Now That the Presidency is Off the Table, What's Next for McAuliffe?

Apr 18, 2019

Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber, File

Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe’s announcement that he will not be running for president may end up reshuffling the deck for this year’s statehouse elections.

Under normal circumstances, Governor Ralph Northam would be leading the effort to elect Democrats to the House of Delegates and state Senate. But after his blackface scandal, his ability to be campaigner-in-chief has been compromised.

Rachel Bitecofer at Christopher Newport University says Terry McAuliffe’s decision to pass on a presidential run allows Northam to stay out of the campaign.

“It takes some of the pressure off of Northam," says Bitecofer. "His first attempt to step out, if you will, back into the public limelight went terribly. The backlash was massive, and it also revealed that Republicans are ready to pounce.”

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says McAuliffe could end up in the Cabinet of a Democratic president. Or…

“There’s always the possibility that Governor McAuliffe may try to be governor again," Farnsworth says. "Virginia has a one consecutive term limit. But once you sit out four years, you’re free to run again, and I’m sure the thought has occurred to the McAuliffe team.”

Only one Virginia governor has ever made a comeback to have two non-consecutive terms: Mills Godwin, who was a Democrat during his first term in the 1960's and then a Republican in his second term in the 1970's.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.