At an August 20 gathering in Richmond at which Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell and four of his predecessors appeared on stage together (and four others appeared in pre-recorded video messages), two former governors offered their opinions of the 2013 gubernatorial campaign. The occasion was a tribute to retiring Delegate Lacey Putney, who is leaving the General Assembly after 52 years in office.
This year three candidates – Republican Ken Cuccinelli, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, and Libertarian Robert Sarvis – are seeking to succeed McDonnell, who is limited to one four-year term.
Former Governor L. Douglas Wilder, who also served as lieutenant governor in the 1980s and later as the first popularly-elected mayor of Richmond, and former Governor Jim Gilmore, who had also served as state attorney general and is currently president of the Free Congress Foundation, spoke to the Charlottesville Libertarian Examiner about this year's race for governor.
“The candidate that brings the meat to the public and the issues to the public with meaningful discussions and ideas with vision,” Wilder said, “will be the candidate that will catch the attention” of the voters.
“Right now,” he pointed out, the message the major party candidates are sending is “'the other guy's bad, I'm better.'”
The public, Wilder said, “is a little sick of that.”
Consequently, he argued, this is “going to be a 'turnout' election,” meaning that it depends upon which candidate “will have sufficient base support to get their people to be at the polls” on November 5, “and to generate the kind of enthusiasm that'll carry over.” to electoral victory.
Demurring on a prediction of who will win, Wilder concluded: “Right now it's a toss-up.”
Former Governor Gilmore asserted his support for the Republican ticket, which in addition to Cuccinelli includes the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor, E.W. Jackson, and the party's candidate for attorney general, Mark Obenshain.
“It's too soon to know how this is going to develop,” Gilmore said.
“There'll be competing narratives and we don't know yet which narrative will capture the imagination of the people of the state,” he explained. “I certainly stand by the Republican ticket as I always have, but the jury is out as to how this campaign develops.”
Gilmore agreed that the tone of the 2013 campaign has been a bit more negative than similar contests in past years, but added that “the politics of Virginia always has been hardball and it will remain so, I'm sure, because there is so much at stake.”
“What's at stake,” he concluded, “is the future of the citizens of our state.”
The tribute to Lacey Putney was hosted at Richmond CenterStage by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.