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Political Note #366 Tony Evers Wisconsin Governor, Political Note #381 Gretchen Whitmer Michigan Governor, Political Note #386 Gavin Newsom California Governor (The Recall), Political Note #380 Seven Vulnerable Virginia Delegates, Political Note #395 Four More Vulnerable Virginia Delegates

July 8, 2021           Political Note #396 Terry McAuliffe Virginia Governor

2021                          General Election

Once upon a time…..  Try that again.  In the 1970s, in Syracuse, New York, Terry McAuliffe was a wunderkind businesskid.  Before Mark Zuckerberg and the other techies began making their billions in their twenties, Terry McAuliffe was a teenage businessman. Pre-teen, actually.

He needed a little help from his father who was a real estate guy and a local pol.  And a little help from his mother who worked in a flower store.  When he was twelve, his mother’s boss helped him buy a thousand red roses at wholesale prices.  His father set him up in a big office building where he sold individual roses for $5 each.   A month later, he sold green carnations on St. Patrick’s Day.

By the time he was fourteen, he was sealing driveways.  That’s a thing in the northeast.  Tarring driveways in the summer so they will withstand brutal winters.  It is hot, messy work.  Con men get you to pay, promising to do the work – then they don’t show up or they quickly spread thin black paint.  As a fourteen-year old, Terry McAuliffe showed up, did the work, used the right kind of tar, resurrected a dead dairy truck from his uncle so he could cover a larger area, and bought a snow blower to make a winter business out of Syracuse’s winter.

Terry McAuliffe went to Bishop Ludden Junior and Senior High School in Syracuse and to Catholic University in Washington.  An experienced businessman (more or less) and a campaign worker, at age 22, he became national finance director of Jimmy Carter’s Presidential campaign.   He went to Georgetown Law School, helped found a bank, and at age 30 became the bank’s chairman.

Terry McAuliffe had met the daughter of Jimmy Carter’s fundraising effort. In 1988, he married her.  With her father, Richard Swann, and then on his own, he bought and sold real estate; he bought other businesses and sold them; and he made a lot of money – enough to help bail out his father-in-law’s bankruptcy. Some of his dealings were extraordinarily successful.  His homebuilding firm in Florida, for instance, is among the largest in the state. He made a lot of money investing in Global Crossing, a telecommunications business, and selling his shares at the right time.

It would be difficult to separate his business dealings from his politics.  In an interview with the New York Times, he acknowledged ”I’ve met all of my business contacts through politics. It’s all interrelated”.  When he meets a new business contact ”then I raise money from them.”  He described himself as a “dealmaker and a matchmaker.”

Not everything went smoothly.  An effort to start an electric automobile company foreshadowed some of the complications of doing business with China.  The company, initially purchased from the Chinese, ended in fraud charges by Chinese investors and further charges that he and his partner, Anthony Rodham (Hillary’s brother) had not generated enough jobs to warrant the number of EB-5 visas that had been granted.

Terry McAuliffe developed a close relationship with congressional Democrats.  Working with Tony Coelho, the House Majority Whip, he headed the Congressional Campaign Committee’s fundraising.  He developed a friendship with House Speaker/Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and became Gephardt’s presidential campaign’s finance director in 1988.

His connection with Bill Clinton grew after Clinton was President.  After the 1994 Congressional defeat, he met with the President.  Terry McAuliffe’s response to the question about what the President could do to help was to be more responsive to donors.  He made no comment on policy.  Terry McAuliffe seems to rarely have spoken about policy with his political friends.  Increased responsiveness to donors may have led eventually to the Lincoln Bedroom scandal.

Terry McAuliffe had become close enough to Bill Clinton so that he was a central personal mainstay for him during the Monica Lewinsky crisis.  He remained a close advisor to the Clintons throughout the rest of the Presidency.  Then he had to figure out what to do next.  Much as he loved making money, Terry McAuliffe loved politics more.

Terry McAuliffe served as Chair of the 2000 Democratic Convention, raising enough money to more than bail the Convention out of a hole. In 2001, he was elected Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).  An energetic Chair, he founded the Voting Rights Institute, the Hispanic Voter Outreach Project, the Women’s Vote Center, and also served as Chair of the DNC Business Leadership Forum.  In 2005, before he completed his term, he earmarked $5 million for Virginia Democrats including then Lt. Governor Tim Kaine who was running for Governor.   The gift may have marked the beginning of what eventually became the Democrats gaining a trifecta in Virginia.

Terry McAuliffe was co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.  He ran unsuccessfully for Governor of Virginia in 2009. He was a visiting fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government in 2012 where he developed his plan to run again for Governor.  He notified supporters of his intention in November, 2012 and defeated then Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.  To get a whiff of what Virginia would have been like under the Republican, Cuccinelli served as a kind of Acting Director of US Citizenship and Immigration Services under President Donald Trump.  As Virginia’s Attorney General, he defended anti-sodomy laws and rejected the existence of climate change.

As Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe vetoed an attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, unsuccessfully supported Medicaid expansion, urged investment in technologies that would mitigate climate change, negotiated a deal to allow interstate holders of concealed carry permits in Virginia while being allowed to take guns from domestic abusers. He supported the idea of same sex marriage and achieved a bipartisan transportation bill before completing his single term. Virginia governors cannot be elected to a second consecutive term.

Virginia governors can be elected to a second non-consecutive term.  If Terry McAuliffe were to be elected again, he would replace Ralph Northam, the man who replaced him.  He would be elected to lead a Virginia which is very different from the Virginia whose leadership he left in January, 2018.  It is not so much that Virginia was unfamiliar with having a Democratic governor.  Since 1981, Democrats have elected seven Democratic governors and three Republican governors.  Rather, the legislature has changed.

In the State Senate, which is not up for election this year, Democrats lead 21 seats to 19.  In the House of Delegates, which is up for election in 2021, Democrats lead 55 seats to 45.  Redistricting is now in the hands of a bipartisan commission composed of lawmakers and citizens.  Before Democrats gained control of the legislature, they supported a bipartisan commission.  After Republicans lost control of the legislature, Republicans supported a bipartisan commission.  Sixty-six percent of the voters in Virginia supported the constitutional amendment that requires a bipartisan commission.

When Terry McAuliffe left office, he was proud of having restored civil rights to felons, ending a practice he described as a practice of racial disenfranchisement and discrimination.  He also raised an enormous amount of money for new capital investments. He argued the next important business for the legislature was to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  Under his successor, Ralph Northam, the legislature did exactly that.  In addition, the legalized recreational marijuana, reformed elections to allow early voting on Sundays, drop boxes, and pre-pay postage for mail-in ballots, prohibited discrimination on the basis of disability, abolished the death penalty, revised gun laws to restrict firearms access for domestic abusers, and raised the pay for state employees.

For Northam, the most significant moment of his term was the discovery of a Medical School Yearbook with a photo of someone (many people assumed it was Northam, though he denied it) in blackface.  He turned his initial fumbling response into something quite different.  He met with Black leaders and asked what he could do. And he responded.  With the Legislative Black Caucus, they developed strategies for closing the disparity in Virginia’s maternal mortality rate, increasing affordable housing, increasing funding for public transportation, and providing support for minority-owned businesses.

He and the Legislative Black Caucus took steps to remove Confederate statues and monuments from public spaces, removed remaining Jim Crow statutes from Virginia laws, worked to develop new approaches to the teaching of African-American history in Virginia’s public schools, and established training on racial issues in state agencies. He signed a bill establishing an African -American Advisory Board.   Virginia already had similar boards for Hispanics and Asians.  Another important institutional change with the addition of a cabinet-level position of Chief Diversity Officer.  When African Americans did not join in the chorus calling for Northam to resign, the pressure on Northam disappeared.  Virginia’s African-American political leadership, working with the Governor, had major achievements on behalf of their constituents and all Virginians.

Terry McAuliffe won the nomination for the 2021 election by a 2-1 margin over the other four candidates.  They were not non-entities, but none had his name recognition.  Over the years, he has raised a lot of money for Democratic candidates. He’ll raise a lot for himself.  He’s got some money himself; his net worth is $30 Million but that is 10% of his opponent’s new worth.

Glenn Younkin is the Republican nominee.  The state’s Republican leadership feared that a primary would choose an overtly pro-Trump candidate. Instead, they decided, as they are allowed, on a convention to pick their state-wide candidates.  At the convention they chose a candidate who was quietly pro-Trump. Not so quiet, of course, that he could not get the nomination.  He was just loud enough about being anti-abortion and pro-gun.

Only after he was nominated was Youngkin willing to acknowledge that Trump lost the 2020 presidential election. Youngkin stopped talking about abortion and guns after he was nominated.  He may talk more about his basketball days – BA Rice (as opposed to his father’s BA Duke).  We’ll see if he talks about making money.  His money making is different from Terry McAuliffe’s.  Glenn Youngkin is the very definition of a corporate money maker.

His first couple of years after he graduated in 1990, Youngkin worked for First Boston.  At First Boston, he had a bottom-up view of the tensions between First Boston and Credit Suisse. Credit Suisse purchased and then obliterated First Boston which had faltered after having been the national leader in mergers and acquisitions. Youngkin was gone before Credit Suisse First Boston’s Frank Quattrone was convicted for, among other things, telling staff to clean up files because they were under investigation by a grand jury.

