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Bill Clinton enters Virginia governor's race to help pal Terry McAuliffe

April 22, 2009 |  8:02 pm

Just when you thought you were out, you jump back in.

Bill Clinton, the ex-president whose chief political fundraiser now wants to run for office himself, will provide some payback next week in Virginia.

Terry McAuliffe would like to become the next Democratic governor of Virginia, succeeding Tim Kaine, whose gubernatorial career will be terminated by term limits next year.  We noted back in December McAuliffe's prefabricated commonwealth listening tour to confirm that he was going to run and was prepared to spend a whole lot of other people's money to win.

Virginia Democrats competing for the gubernatorial nomination left to right R. Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran

Terry's real good at raking in money for Bill Clinton and also for Hillary, though she lost anyway and is still working on the rest of her 2008 primary debts with some bizarre showbiz gimmicks.

But here's the little trick to Virginia state campaigns: There are no limits on how much anyone can give anyone.

The governor's office is out for bid.

So next Monday Big Bill, who hasn't been out campaigning for someone in days now, will hit the trail for McAuliffe in Richmond and Roanoke. Polls show McAuliffe in a close three-way Democratic June primary struggle with R. Creigh Deeds, a state senator, and Brian Moran.

In a debate last weekend, all three agreed on most issues, but Deeds tried to enhance his profile by making an issue of his opponents' expansive fundraising, especially from wealthy out-of-staters. In fact, the Democratic trio spent much of the intra-party debate time denouncing their Republican opponent, Robert McDonnell, mentioning him 23 times.

So, if you're scoring at home, Bill Clinton, who used to be a governor, is going to help Terry McAuliffe, who used to be chairman of the Democratic National Committee, become governor of Virginia because the new Democratic president, Barack Obama, who beat the former president's wife, the former first lady, has named the current governor of Virginia as the new part-time chairman of the Democratic National Committee, which would seem to make Kaine also a part-time governor of Virginia. But voters can't do anything about it since governors there are only allowed one term anyway.

By becoming full-time DNC chair next year, Kaine will earn some DC creds in case Obama wants a younger fellow Harvard lawyer in 2012 to replace an old VP, Joe Biden, who became a senator way back when Obama was learning about flax in sixth-grade geography class.

In case you're from the Chicago school of politics and think that money has any connection to winning elections, in the first three months of this year Deeds reported collecting $730,000, Moran $800,000 and McAuliffe $4.2 million, including nearly $3.4 million (80%) from people who can't vote in Virginia. With ballots anyway.

"I've got a lot of friends," McAuliffe said.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Steve Helber / Associated Press (left to right, Deeds, McAuliffe, Moran).

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