by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Terry McAuliffe is a loyal Clinton man. He served faithfully as a foot soldier to a political dynasty that held enormous influence over the Democratic Party.
McAuliffe, the 2021 Democratic nominee for Virginia governor, cut his teeth doing the former first family’s bidding, asking always “How high?” when told to jump.
On Tuesday, with his stunning defeat at the hands of Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, McAuliffe revealed not only the limits of his political influence but also that of the Clinton brand, which has suffered so badly since 2016 one can’t help but ask: Is it worth anything now?
It’s a big fall from the 1990s, when Bill Clinton held the White House. It’s a big fall from 2008, when a significant portion of the Democratic Party and its base believed then-Sen. Hillary Clinton was the natural choice for the presidential nomination, and from 2016, when the Democratic Party tipped the scales decisively in Hillary Clinton’s favor.
But now? McAuliffe could not even get over the finish line in Virginia, where a Republican has not won a statewide race since 2009. His connections to the Clinton family meant nothing.
The Virginia gubernatorial race is reminiscent of what happened to Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, whom the Clintons rewarded in 2009 for her years of loyal service by practically bequeathing her a Senate seat previously held by Hillary Clinton. Gillibrand was supposed to be a continuation of a political dynasty that brought the Democratic Party so much success and victory in the 1990s. Gillibrand even ran for president in 2020.
No one cared when Gillibrand dropped out of the Democratic presidential primary long before even the Iowa caucuses.
Even the Democratic Party didn’t care.