Mudcat on the Race for Governor

Exclusive Interview: Mudcat Saunders on the Virginia Governor’s Race
Lowell Feld
Blue Commonwealth, Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I just interviewed Dave “Mudcat” Saunders – formerly senior strategist to Mark Warner, Jim Webb and John Edwards – about the Virginia governor’s race. Here are the highlights of what Mudcat had to say, including some most definitely “quotable quotes!”

Regarding Brian Moran’s “fighter not a fundraiser” speech at the Democratic Party of Virginia’s Jefferson-Jackson dinner on February 7, Mudcat commented:

I’ve been to JJ [Jefferson-Jackson] dinners all over the country, and I’ve never seen a Democrat hit another Democrat at one of them. That’s the first time I’ve ever seen another Democrat body slam another Democrat at a Democratic unity dinner. I understand that Terry McAuliffe is like a moving train and you’ve got to slow down the train, but that was not the right political venue for Brian Moran to try to slow him down.

As to Brian Moran’s campaign in general, Mudcat was apparently not impressed, remarking, “I can’t figure out what Brian Moran’s strategy is. It appears his strategy is just to slow down McAuliffe.”

Mudcat had some interesting quotes about Terry McAuliffe, including:

*”Terry is a positive guy, and positive begets positive…no matter if its baseball or politics.”

*”I’m not sure I’ve ever met anybody more positive thinking than Terry McAuliffe. That’s not just a positive attitude but a positive lifestyle as well.”

*”Right now, the whole country – not just Virginia – needs a positive attitude.”

*”This primary’s not about tearing down the party, it’s about lifting up the party.”

On Creigh Deeds, who Mudcat obviously likes a great deal, Mudcat analyzed his campaign this way:

Creigh is not going to beat Terry and Brian in NOVA. If Creigh wins big in the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 9th and doesn’t get creamed in the 8th, 10th and 11th, he can win. Creigh’s a moderate and has a definite path to victory both in June and in November.

Finally, on the issue of connecting to rural Virginia culture, Mudcat – who, by the way, is currently writing what he calls “a Jesus book” – says:

Mark Warner got through to our culture, rural culture. He looked at our culture and said, “this is good, this is fun!” He liked us, so we liked him. It’s not that complicated. Mark did an outstanding job, he worked at it, he spent a lot of time over several years at it.

Terry McAuliffe can get through to the [rural] culture. Like I said, he’s got a positive attitude. Terry’s also got high name recognition amongst Democrats who will vote in the primary. And McAuliffe is a good name to have out here where I live.

I don’t think that Brian’s been out here enough to make a connection with the rural culture in the primary. He’s not well known. He was House Caucus Chair but hardly anybody knows who that is. Brian’s also going up against a lot of money.

I also asked Mudcat about Bill Clinton possibly coming in and campaigning for Terry McAuliffe. In Mudcat’s opinion, Clinton remains highly popular among Democrats in rural Virginia and would certainly be an asset to McAuliffe if he campaigns for him.

Other than his thoughts on the governor’s race, Mudcat sounds good and is enjoying working on his “Jesus book.” Mudcat read me several passages over the phone, including a few that had me “LOL,” and I think he could have a big hit with this one. I’m certainly looking forward to reading it!



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