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McDonnell's Made-For-TV Event

Tim Craig

Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell, the GOP nominee for governor, is starting to flex the big advantage he will have in next year's campaign by being the only candidate in the race who currently holds a statewide office.

McDonnell held an event for the media today, which drew nearly a dozen television crews and print reporters, to unveil a new video aimed at preventing youths from joining gangs.

McDonnell was flanked with a made-for-television, mutli-racial, backdrop of law enforcement officials.

"It's a wake-up call against gang violence," McDonnell said of the 25-minute video, which will be distributed to law enforcement agencies and the media. "It's tough, its straight talk and its hard-hitting."

In producing the video, McDonnell worked closely with Richmond Commonwealth Attorney Michael Herring. Herring, an African-American Democrat, praised McDonnell's office for its efforts in combating gang violence.

Such events allow McDonnell to start positioning himself as a Republican candidate who can make inroads into the state's minority communities, a necessity for the GOP as Virginia's electorate becomes more diverse.

The issue of gang violence also resonates in Virginia's suburbs, where Republiccans have struggled in recent elections.

At some point next year, McDonnell will likely step down as attorney general to campaign full time. It is customary for Virginia attorney generals to resign before the election when they run for governor.

Until then, McDonnell will able to orchestrate events that highlight his office and statewide credentials.

By comparison, none of the Democratic candidates for governor have a statewide platform, which will likely diminish their ability to get free media attention for an "official" function.

It's an unusual position for Virginia Democrats to be in.

With the exception of Mark R. Warner in 2001, every Democratic nominee for governor since 1977 had been either a sitting attorney general or lieutenant governor when they started their campaigns..

By Tim Craig  |  November 18, 2008; 4:19 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Robert F. McDonnell , Tim Craig  
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