To McAuliffe's Surprise, Va. Dem Primary Up for Grabs

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 9, 2009 9:10 AM CDT
Jim Moran, left, R. Creigh Deeds, and Terry McAuliffe, the three Democratic candidates for Virginia governor, laugh together after their final debate in Annandale, Va., May 19, 2009.   (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
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(Newser) – Democrats head to the polls today in Virginia for a surprisingly tight gubernatorial primary, Politico reports. Last-minute polls show Creigh Deeds surging ahead of Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran. If he pulls out the win, it’ll be a major upset—McAuliffe, the former DNC chair, had been expected to win handily—but with turnout expected to be tiny, it’s anyone’s game.

The campaigns are expecting around 155,000 voters, matching the turnout for the 2006 primary. That figure, plus a lack of polling by the cash-strapped Washington Post, has left the outcome unclear. McAuliffe’s big checkbook and national profile made him the early favorite, but Deeds grabbed the Post endorsement and dominates Virginia’s rural areas. Moran, meanwhile, is relying on his vast network of local elected officials and strong support in Northern Virginia.