Democrats make major investment in Virginia

A nationally funded Democratic group has purchased advertising time in four Virginia media markets, targeting the likely Republican governor nominee even as its own candidates head toward an increasingly bitter primary.

Common Sense Virginia, a group funded by the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), on Tuesday will launch a television ad with more than $550,000 behind it, aimed at cutting down former Attorney General Bob McDonnell (R).

The spot, which will run in the Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk and Washington, D.C., media markets, will paint McDonnell as out of touch with average Virginians. The ad accuses McDonnell of working to reject $125 million in federal unemployment funds.

"If Bob McDonnell won't stand up for Virginia's unemployed, do you think he'd stand up for you?" the ad asks.

The ad is Democrats' first paid media shot attacking McDonnell, who is running largely unopposed in the GOP primary.

While Republicans avoided a primary, Democrats did not, and now three well-financed candidates will head to a June 9 showdown that could leave the winner with a depleted war chest.

Most public polls have shown former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, state Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) and former Assemblyman Brian Moran (D) running within a few points of each other, though most polls show McAuliffe with a lead.

Common Sense Virginia is an organization created for the express purpose of helping the eventual Democratic nominee with national money. The DGA funded similar organizations in Washington state and North Carolina in 2008.

Holding both the Virginia and New Jersey governorships, the only two races in 2009, Democrats find themselves defending an open seat as Virginia Gov. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineOvernight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran Senate passes bill to undo tax increase on Gold Star military families MORE (D) steps down, and an embattled incumbent in New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D).

Governors races will take center stage in 2010 when, along with the midterm congressional elections, at least 16 chief executives will be forced out by term limits. In preparation, both the DGA and the Republican Governors Association have reported raising record amounts of cash.