Democrats cheer, Republicans jeer McAuliffe’s plan to boost Virginia candidates

Democrats cheer, Republicans jeer McAuliffe’s plan to boost Virginia candidates

By Laura Vozzella , Antonio Olivo and Gregory S. Schneider | April 18

RICHMOND — Virginia Democrats cheered and Republicans lobbed their sharpest “T-Mac” barbs Thursday in response to former governor Terry McAuliffe’s decision to forgo a White House bid and devote the next year to turning the General Assembly blue.

“It really doesn’t get much better than Terry raising money,” said Del. Lashrecse D. Aird (D-Petersburg), adding that other Democrats she has spoken with share her excitement. “Terry has been very popular with Virginians . . . so it makes it very easy for him to step into this role.”

McAuliffe, who had been mulling a presidential bid at least since leaving the Executive Mansion 15 months ago, announced Wednesday that he would not run.

He said his decision was based in part on the predicament of home-state Democrats, who seemed to be on the cusp of seizing control of the legislature until McAuliffe’s successor, Gov. Ralph Northam, and two other top Democrats were swallowed by scandal.

McAuliffe says he will serve as campaigner in chief for Democrats running for the state House and Senate, assuming a leadership role that Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark R. Herring normally would have fulfilled.

Northam and Herring admitted in February to wearing blackface as young men, and two women have accused Fairfax of sexual assault years ago — claims he has vigorously denied. All three men remain in office but have struggled to move past the controversies.