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Schweitzer: Dems Have Better Shot in New Jersey

The head of the Democratic Governors Association suggested Friday that Democrats would have a better shot at winning the governor's race in New Jersey than in Virginia, although he said the revelation of Republican Robert F. McDonnell's controversial thesis could hurt the GOP in the commonwealth.

Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer said in an interview that Democrat R. Creigh Deeds is "a good candidate," but was more laudatory of Gov. Jon S. Corzine's campaign in New Jersey. Schweitzer believed Corzine would win re-election despite many public polls showing the Democratic incumbent lagging behind Republican Chris Christie.

In Virginia, Schweitzer said McDonnell's graduate thesis detailing his conservative social views shows him as "out of step with most of Virginia."

"Creigh Deeds is a good candidate, he'd be a strong governor and he's building his coalition in the way that he sees fit," said Schweitzer, who was in Washington this week for a Democratic Governors Association fundraiser featuring President Obama.

In Virginia's Democratic primary, Schweitzer endorsed Terry McAuliffe and campaigned with him in the closing days before the June vote. Asked if he had put his prestige on the line by doing so, Schweitzer said: "I didn't have any prestige when I started. Nobody had ever heard of me in Virginia."

Since then, Schweitzer said, he has had little contact with Deeds, although the Democratic Governors Association staff has been working closely with the Deeds campaign.

At a recent debate, Deeds was asked whether he would consider himself an "Obama Democrat," and paused before eventually saying: "I'm a Creigh Deeds Democrat." Asked what Deeds's remark said about the popularity of Obama and the Democratic Party in Virginia, Schweitzer said: "I don't know. You'd have to ask Creigh Deeds."

-- Philip Rucker

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  |  October 2, 2009; 8:15 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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