Gov. McAuliffe?

GOV. MCAULIFFE?…. It’s hardly unprecedented to have a politician make the transition from national party chairman to governor. Mississippi’s Haley Barbour (R) comes to mind.

And it appears that Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton-appointed DNC chair and a prominent surrogate for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, has the same idea.

Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe signed papers Monday signaling a possible run for governor next year in Virginia.

McAuliffe told The Associated Press he set up a campaign committee and will tour Virginia for the next 60 days before making his candidacy certain.

He signed papers setting up his committee after a series of barnstorming campaign appearances across the state on behalf of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

McAuliffe has not held elected office, but his background in Democratic politics is extensive, and has a well-earned reputation for being a prodigious fundraiser. That, coupled with his likely support from the Clintons, makes him a credible candidate.

It won’t however, be easy for McAuliffe. Virginia Republicans are ready to fight aggressively for the governorship, after two terms of Democratic rule (Warner, Kaine). What’s more, state Sen. Creigh Deeds and House Democratic Caucus chairman Brian Moran have a head-start on McAuliffe, having already launched their campaigns.

And lastly, Eric Kleefeld notes “the colorful image” that McAuliffe cultivated during Hillary Clinton’s campaign, posting a video collection of some of his “greatest hits,” some of which paint McAuliffe in a less-than-flattering light.

We’ll see what happens, but I don’t doubt that a McAuliffe campaign — Virginia and New Jersey are the only states with gubernatorial campaigns next year — will keep things interesting.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.