting checks during legislative sessions.
More importantly, Deeds now has $1.2 million in the bank. That's more than rival Brian Moran, a former House delegate who has $824,000 on hand, and it's about $1 million less than the third candidate, Terry McAuliffe, a deep-pocketed millionaire with a healthy rolodex of donors from around the country. McAuliffe announced Wednesday that he entered April with $2.5 million in his war chest.
"My opponents had twice as much time to fundraise," Deeds said in an e-mail to supporters. "Brian Moran even resigned his seat so he could raise money full-time for his campaign, but it didn't pay off. I now have 41 percent more cash on-hand than Brian."
Deeds also raised 97 percent of his funds in the first quarter from inside the state of Virginia, a greater percentage than both of his Democratic rivals. Moran raised 90 percent of his money from Virginians, while McAuliffe raised less than 20 percent from donors inside the commonwealth.
Deeds will surely play that figure up as he tries to sell himself as the Democrat with the best chance of beating Republican Bob McDonnell in the fall.
McDonnell has not yet announced his first quarter fundraising total.
UPDATE: Deeds' cash on hand total includes an $80,000 transfer from his senate account.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe has raised $4.2 million for his Virginia gubernatorial bid in the first quarter of 2009, his campaign announced today - an eye-popping figure for a first-time political candidate in a statewide race.
By comparison, current Virginia governor Tim Kaine raised $2.6 million in the first quarter of 2005 as the lone Democrat in that year's gubernatorial campaign - and more than half of that total came in the form of a $1.5 million gift from the DNC. Former governor Mark Warner raised $1.4 million in the first quarter of of his 2001 campaign.
But unlike Kaine, who was unopposed for his party's nomination, McAuliffe is spending roughly half of what he's taking in. Kaine entered April 2005 with $5 million on hand, while McAuliffe began the month with around $2.5 million in the bank out of the $5.2 million he has raised in total, going back to last year. That means he has burned through about half of his donations so far while building a campaign operation and doing battle with his Democratic rivals.
McAuliffe is competing in a three-way primary against former House delegate Brian Moran and state senator Creigh Deeds. The winner of that June vote will face Republican Bob McDonnell, who is also expected to announce a sizeable cash haul of his own thanks, in part, to frequent fundraising help from prominent national GOP figures.
All of McAuliffe's rivals have conceded that they expect the well-connected ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton to outraise everyone else in the race.
Along with keeping a relentless campaign schedule, McAuliffe has been jetting around the country collecting checks from donors in places like New York, California, Florida and Arizona. The campaign did not announce how many donations came from voters inside Virginia, saying only that they have raised money from over 3,440 contributors since last fall.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia Democrats are eagerly pouncing on Mike Huckabee for telling an audience in Appalachia that voters in northern Virginia "aren't necessarily thinking the same way folks like you and me think."
Huckabee made the remarks in southwest Virginia's Tazewell County on Monday while campaigning with Bob McDonnell, the Republican candidate for governor. His appearance was recorded and posted on YouTube by a state Democratic operative.
"They have never fully understood how hard it is for a lot of people to put a paycheck together, be able to feed a family," Huckabee said. "Some folks up there near the Beltway," he claimed, have "never fully understood how hard it is for a lot of people to put a paycheck together, be able to feed a family."
The comments were reminiscent of a gaffe made last October by Nancy Pfotenhauer, a campaign adviser to John McCain, who went on cable television and contrasted the strongly Democratic Washington suburbs with the rest of state, which she called 'real Virginia.' The Obama campaign, eager to shore up support in vote-heavy northern Virginia, seized on the comment.
Virginia Democratic Party chairman Richard C. Cranwell called Huckabee's remarks "divisive" and demanded that McDonnell condemn them. "It's the same thing they tried to do last year with the 'real Virginia,'" Cranwell said. "I expect we won't be seeing Mike Huckabee back in Virginia again."
State senator Creigh Deeds, one of three Democrats seeking his party's nomination for governor this year, said Huckabee's comments were "hurtful" and asked McDonnell supporters to "pick up a newspaper to find out that Virginians are hurting across the commonwealth."
WASHINGTON (CNN) - Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is taking flack from one of his Democratic rivals for attending a campaign fundraiser co-hosted by a prominent Republican lobbyist who publicly opposed Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign.
The event was held Tuesday night at the Washington office of the BGR Group, a top government affairs and public relations firm founded by three Republicans including lobbyist Ed Rogers, a friend of McAuliffe's who co-hosted the fundraiser.
The campaign of former House member Brian Moran - who is seeking the Democratic nomination along with McAuliffe and state senator Creigh Deeds - called the fundraiser "offensive" and accused Rogers of joining with "Rush Limbaugh and others in raising racially and religiously charged attacks against then Sen. Obama."
"It's sad that in the same week Terry McAuliffe aired a radio ad claiming credit for helping to elect Barack Obama, he's holding a fundraiser with someone who did everything he could to defeat him," said Moran campaign manager Andrew Roos.
The McAuliffe campaign hit back, arguing that the eventual Democratic nominee will need a thick wallet to defeat Republican candidate Bob McDonnell and accusing the Moran team of being the only campaign in the Democratic race "actively attacking other Democrats."
They called the BGR group "bipartisan" and said the fundraiser demonstrates that McAuliffe will bring an ability to work with both parties to the governor's mansion.
WASHINGTON (CNN) - In Virginia, where this fall's gubernatorial election will likely be seen as a test of the White House's political muscle, Democratic hopeful Brian Moran has become the first candidate of the 2009 cycle to launch an online social network - and it doesn't stray far from President Obama's winning model.
Last year, the Obama campaign's social networking platform - My.BarackObama.com - became an indispensable tool for mobilizing the grassroots supporters that helped propel him to victory.
Moran's new site is called "Organize Virginia," a title that calls to mind "Organizing for America," the Obama perma-campaign apparatus that undertook a nationwide canvass over the weekend to rally support for the president's budget.
The site has a look and feel reminiscent of the Obama online platform, offering supporters tools to organize on their own by starting groups, raising money, blogging and planning events.
The Moran campaign isn't hiding from the obvious comparison.
"Our online organizing tool connects the grassroots and the netroots, just like the Obama campaign," said Moran spokesman Jesse Moran. "We can be the first to do this effectively because, from local leaders to big city mayors, we have the grassroots necessary to support it."
The site, which went live for supporters on Friday, was created by Jerome Armstrong, the pioneering blogger and strategist who once worked for former Virginia governor Mark Warner when the now-Senator was considering a presidential bid in 2007.
Moran is running for his party's nomination against two other Democrats: former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe and state Sen. Creigh Deeds. The winner of the June 9 primary will face off against Republican Bob McDonnell, the commonwealth's former Attorney General.