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Ex-Aide to Cantor Backs McAuliffe in Va. Race

Ex-Aide to Cantor Backs McAuliffe in Va. Race

By Caitlin Huey-Burns - August 20, 2013

A prominent Virginia Republican strategist announced Tuesday that he will dissolve his public relations firm in order to endorse and advise Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.

Boyd Marcus's portfolio includes serving as chief of staff for such well-known Republicans as former Gov. Jim Gilmore and Rep. Eric Cantor, and advising the gubernatorial and Senate campaigns of George Allen and the short-lived gubernatorial campaign of current Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.

Marcus’ endorsement of McAuliffe would seem to end speculation that Bolling, who has not endorsed Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, might run as a write-in candidate. He dropped out of the Republican race for governor last year.

In his endorsement of McAuliffe, Marcus called the Democrat "the clear choice for mainstream conservatives." The statement underscores a tension between the Republican establishment in Virginia and the grassroots conservatives who form Cuccinelli's base. 

“Virginia needs an experienced businessman who will put the practical needs of our people ahead of political ideology,” Marcus said in a statement released by the McAuliffe campaign.

Cuccinelli's campaign brushed off the announcement, saying "Virginians are concerned about each candidate's vision for the future and how they plan to grow the economy and create jobs, not who their political consultants are." 

Marcus’ business partner, Ray Allen, continues to advise Cantor’s congressional campaign. The House majority leader was not made aware of Marcus’ endorsement ahead of time, his office told RCP. Cantor, who initially backed Bolling before he exited the race, now supports Cuccinelli and will host a fundraiser for him in Richmond on Thursday. 

Caitlin Huey-Burns is a congressional reporter for RealClearPolitics. She can be reached at chueyburns@realclearpolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter @CHueyBurnsRCP.

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