Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) has been working away from the spotlight to elect Republican candidates this cycle, and his efforts could pay dividends if he chooses to run for higher office.



McDonnell has traveled around the country to appear at fundraising events for a dozen gubernatorial candidates, four Senate candidates and every major Republican campaign committee, according to a spokesman for the governor. He’s raised some $2.5 million for the beneficiaries through his appearances.



In Virginia, McDonnell has raised money and campaigned for nine of the House incumbents and challengers in the state. The only two Virginia Republicans he hasn’t raised money for are Reps. Bob GoodlatteBob GoodlatteCongressional investigations — not just special counsels — strengthen our democracy How Trump's legal immigration cuts could be a blessing to Dreamers Judiciary Committee Republicans want a second special counsel: report MORE and Eric CantorEric CantorEx-RNC spokesman: After Trump remarks how can I tell minorities to vote GOP Kelly’s challenge? Bringing stability to Trump White House Special interests hide behind vets on Independence Day MORE, both of whom hold safe GOP seats. 



McDonnell’s efforts haven’t generated the kind of White House speculation that’s surrounded New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) campaigning this cycle, despite their similarities. 

Both men ran effective campaigns to win back governors' mansions from Democrats in 2009, but Christie’s star has risen faster in their first year in office.
 

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Christie has made campaign appearances in several states, including Iowa. He vigorously denies he has any presidential ambitions. 

McDonnell, meanwhile, has worked more this campaign year out of the spotlight. Still, his appearances have gained him staunch allies who could help him in another campaign. McDonnell was elected in 2009 by an astounding 17 percentage points over Democrat Creigh Deeds. Virginia governors are limited to serving one term.
 
Other former Virginia governors, including George Allen (R) and Sen. Mark WarnerMark WarnerTrump declares 'racism is evil' after firestorm How the New South became a swing region How to fix Fannie and Freddie to give Americans affordable housing MORE (D-Va.), launched successful bids for the upper chamber. At various points in their career, both Warner and Allen mulled presidential runs.
 
Warner was elected to the Senate in 2008, and Allen may run again for the Senate in 2012.
 
McDonnell is unlikely to run for president in 2012, but could be eyed as a vice presidential candidate in order to win the crucial state of Virginia. President Obama won the commonwealth by six percentage points over Sen. John McCainJohn McCainBush biographer: Trump has moved the goalpost for civilized society White House to pressure McConnell on ObamaCare McCain: Trump needs to state difference between bigots and those fighting hate MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2008.
 
Businessman Keith Fimian, who’s challenging Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerry ConnollyHow the New South became a swing region Three dead after violent clashes at white nationalist rally House Democrats call for transparency in Trump's deregulatory panels MORE (D-Va.), said he’s gotten “tons” of help from McDonnell.
 
“It’s been great,” he said, noting the governor held two fundraisers for him in the last two months of the campaign. “Bob’s a very busy guy. He’s in high demand, so we never expected to have him come more than twice.”

Car dealer Scott RigellScott RigellGOP rushes to embrace Trump GOP lawmaker appears in Gary Johnson ad Some in GOP say Trump has gone too far MORE, Rep. Glenn Nye’s (D-Va.) challenger, considers McDonnell an old friend.

“He’s been the featured guest at my birthday party last year in the primary, which is wonderful,” he said. “He’s introduced me to some of his friends. He’s been helpful.”

The governor also raised money for Rigell, recorded a robo-call and appeared at a Monday-night get-out-the-vote rally with him in Virginia Beach.

“I don’t think his presence in the governor’s mansion in and of itself is the deciding factor, but it’s a clear indication that people are ready to trust Republican leadership that has clear principles and has the right ideas,” he said.

Rigell said he even occasionally referenced McDonnell in his stump speeches. “He’s setting a wonderful example at the state level as governor for really what needs to happen in Washington.”

State Sen. Robert HurtRobert HurtDemocrat defeats controversial chair of House Wall Street subpanel Republican groups launch final ad blitz in key House battlegrounds Armed protester stands outside Dem's office for 12 hours MORE, Rep. Tom Perriello’s (D-Va.) Republican challenger, has also benefited from the governors’ help.

Hurt called McDonnell’s involvement “a huge asset to our campaign.”