After leaving First Boston, Youngkin went to Harvard for his MBA, worked briefly at McKinsey, and joined the Carlyle Group in 1995. Starting as a member of the US Buyout Group, he became a partner in 1999, managed the UK Buyout group from 2000 to 2005, and the Global Investment Team after that until 2008.  While Youngkin was in the US Buyout Group, Carlyle successfully purchased Kinder Morgan, pipeline operators.  Richard Kinder, a founder of the pipeline operation and a former head of Enron, supported the effort.  Less successful (though almost certainly profitable for Carlyle) was the buyout of Hawaiian Telecom from Verizon.  Challenges from Hawaiian regulators caused delays, back-office problems caused problems with customer service, and the company filed for bankruptcy in 2008.

Glenn Youngkin moved on, in 2008, to join a seven-person operating committee for the company. In 2009 he joined the firm’s executive committee composed of the three founders, him, and Daniel Akerson, who left to become Chairman and CEO of General Motors in 2010.  In 2011, Youngkin served briefly as CFO before becoming Chief Operating Officer.   In 2014, he became co-Chief Operating Officer with Michael Cavanaugh of Morgan Stanley. In 2018, Youngin became Co-CEO with Kewsong Lee.  Lee had grown up in upstate New York, been to prep school in Connecticut, and received his BA and MBA from Harvard.  He had spent more than 20 years at Warburg Pincus before joining The Carlyle Group as deputy chief investment officer.

Bloomberg described the co-CEO arrangement as awkward.  Youngkin apparently thought so, too.  Perhaps, as Terry McAuliffe used his time at Harvard to contemplate and plan a run for governor, Youngin used his co-CEO time in the same way.  He retired in the fall of 2020 and announced, in January 2021, his candidacy for Governor as well as his plan to self-fund that candidacy.  The Carlyle Group, the former home GHW Bush and others associated with him had sought to shake its identification as a Republican House, but never did.  It has been more successful in getting people to forget that members of the bin Laden family were early investors.

Youngkin reported he spent $5.5 million in his effort to gain the Republican nomination.  He needed votes from the 54,000 delegates named by 126 committees to the Republicans’ long-distance, drive-in convention; a convention that had 39 voting sites around the state.  As in New York City’s Democratic and Republican primaries for city offices in 2021, the Virginia delegates used rank voting to choose among seven candidates.

Larry Sabato, head of the UVA Center for Politics said: “What the Republicans are trying to do is to nominate somebody who can actually win a general election in a state where Democrats have won every significant election for over a decade. That’s going to be tough to do,”

After he was nominated for Governor, Youngkin moderated and modified some of his positions.  He did not disavow his preconvention pledges to “stand up against” all the legislation Democrats have passed in the last two years, to sustain his opposition to abortion, to repeal gun legislation including red flag laws, handgun purchase limitation, and universal background checks.  Hoping to make himself attracting to suburban voters, he’s been quiet about those pledges.

Let’s make sure that Virginia’s urban voters, suburban voters, and, for that matter, rural voters get out to support Terry McAuliffe.  He’s a man who loves politics, who supports the goals that Democrats worked for when he was governor and when Ralph Northam was governor.  If we fail to give Terry McAuliffe enough help, Virginians will get a Republican who needed a co-conspirator when he was the Chief Operating Officer and the Chief Executive Officer of one of the most corporate companies in the US and the world.

An Endangered Democratic Governor Who Needs Your Help Right Now.

Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, is facing a recall vote on September 24, 2021.  Make donations to Stop the Republican Recall

The Cook Report projects the following Democratic governors as Likely, or Leaning Democrat for 2022 rather than as Solidly Democratic.  We should protect those seats and flip some Republican seats.

 Kansas          Laura Kelly (Toss up)

Maine             Janet Mills (Likely D)

Michigan       Gretchen Whitmer (Lean D)

Minnesota    Tim Walz (Likely D)

Nevada          Steve Sisolak (Likely D)

Pennsylvania  Tom Wolf is term limited (Toss up)

Wisconsin    Tony Evers (Lean D)


Republican held seats we should be thinking about

Arizona         Secretary of State Katie Hobbs and ex Mayor and ex Homeland Security Official Marco Lopez are the principal candidates for this open seat (Toss up)

Arkansas      African American Nuclear Engineer Chris Jones is making a stir in the Democratic primary for this open seat that would ordinarily be considered (Safe R)

Florida           Ex Gov and Rep Charlie Crist and Ag Commissioner Nikki Fried are the principal competitors for the Democratic nomination (Lean R)

Georgia         Ex State House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams has not yet declared in this state where the Republican governor is facing a primary challenge (Lean R)

Maryland      I count eight candidates so far for this open seat (Lean D)

Ohio               Mayors John Cranley and Nan Whaley have announced for this seat where the Republican governor is facing a primary challenge (Likely R)


Organizations to support

Democratic Governors Association (DGA)  Organizes to elect Democratic governors.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC).  The official organization of the Democratic Party.

Fair Fight Promotes fair elections around the country

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