Creigh Deeds Wins Virginia Gubernatorial Primary, Stomping McAuliffe And Moran

June 9, 2009 4:25 p.m.

Virginia state Sen. Creigh Deeds has won tonight’s Democratic primary for governor, and in a landslide, too — positively thrashing the competition of former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe, a colorful character who was until recently the frontrunner, and former state Del. Brian Moran.

With 81% of precincts reporting, Deeds has 49%, McAuliffe 27%, and Moran 24%. Terry McAuliffe, the man who had the backing of the Clintons and had famously appeared on Morning Joe after the Puerto Rico primary, wearing a Hawaiian shirt and waving a bottle of rum to celebrate Hillary’s win in that territory, has failed to break through in electoral politics.

As I pointed out this morning, McAuliffe occupied the frontrunner’s position for quite a while, thanks to a sizable financial advantage over his two rivals. But Moran soon began attacking McAuliffe relentlessly on both his political and private-sector résumés, which had two effects. First, McAuliffe got dragged down — and second Moran was dragged down for going negative. This allowed Deeds, who hails from the less Democratic Southwest region of the state and had been the third man for much of the race, to jump to the front of the pack as a positive choice for voters.This was obviously a bad career move for McAuliffe. After his cartoonish behavior as an advocate on TV for Hillary Clinton (some of which may have been deliberate performance art), he’ll now also be remembered for tanking in this race. But it may have been even worse for Moran — he resigned from the state legislature to be a full-time candidate for governor, so he’s lost some definite level of political power that he’d already had.

Looking ahead, Deeds now faces former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell — a rematch, after McDonnell previously defeated Deeds for Attorney General in the 2005 election. That result was a super-close margin of 323 votes out of about 1.9 million, and required a recount. We’ll see what happens now that the state has clearly shifted more to the Democrats over the last four years.

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