Whether it is the Reston based Northern Virginia Technology Council’s political action committee or former Senator Phil Puckett the very successful political operative Terry McAuliffe is finding that the tactics that served him so well as Bill Clinton’s bagman have been largely ineffective as a candidate and Governor.
In 2013, when the NVTC PAC informed McAuliffe that they would be endorsing Ken Cuccinelli in 2013, McAuliffe enlisted high ranking Virginia Democrats to reach out and pressure the council to reverse their decision. It was reported that council members received either phone calls or emails from United States Senator Mark Warner, Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax), Sen. Barbara Favola (D-Arlington) and Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) with threatening advice warning the council that a Cucinelli endorsement will result in a frigid frigid relationship with Democrat legislators and doors will be closed [when the council seeks help with its legislative agenda]. Threatening that if they did not capitulate, they would make it difficult to impossible for the NVTC to achieve their goals.
Fast forward to 2014 when faced with the resignation of Sen. Phillip Puckett. Puckett cited family reasons, specifically to enable his daughter to be confirmed to her full six-year term to the bench. However, his resignation would also mean the loss of Democrat control of the senate and the governor’s bid for Medicaid expansion, McAuliffe again called for a full court press. Senator Mark Warner along with others including the governor’s chief of staff, Paul Reagan called the Puckett residence to convince Puckett to stay on. This time instead of the stick, it appears the carrot was employed. Allegedly Warner discussed the possibility of a federal judgeship for Puckett’s daughter and the transcript of Reagan’s voice mail suggests an opportunity for Ms. Puckett to head a state agency.
When the carrot proved ineffective it is now reported that the Governor himself contacted Puckett with what Puckett’s attorney characterized as an angry voicemail. In it the governor communicated his personal vitriol toward the former senator over the impact of his resignation. Puckett is not currently making the transcript of the voicemail public but it reportedly closed with words to the effect that he hoped Puckett could live with his decision.
I suspect Mr. Puckett will have no problem sleeping at night knowing his sacrifice enabled his daughter to achieve her desire to be confirmed to a full 6 year term and serve as a judge in the commonwealth. I also am not surprised that McAuliffe spokesman Brian Coy said the governor does not regret making the call. Terry McAuliffe, a man who brags about choosing to politics over his family, who left his crying wife and newborn baby in the back of a cab to attend a political fundraiser, wouldn’t.