The Virginia gubernatorial race is getting a distinctly national campaign feel to it. On Wednesday, Rep. Brian Moran's campaign announced that prominent media consultant Joe Trippi would serve as general strategist for the Virginia Democrat.
The hiring ups the ante a bit in the off-year primary. Trippi, who was one of the top-ranking officials for John Edwards' presidential campaign and ran Howard Dean's effort in 2004, is known as a forward-looking, tech savvy operative. He also has a somewhat fractious history with the Clinton machine, owing to his preference for outsider insurgent candidates. In one of the more contentious moments of the Democratic primary, he called Mark Penn out for twice mentioning the word "cocaine" on air when discussing Barack Obama's admitted and long-passed use of drugs.
Now Trippi will be leading the charge against another Clinton insider, Terry McAuliffe, in what is shaping up to be a high-priced, emotionally charged Democratic primary. In an entry announcing his hiring on Daily Kos, Trippi offers a pretty overt outline of how he wants the race framed: with Moran as the Obama figure and McAullife representing the party elite.
"I know how important this campaign will be," he writes. "We cannot go back to the way politics was. Like Obama, Brian Moran embraces a politics powered by the people, empowering supporters, not relying on millions of high-dollar donations and the status-quo party establishment."
Where the third candidate, State Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, lies in this formulation remains to be seen.