"Tom firmly believes he's more electable and reliably progressive than Terry," a source with knowledge of Perriello's thinking told TPM Wednesday. "The open question is how many Virginians share that view and want a primary contest."
The source said there has been "serious thinking with friends and family" on Perriello's part about a run but no polling yet to gauge how interested Virginians are in him running.
Other Democrats reject the idea of a Perriello bid. McAuliffe, who lost a three-way 2009 Democratic gubernatorial primary, has declared his intention to run again, and is already gearing up a campaign staff. He's expected to be a formidable fundraiser and again draw national support from prominent allies like Bill Clinton.
Many Democrats TPM spoke with Wednesday said they expected Perriello not to challenge McAuliffe. But it seems the final answer will have to come from Perriello himself. Perriello has his own national allies. In 2010, President Obama made a rare campaign appearance for a House candidate when he stumped for Perriello in his Charlottesville-area district. Perriello lost the race to Rep. Robert Hurt (R).
The Perriello speculation -- and its potential to shakeup the Democratic storyline in Virginia -- comes as the Republican side of the race got less dramatic Wednesday. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli all but locked up the Republican nomination after Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling dropped out.