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Did McAuliffe Break His Pledge?

Anita Kumar

Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran are accusing rival Terry McAuliffe of breaking the pledge (he loves to repeat) to not go negative in a primary against fellow Democrats.

But his latest campaign mailer, just arriving in mailboxes in Northern Virginia, offers a comparison of the three candidates that seems, well, kind of negative.

The mailer compares the three Democrats and one Republican in the race for governor on four issues -- payday lending, campaign finance, lobby reform and renewable energy standard.

Deeds' campaign said McAuliffe's "deceptive" mailer shows he is running scared because recent polls show Deeds is gaining ground while Moran's camp says it shows McAuliffe can't be trusted.

Click the image below to see the ad.


McAuliffe's campaign denies that he broke his pledge.

"We've always said that there are differences between the candidates on issues and experience, and that's legitimate to discuss,'' said Elisabeth Smith, McAuliffe's spokeswoman. "But Terry's not attacking other Democrats, and believes any of the three would be better than McDonnell."

In at least two cases, McAuliffe's accusations may be correct, but are a bit misleading:

McAuliffe said he hasn't takeny any money from Dominion Virginia Power, one of the most influential companies in the state, while the others have. That's true, but he has attended a campaign event at the home of Thomas E. Capps, the company's retired president and chief executive officer, and Capps and other former or current executives donated about $12,000. He also accepted $60,000 in contributions from Dominion for the Democratic National Committee's building fund when he was chairman.

McAuliffe said all three of his opponents voted for a bill in 2002 that opened Virginia to payday lending. That's true, but members of both parties, including then governor Mark Warner, thought the bill would reduce the number of stores, not increase. Clearly, that didn't work and Moran and Deeds voted later to enact some of the nation's most stringent reforms of the payday loan industry.

"The last place we would go for a public service lesson is a Wall Street insider,'' said Andrew Roos, Moran's campaign manager. "For decades, Mr. McAuliffe traded access for money, ensuring that big companies - not people - were in control, all the while pocketing millions through his proximity to power. This mailer is all the more ironic given Mr. McAuliffe's repeated pledge to run a positive campaign. People need a governor who they can trust what he says."

"McAuliffe and Moran are flat and Creigh is up," said Brooke Borkenhagen, Deeds' spokeswoman. "Creigh has all of the momentum in this race and Terry is clearly running scared. That's why Terry's trying to hustle Virginia voters with this deceptive mail piece.

By Anita Kumar  |  May 28, 2009; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Terry McAuliffe  
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Next: McAuliffe Wooing Black Voters


I never bothered to scratch to reveal the name of the candidates when I received the flyer in the mail. It was pretty clear from the text in the columns that it was negative advertising, and the "Paid for by..." line gave the thing away. One of the hazards of raising large amounts of money for a campaign is frittering it away on gimmicky nonsense. But shame on McAuliffe for the content and on his supporters (yeah, I mean you notlarrysabato) for not calling him on it.

Posted by: seller11 | May 28, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

What is negative about stating how candidates voted and what are their positions on the issues? That's not negative. That's good information for Virginians to see that especially Moran does not vote and talk consistently. Mr. Deeds doesn't understand the needs of Northern Virginia. Mr. Deeds says he is a work in progress; but can't say where he is moving to.

Posted by: Willis3 | May 28, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

Whatchoo talkin' 'bout, Willis? Have you actually seen and read that thing? It's a flagrant attack on the ethics of McAuliffe's opponents in the election, flatly suggesting that they were bought off by the payday lending industry, and attacking them for voting FOR payday lending in the first place. Apparently this makes them bad people. And considering that both payday lending came in during the Warner and Kaine administrations, I guess it means that they're bad people, too.

No way around it, this is a complete violation of McAuliffe's pledge not to attack other Democrats or to go negative. Moreover, the ad is very misleading and does not give the true picture of what was going on with the payday lending issue; but then again, how could it? After all, while Moran and Deeds were struggling with this and other Virginia issues McAuliffe was off running national campaigns and being a national Democratic high mukkety-muck. He wasn't even paying attention to Virginia politics at that time and I'd hazard a guess that he didn't really care about the issue back when it first came up.

Posted by: Lawlady584 | May 28, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Lawlady584, there is nothing inaccurate about the mailing. These are simply a collection of facts.

There is nothing wrong with saying a Delegate or Senator voted a certain way on a particular bill. That is, in fact, what actually happened here. The truth cannot be an attack.

Posted by: kyleblankenship | May 28, 2009 11:20 PM | Report abuse

"McAuliffe said all three of his opponents voted for a bill in 2002 that opened Virginia to payday lending. That's true, but members of both parties, including then governor Mark Warner, thought the bill would reduce the number of stores, not increase."

Are you kidding me? They were warned repeatedly that payday lending would explode in this state and it did.

Did the payday lobbyist lie to them about the effect of this Bill? Of course they did but the biggest problem is that many legislators continue to listen to them.

Posted by: noexploitation | May 29, 2009 6:05 AM | Report abuse

" Moran and Deeds voted later to enact some of the nation's most stringent reforms of the payday loan industry."

I wouldn't classify any reform that doesn't include a real interest rate cap as stringent.

And by the way, the payday lenders are blatantly getting around those "reforms" and the Gen Assembly isn't doing anything to stop it.

Meanwhile our senior citizens and disabled Virginians on Social Security have been switched to lines of credit by the payday lenders in order to keep them in perpetual debt.

Posted by: noexploitation | May 29, 2009 6:13 AM | Report abuse

Oh please... Moran and Deeds have been negative since the beginning. Moran has gotten as dirty as anyone, borrowing from the nastiness of his repulsive older brother Jim. Deeds has no clout and his momentum is limited. What a joke.

McAuliffe's mailer states facts. Get over it Moran and Deeds. If someone calls you out for your past votes, deal with it. Don't cry and say McAuliffe is breaking his campaign pledge. Maybe he is tired of you two bashing him at every chance you get - so he responded with a factual mailer. Too bad so sad.

Posted by: demfuture2000 | May 29, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

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