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Kaine Warns Virginia Democrats On Primary Fight

Tim Kaine is expressing concern about what appears to be a contentious primary fight brewing between the Democrats who want to replace him:

RICHMOND, Feb. 26 — Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) on Wednesday night predicted a bruising three-way Democratic primary to replace him as governor, and he said he has already talked with other top party leaders about serving as peacemakers to prevent the candidates from damaging the party’s chances in the general election.

In a wide-ranging interview with Washington Post editors and reporters, Kaine said he thinks a lively contest between former delegate Brian J. Moran, Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (Bath) and Terry McAuliffe will ultimately bolster the party’s chances to maintain its hold on the governor’s mansion.

Kaine said he recently spoke to Virginia’s two Democratic U.S. senators, Mark R. Warner and James Webb, about serving in the role of mediator or policeman to rein in the candidates if their attacks go too far.

“We would like to keep it in acceptable bounds,” Kaine said. “I can see myself weighing with these guys, saying, ‘Hey, think about November. You’re acting in ways that may not be helpful in November.’ ”

The three Democrats have recently begun waging the state’s first seriously contested primary for governor since 1977. Kaine said all three will be under “intense pressure” to make sure they are “calibrating the right tone.”

There have already been signs the primary will get heated.

At a party fundraiser this month, Moran took repeated swipes at McAuliffe in an effort to portray him as a professional campaign money man who was out of touch with average Virginians. Some Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), later expressed concerns that Moran’s approach was too negative for the venue.

A few days later, McAuliffe took several jabs at Moran and his advisers, including Democratic strategist Joe Trippi, at a roast in front of the Richmond press corps. McAuliffe often pledges on the campaign trail that he “will never say a negative word about a Democrat.” But he has also started airing television ads that imply, without naming them, that Deeds and Moran are products of an entrenched Richmond establishment.

Something tells me this one will be fun to watch from the sidelines.

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