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Connolly Says He’d Be Viable Statewide

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The conventional thinking in Virginia state politics is that it’s hard for a politician from Northern Virginia to run statewide, but Rep. Gerry Connolly (D) isn’t buying it. In a brief interview with Roll Call, Connolly laid out the financial challenges of a potential Senate bid and said it is “too early to rule anything in or anything out.”

Connolly said his background leading Fairfax County, home to 600,000 jobs, could have statewide appeal should he make a bid for Senate to succeed Sen. Jim Webb. Webb, a one-term Democrat who unseated Republican Sen. George Allen in 2006, announced Wednesday he’s not running. Allen is attempting to win back his seat.

“We have more jobs than the District of Columbia,” Connolly said Thursday. He added that he could sell his record of helping to create jobs even in conservative southwest Virginia, where employment is a top concern. And he said that there are some similarities in voting patterns between Northern Virginia and the Hampton Roads area that he could tap.

But Connolly said that he’s not sure he will run, noting the drawbacks of a potentially “messy” primary and having to raise an enormous amount of campaign cash.

Just how enormous? Connolly figures he’d have to raise $25 million.

The Democratic field is wide open, with no candidates in the race so far. Defeated Rep. Tom Perriello from the Lynchburg area has been mentioned, along with several others who have unsuccessfully attempted statewide runs. But Democratic National Committee Chairman Tim Kaine, the former governor who has said he wouldn’t run, is the favorite pick among Democratic officials who hope he’ll change his mind.

“It’s Kaine, Kaine or Kaine,” a Northern Virginia Democratic source told Roll Call on Thursday.

Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

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