written for and originally posted at Blue Commonwealth, the Virginia political blog of which I am Editor in Chief
There are three good men running for Governor of Virginia. I like all three. That has made the process of deciding for whom to vote difficult. Further, my position as Editor in Chief of Blue Commonwealth has inclined me towards attempting to delay a decision as long as possible, both to have as much information as possible, and to be as fair as possible to all three campaigns. I had planned to wait until just before I voted to decided. But yesterday I realized that I knew for whom I wanted to vote. Therefore the only intellectually honest thing for me to do is to announce that decision, and to offer the explanation of how and why I reached it.
I will be voting for Creigh Deeds for Governor of Virginia.
Yesterday I wrote this analysis of the state of the Virginia Governor's race. The analysis leads me to strongly believe that it will be difficult for Creigh to win the nomination, and that the likelihood is that Terry McAuliffe will win. In making the analysis I found that if anything it inclined me more strongly to Creigh. I will explain why I am for Creigh, but let me first explain why I will not vote for either of his opponents in the primary, even as I again strongly commit to voting for and strongly supporting whichever gains the Democratic nomination.
Brian Moran has much to commend him. He has dedicated most of his adult life to public service. He knows Virginia. He has demonstrated an ability to work across partisan divides - something extremely important in these critical times - at the same time as he has worked hard on behalf of other Democrats to increase the Democratic numbers in the House of Delegates. As much as I like Brian, and believe he would be a good governor, I have to acknowledge that I have been disappointed by a campaign that I have found too negative for my taste. His is the only one of the three campaigns to make me less inclined to vote for the candidate. That by itself is not something that disqualifies him for my support, otherwise I would not be inclined to strongly support him should he win the nomination.
I began the this campaign as a skeptic about Terry McAuliffe. As I have gotten to know the man some since December, I have been impressed by his willingness to listen and learn. I have seen that he now knows a great deal about Virginia. He seems committed to making the Old Dominion the best state he can. He has not only refused to criticize his opponents, he has found things to praise about them: we have at Blue Commonwealth been running front page stories in which we ask for only positive comments about each of the candidates. We began with one on Brian Moran, to which Terry responded
Brian has a distinguished legislative record.. In yesterday's story on Creigh Terry offered this:
I always say that he'd be a much better governor than Bob McDonnell. In particular, I commend his efforts to raise teacher salaries. We can't expect that the best education for our students when we're not even paying our teachers the national average.
Creigh has been a leader in promoting alternative energy technologies.There is no doubt that Terry can bring money into the race, as he has already demonstrated. The quality of his campaign has been impressive, and in his case perhaps made me more willing to consider his candidacy. And as noted yesterday, the current structure of the race seems to indicate the likelihood that he will be the nominee. But I don't vote for someone just because I think s/he will win.
In particular, I want to applaud his efforts to give localities authority to incentivize clean energy improvements. State government should not be stifling local innovation in this area and Creigh has fought hard to move the ball forward.
Ironically, it was in writing my analysis of the state of the race that I came to understand my own thinking. I had several occasions yesterday to remind people that in his narrow loss to McDonnell four years ago Creigh was outspent 2-1 and some key figures (such as Doug Wilder) inexplicably failed to support him - give Creigh $50,000 in the last week, or a full endorsement by Wilder and I have no doubt that Creigh would have been Attorney General and as the only statewide elected Democrat running would probably have been unopposed and even more likely unbeatable as Democratic nominee for Governor.
I have known Creigh since meeting him at a fundraiser in Arlington early in the last cycle. I encountered him at several other events that year, including another fundraiser at the home of Don Beyer. In the years since his narrow loss I have gotten to know him better. I remember clearly how he helped us with the Congress: he had a meet and greet for Tom Perriello back at the Marriott after the 2008 Virginia Jeff-Jack Dinner. And one of my clearest memories of the long election night in 2006 was Creigh taking the microphone when the CNN numbers showed Jim Webb trailing in mid-evening reminding people that he knew something about close races and that people should not give up hope.
On a personal level, I probably like Creigh the most of the three men, but that by itself is an insufficient reason to support him for high state office. I find him an admirable person. I can remember him cutting out early from one important political event so that he could drive his daughter to the airport the following morning. His own life circumstances has made him well aware of the importance of government in helping those who start without advantages.
Creigh has been an exemplary public servant. He has taken on and won difficult races before, and he certainly has not shied away from doing the hard work of a state legislator, both in the House of Delegates, where he - like Brian - served as Democratic Caucus Chair, and in the State Senate where he has advocated for causes such as non-partisan redistricting.
Creigh's passion for Virginia and its people is palpable. It is what drives him to public service. When people disagree with him, he is willing to listen, and sometimes to change. For example, on the matter of the anti-gay marriage amendment, Creigh says that he is a work in progress. People can grow when they encounter ideas that challenge their preconceptions, especially when they see the reality of the impact of those preconceptions on the lives of others.
I don't think there is any doubt that Creigh would be a formidable candidate against Bob McDonnell in a general, with his ability to draw from parts of the state that are not traditionally as strongly Democratic. He has shown wise management of the campaign funds he has raised.
All of these are good but insufficient reasons for deciding to vote FOR Creigh Deeds. In my mind there is ultimately only one reason, and it is this: I have no doubt that he would be a superb Governor, able to bring people together. While I do not doubt that his two opponents could be very good governors, which is why I have no hesitation in saying I will support either with enthusiasm as nominee, I strongly believe Creigh would be the best governor.
This is not a cold and dispassionate analysis. It is a response to the man, to his passion, to his willingness to listen to others. Creigh is not the smoothest politician, although no one should ever underestimate either his political judgment or his political skill. He has a passion for people as well as for Virginia. Some listen to him speak and wonder if he is articulate enough. I listen and hear that his passion comes through, that sometimes it is so intense, his caring so deep, that it almost overcomes his ability to express it verbally, and yet it connects, not only with me, but with a wide range of Virginians.
I wonder if my endorsement of Creigh makes any difference. I am a teacher, a blogger, one person. Perhaps my words will have no impact, except to annoy supporters of the other candidates. Maybe my reasoning will invite at least a few people to take another look at Creigh Deeds. But all that is superfluous.
I announce my support FOR Creigh Deeds. He is a fine man. He is an exemplary public servant. I have no doubt that he would be an outstanding Governor of Virginia. These are the only things that matter in my making this decision.
I wish all three candidates well in the remaining four plus week. I hope that people will consider carefully the choices they make, the reasons they use.
I have done that. As a Democrat and as a Virginian, my choice is clear.
Creigh Deeds for Governor.