EXCLUSIVE to The Roanoke Star: Terry McAuliffe sat down to talk about his political plans, his electric car business and why he is holding back on formally announcing for governor.
McAuliffe was at the Patrick Henry Hotel Tuesday with a gathering of about 50 elected officials, city economic and planning staff, Carilion representatives and downtown developers. He admitted to a not so well kept secret that he was “interested in running for governor.”
The purpose of his visit was to keep “skin in the game” if U.S. Senator Mark Warner decides not to run. Warner, in April when visiting Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine with U.S. Senate candidate Tim Kaine, would not deny that he was considering running for governor again in 2013.
McAuliffe said, “I don’t think [Warner] is running,” but confirmed that he would wait for his decision in November and yield to Warner if he steps up to the gubernatorial plate. Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is challenging Lt. Governor Bill Bolling for the Republican nomination, said at an ITT Nursing School ribbon cutting on May 7 that he could beat either Warner or McAuliffe. Cuccinelli quipped, “Warner just wants to be governor as he sees it as a better path to the White House.”
Both McAuliffe and Warner said they were laser-focused on getting President Obama reelected and Tim Kaine elected to the U.S. Senate to replace Sen. Jim Webb in 2012. “If [Warner] runs I am 100 percent with him and if he isn’t running then we’re in and I’m 100 percent in,” said McAuliffe. McAuliffe worries about the loss of 125,000 jobs if defense cuts hit Virginia.
McAuliffe ran in the Democratic primary for Virginia governor in a three-way race with Virginia Senator Creigh Deeds and DPVA Chair Brian Moran in 2009. Deeds won and McAuliffe came in a distant second. Deeds was defeated by then Attorney General Bob McDonnell. “Bolling and Cuccinelli are doing their politics … I’m creating jobs,” said McAuliffe.
“I’m also focused on full production of my electric car vehicle company,” he said. On a trip to China he bought what he called “their most advanced electric car company and moved the entire thing to America.” He expects to begin full production on July 6 and they delivered the first car to Denmark last week. His company will be able to build one car per hour. It will be able to travel up to 100 miles per charge with a top end speed of 45 mph.
“All cars will be made by U.S. workers to be sold back abroad. People in politics should do what they say they are going to do. That’s what I’m doing – I’m creating jobs,” he said.
I asked McAuliffe if he had learned anything from his 2009 primary race. He said, “Some people thought the economy was fine and we didn’t need big ideas and maybe they were a little too big at the time.” This time he thinks people will be more receptive since they have now seen the economy stall. “We need manufacturing jobs – they are the bedrock of our community. We can’t be just a service community.”
The Republican’s focus on socially divisive issues is not helping business recruitment in Virginia, he said. “We are sending a message out nationally and globally about this attack on women. Fifty percent of the work force we are trying to attract are women.” They can go to other more receptive states. “Why would you come here with this legislature attempting to pass these ridiculous, very divisive pieces of legislation.”
McAuliffe’s Campaign Manager Levar Stoney said that former Secretary of Technology Aneesh Chopra and Sen. Ralph Northam of Norfolk are slated to run for lieutenant governor. Mike Signer and Sen. Mark Herring are attorney general candidates. Signer ran for lieutenant governor in 2009.