Virginians for McDonnell

A bi-partisan group of Virginia political activists has come together to support Republican gubernatorial nominee Bob McDonnell. The organization, Virginians for McDonnell, includes several Democrats as well as folks who worked for and supported Democrats in previous elections.

McDonnell announced the group’s formation at a press conference this afternoon at the General Assembly Building. Among those who joined him was Wyatt Durrette, the Republican attorney general candidate in 1981 and GOP gubernatorial nominee in 1985. Durrette supported Gov. Tim Kaine (D) in his 2005 bid for office.

Durrette said McDonnell “knows where the partisan line stops and the governing line begins.”

Also throwing their support behind McDonnell are Judy Ford Wason, who directed Virginians for Warner — a similar group that backed Democrat Mark Warner’s successful run for governor in 2001 — and Jane Woods, Warner’s Health and Human Resources Secretary.

Wason said this endorsement is unique because it brings together people who “vote for the person, not the party.”

Democrats, by the way, slammed McDonnell on this point, saying the GOP nominee has for years stood in the way of progress for Virginians by opposing Warner and Kaine initiatives.

McDonnell’s campaign does raise an interesting point, though. If Democratic nominee Creigh Deeds has been running as the best person to continue the Warner-Kaine tradition, why are former Warner political types jumping behind McDonnell? Those involved say they believe McDonnell is best-suited to bring Virginians through these challenging times. 

In my mind, endorsements raise this question: do voters really care what former cabinet secretaries and gubernatorial candidates say? This is not in any way to slight the records of anyone involved in this event. I’m just not sure an endorsement from anyone other than a major player carries much weight with the average voter in, say, Fluvanna County.

(One random tidbit — the “Virginians for McDonnell” bumper stickers that the campaign passed out at today’s press conference happen to be almost the exact shades of blue and green that Deeds has used in all of his campaign materials.)

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