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 GoodlatteOvernight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Warrantless wiretapping reform legislation circulates on Capitol Hill MORE and Eric CantorEric CantorEric Cantor offering advice to end ‘immigration wars’ Trump's olive branch differs from the golden eras of bipartisanship After divisive rally, Trump calls for unity 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 Robert WarnerTrump: Why isn't Senate looking into 'Fake News Networks'? 5 takeaways from Senate Russian meddling presser Trump: 'America is truly a nation in mourning' 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 Sidney McCainRubio asks Army to kick out West Point grad with pro-communist posts The VA's woes cannot be pinned on any singular administration Overnight Defense: Mattis offers support for Iran deal | McCain blocks nominees over Afghanistan strategy | Trump, Tillerson spilt raises new questions about N. Korea policy MORE (R-Ariz.) in 2008.
 
Businessman Keith Fimian, who’s challenging Rep. Gerry ConnollyGerry ConnollyBipartisan pair wants commission to oversee Iran deal Dem lawmaker warns of 'political and moral limitations’ to working with Trump Dems ready to deal with Trump — but it's complicated 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.”