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Kaine's Biggest Donor Endorses McAuliffe

Tim Craig

In a major coup, Gov. Timothy M. Kaine's largest financial backer said today he will support Terry McAuliffe's bid for the Democratic nomination for governor of Virginia.

Billionaire Randal J. Kirk has contributed more than $600,000 to Kaine since he took office in 2006. Kirk, an investment and pharmaceutical mogul in Radford, also recently gave the Virginia Democratic Party $100,000.

In an interview today, Kirk said he will support McAuliffe if he officially enters the race. Kirk said McAuliffe, a former businessman and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, is best suited to manage Virginia's economy and carry on the policies of Kaine and former governor Mark R. Warner (D).

"I think the main issue for Virginia is the main issue nationally, which is the economy," said Kirk, who also supported President-Elect Barack Obama. "I think Terry McAuliffe can move the dial in a significant way."

Kirk said McAuliffe will be able to use his national ties to lure more business to Virginia. "I think Virginia does have a narrow advantage over many of our competitor states and having a very capable chief executive is very important for us to press our advantage right now."

Kirk has a reputation for writing big checks to candidates and causes he supports. Since 2001, Kirk has given Virginia politicians more than $1.5 million of his money. His decision to publicly back a candidate so early is yet another indication McAuliffe could amass a huge war chest if he decides to take on Del. Brian J. Moran (D-Alexandria) and state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) in the Democratic primary.

"I will be helpful in whatever way I can," Kirk said.

By Tim Craig  |  November 18, 2008; 5:56 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Terry McAuliffe , Tim Craig , Timothy M. Kaine  
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I wish we could buy our politicians as easily in Georgia. Then, maybe, we could get Democrats in power again and not just these Dixiecrats who are our usual alternatives.

Posted by: hc2254 | November 18, 2008 7:15 PM | Report abuse

American politics as usual. What rich person can buy his candidate in office. Since us Americans are looking for change we'll never find it with the same old 2 party system we need to incorporate a 3rd or 4th party.

Posted by: michandbri | November 18, 2008 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Hey, this is the party of Soros.

What did you expect? You didn't really believe in that "change we can believe in" nonsense, did you?

Posted by: ooyah32 | November 18, 2008 8:37 PM | Report abuse

The last thing we need is a carpetbagging Clinton flunkie as our governor. Whether you support the Republican McDonnell or Democrats Moran and Deeds, those guys are all Virginians. Pick one and back them... but not McAuliffe. He doesn't know us and he doesn't care about us. He's just using Virginia as a stepping stone.

Posted by: outsider6 | November 18, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

McAuliffe has no Virginia experience and no political experience other than running the DNC into the ground trying to offer GOPlite instead of the Democratic alternative voters lapped up in 2006 and 2008. McAuliffe might buy the primary, but he won't be able to buy the general election. Virginia will end up with a GOP governor again unless Deeds or Moran can take the primary.

Posted by: bwwww | November 18, 2008 9:43 PM | Report abuse

You really are an outsider, 6. Living in Virginia for 20 years more that qualifies Mr. McAuliffe as a resident of Virginia. You might as well say that Moran is a carpetbagger too as his family hails from the People's Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Mr. Kirk, you will make a wise investment if Mr. McAuliffe runs.

Posted by: mortified469 | November 18, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Actually, carpet bagger seems apt... Mr. McAuliffe certainly lags far behind Moran and Deeds in terms of knowing what Virginians want. It's inconceivable that Mr. McAuliffe has been as concerned with the citizens of this Commonwealth as he has with raising money to defeat Republicans. He's a professional campaigner, he's not a legislator. It'd be like Texans electing Karl Rove.

From Abingdon to Alexandria, Hampton Roads to Warrenton, Moran and Deeds have listened and learned the pulse of Virginia... while Mr. McAuliffe has been running the DNC and then leading the divisive campaign for Team Clinton.

Basically, this guy thinks he can shock and awe us with his connections and his fundraising ability, but I think Virginia is best served by electing somebody who has been working in and around the state for the past decade or longer.

The citizens of Virginia, Republican and Democrat, must unite and ensure that Mr. McAuliffe does not win the primary by voting for either Moran or Deeds.

Posted by: lingering_lead | November 18, 2008 10:28 PM | Report abuse

Governor of Virginia?!! Isn't he from BOSTON? Come on, now. This is ridiculous. I wish that man would just go away.

Posted by: dc4mckinney | November 18, 2008 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Just last week while campaigning in Prince William County, Mr. McAuliffe let it slip that if he was governor of Virginia, he would rely on the great research universities of FLORIDA to improve our economy.

Whoops. McAuliffe once floated a trial balloon of running for governor in Fla.

Check it out:

Posted by: write55 | November 18, 2008 10:39 PM | Report abuse

I think that Virginians are smart enough to know that this guy is a fake and no amount of money is going to convince them otherwise. George Soros gave millions to John Kerry but that didn't do any good! Jeez, McAuliffe becoming the Democratic nominee would make me want a Republican in office! At least that person knows VA politics...

Posted by: around | November 18, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Well, that's one person with deep pockets. How many phone calls can he make by himself, how many doors can he knock on by himself, compared to the army of Obama people who will NOT be working for Terry?

Posted by: xcrunner771 | November 18, 2008 11:32 PM | Report abuse

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