According to the Washington Post, McAuliffe has already caught up to Moran, as well as to Sen. Creigh Deeds, the other candidate for the Democratic nomination.
McAuliffe is also working the "netroots"--politically active bloggers (but not the Curmudgeon, so far--we did dodge a call from Moran the other day) who help shape the early part of the campaign. Whether it's true or not, McAuliffe's campaign managed to get a Huffington Post piece proclaiming, at least, that their man is "winning over" the Virginia netroots.
Moran, as we noted earlier this week, has made missteps. Not Larry Sabato has more on Moran's troubles of late.
There's no question that McAuliffe can win this race--both the nomination and the general election. Mark Warner had served in no elective or political office before becoming Virginia's governor. Likewise, Jim Webb had never held elective office in the Commonwealth before becoming senator.
The biggest problem for McAuliffe may be a perception that he's "too liberal" for Virginia. Can he come up with a strategy--like Warner did--for getting more moderate and conservative Democratic and independent voters in southwest Virginia? If so, he can win.
Indeed, what we're seeing in Virginia--and it mirrors trends in the rest of the country--is that working through the political ranks may not be the best route to statewide or federal office. Virginia--especially Northern Virginia--is filled with very smart, very talented, quite ambitious people who would not burden themselves with local political office, but who might make excellent governors, senators and congresspeople.
Moran has already lined up most of Arlington's Democratic politicos in his camp. We wonder who'll be the first to desert if Moran's ship keeps sinking while McAuliffe's star rises?
While the Dems slug it out, the presumptive Republican nominee, Attorney General Bob McDonnell, is building up a big warchest of money--$2 million so far. His campaign manager says the Democrats "are going to be tired and broke on June 9" while McDonnell will have "several million dollars" in the bank.
We're not worried. Often, a good primary contest gives tremendous publicity to the eventual winner, gets his/her campaign organization in shape and energizes his/her supporters. McCain had all summer to raise money and get organized while Obama and Hillary slugged it out, but look who won. McDonnell will have difficulty getting much of a spotlight over the next few months, while all three Democrats will constantly be in the news. Once the Democratic nominee emerges, he won't have too much difficulty raising enough money to at least be competitive with McDonnell.