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Warner created an Exploratory Committee and then just decided

that it just wasn’t his time. It was a personal thing. He pulled out in

part primarily because it was a personal family timing issue.

It just wasn’t Tim Kaine’s time in terms of being the VEEP

candidate on the ticket with Hillary Clinton. I don’t think he had

done anything up to that point. Kaine is a situation where probably, it

was a personal timing moment. He did not express his own personal

ambition to being president or vice president and although he had

ambition he wouldn’t have said ‘yes’, he did not personally push his

name out there. After leaving the governorship, he indicated that his

real ambition was to go teach at the University of Richmond. He then

got persuaded to run for the U. S. Senate.

Terry McAuliffe is in many ways like Jim Gilmore in the sense

that he is early and often has put his name out and has indicated

an ambition for running for president in 2020. I’m not comparing

his governorship with Gilmore’s. There seems to be a very similar

level of obvert ambition on the part of Terry McAuliffe as with Jim

Gilmore, although George Allen and Bob McDonnell both expressed

that same level of ambition at some point in their careers.

The bottom line is that as Virginia has become more competitive

at the federal level especially at the presidential level, the political

value to being governor has grown, has increased and it’s that

political value that makes these people who are governor think more

ambitiously beyond their life in Richmond and that some ambition

sometimes takes them to the U. S. Senate, sometimes it takes them to

other things. It has also taken them to thinking about a larger place for

themselves in national politics.

This is a situation where the one-term governor in an off-

year election in a state that is now among the five to seven most

competitive in the country isn’t much of a hindrance as it might

otherwise be. Although, we can say none of the Virginia governors

have been successful and perhaps none of the reasons is that four

years in Richmond simply isn’t enough time to build a network and

develop the policy credibility that one might need to successfully run

for president.

Stephen J. Farnsworth, Ph.D.

University of Mary Washington

Virginia is in theVERY unusual position of having three plausible

candidates for president in 2020, and all three of them are Democrats.

Mark Warner took a few trips to Iowa to explore a 2008 run, but

the former governor chose to run for the Senate instead once Senator

John Warner decided to retire. The current Senator Warner’s high-

visibility role in investigating possible Russian meddling in the 2016

election strengthens his hand for a more serious run for the White

House in 2020, should he decide to give it a go.

Senator Kaine, the 2016 Democratic vice presidential nominee,

would be a serious contender should he decide to run for president

in 2020. He acquitted himself well as on the national stage last year,

and has become an increasingly visible senator since his time on the


Both come with the advantages of considerable experience

as both a senator and a governor. But Kaine and Warner may not

be sufficiently angry enough to satisfy the most active parts of the

Democratic primary base.

Governor McAuliffe, who leaves office in January 2018, will

be more able than most potential 2020 presidential candidates to

spend large amounts of time in Iowa and New Hampshire, the early

states on the nomination calendar. He would be the most likely

successor coming out of the Clinton wing of the party, and would be

a particularly formidable fundraiser, a key measure of a candidate’s

viability in the early going.

The shut-out of Republican state-wide office holders in recent

has limited the ability of Republicans to offer a viable candidate

for president in 2020. Former Governor Jim Gilmore ran with little

success four years ago, and former Governor Bob McDonnell’s

history of sordid finance issues may not have led to a prison sentence

but it did make it impossible to run for office as a credible national

candidate. George Allen, a former senator and governor, hasn’t been

a viable candidate for national office since he lost his re-election bid

in 2006.

The GOP field, of course, will depend on if President Trump

chooses to run for re-election and if so what his approval numbers

might look like in a few years.

Geoffrey Skelley

Associate Editor,

Sabato’s Crystal Ball,

University of Virginia Center for Politics

George Allen’s 2006 Senate reelection loss ended speculation

about his 2008 presidential aspirations. Since then, he lost another

Senate bid in 2012 against Tim Kaine and has largely exited the

political world, at least as a prospective candidate. There is zero

expectation for him to seek office again, much less the presidency

in the future.

Jim Gilmore made a quixotic presidential bid in 2016, one that

attracted very few votes. Even in his home state of Virginia, Gilmore

only managed to win 0.06% of the vote. There is no reason to think

that he would have any luck in a future presidential bid, and no one is

going to pick him as a running mate.

Mark Warner may long to run for president and could probably

mount the resources for such a bid; someone with his moderate

profile might struggle in a Democratic presidential primary.

Nonetheless, Warner could try to use his post as vice chairman of

the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to attract national notice

as it delves into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential

election. Although he nearly lost reelection in the GOP-friendly 2014

cycle, Warner remains quite popular among Virginia voters. He could

conceivably run for president or be a vice presidential pick, but it

doesn’t seem incredibly likely, at least at this point.

Bob McDonnell is hard to view as anything other than damaged

goods at this point, at least politically. While the court system

eventually exonerated him, he was found guilty of improper action

by the court of public opinion (not to mention a jury). Given this

toxicity, no one would pick him as a running mate, and if McDonnell

were to run on his own accord, he would forever have to handle tough

questions regarding his acceptance of gifts that led to the corruption


Tim Kaine was his party’s vice presidential nominee in 2016 and

is obviously going to show up on lists of possible future presidential

candidate. For the time being, Kaine appears unlikely to run, having

said that he will not seek the presidency in 2020. Still, he’s running

for reelection in 2018; if he wins reelection, Kaine might change his

mind once the 2020 campaign cycle starts in early 2019. Still, given

his attachment to a disastrous Democratic result in 2016 and the

possibly crowded Democratic field in 2020, it’s safe to view him as

unlikely to run. And having taken the VP nomination once, would he

do so again? Hard to say.

Terry McAuliffe actually might be the most likely to run for

president. The incumbent Virginia governor can’t run for immediate

reelection, so he might position himself as a possible national

candidate going forward. He’s has a decent approval rating, has major

fundraising chops, and knows everyone in the party. Plus, he does

have some progressive accomplishments that he could cite in an effort

to inoculate himself to left-wing attacks for being too establishment

(e.g. his mass restoration of voting rights for felons who have served

their time). Nonetheless, he is heavily connected to the Clinton’s,

which will be a first-paragraph mention in any candidate profile in

2020 should he run. That might hurt him with Berniecrats and anti-

establishment Democrats.

Michael E. Belefski is a politics reporter for VCC and President

of CPC CORPORATION, a Business, Law and Political

Communications and Public Relations Firm. He can be contacted at



Highest Aspirations

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