Former DNC Chair and high-profile Democrat Terry McAuliffe is ramping up his fundraising efforts, the most explicit indication yet that he will run for governor of Virginia.
The Washington Post reported on Monday that former Congressman Tony Coelho and Democratic fundraiser Michael Fraioli were telling contacts that McAuliffe "is running for governor" and that they were helping him raise money before the Dec. 31 reporting deadline.
"Please excuse us for the mass email," the two write. "As the subject line of this email indicates, and we suspect you already know, our friend Terry McAuliffe is running for governor of Virginia....forward this email with your own message encouraging your friends to make a contribution to Terry's campaign. Please make your contribution before December 31."
Officials close to McAuliffe downplayed the report, saying that the longtime Clinton confidante and Northern Virginia native has not made up his mind and will let his plans be known only after the New Year.
"He's exploring," said Tracy Sefl, a McAuliffe aide in an email. "He's previously said he'll announce his intentions on January 7 (www.terrymcauliffe.com!)."
Others in the state, however, seem convinced that McAuliffe is going to be a candidate. One source close to the race, not with team McAuliffe, said he expects Macker to raise as much as $10 million by the end of the December finance period. That total would be downright extraordinary and incredibly unlikely in this political and economic climate -- many donors tapped out for the presidential race, stock prices have plummeted, and the Democratic primary in Virginia isn't usually a big draw.
But McAuliffe has the connections to big Democratic pockets, and his time at the DNC turned him into a a prodigious fundraiser. His opponents, Rep. Brian Moran and State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, are already preparing to be massively outraised and outspent. If he runs, McAuliffe will use his money advantage as a means to overcome his lack of deep ties to Virginia.
More important than expenditures, however, could be endorsements. And the big ones to watch for will be Sens. Jim Webb and Mark Warner, the latter of whom is close to Moran.
UPDATE: The source suggesting McAuliffe could raise $10 million before the filing deadline was not with his team. A few readers were confused about this line, so we updated it in the piece and added this alert.
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