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December 29, 2008

McAuliffe to spend $80M for governor's race

The Washington Post is putting a hard number on the amount of money that Terry McAuliffe is prepared to spend in his Virginia gubernatorial campaign: $80 million.

The gregarious former DNC chairman hasn’t officially declared his candidacy, but has been barnstorming the state on a listening tour in preparation for a campaign.

If he jumps in, McAuliffe will be facing former state Del. Brian Moran (from Alexandria) and state senator Creigh Deeds (from rural Bath County) in the Democratic primary. The winner of the June primary will face GOP Attorney General Robert McDonnell.

Virginia election law does not place any restrictions on how much money candidates can raise and spend, ensuring that McAuliffe will have a huge cash advantage over his opponents.

But off-year primaries in Virginia tend to be very low-turnout affairs, making the nuts-and-bolts organization of a campaign more important than having vast sums of money. (Sen. Jim Webb won the Senate primary in 2006, with 3 percent voter turnout.)

Then again. McAuliffe is no slouch when it comes to doing the glad-handing and schmoozing necessary to win over base voters, either.