Holding office nearly 10 years ago, Terry McAuliffe delighted the business community and won bipartisan favor as lieutenant governor. When he sought to take over the Democratic National Committee, he took on Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York.
But since becoming Virginia’s governor last year, Mr. McAuliffe has struggled to balance his personality and business experience with the personal politics of Attorney General Mark R. Herring, the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor in the next election.
Through the summer, Mr. McAuliffe’s lead in the polls over Republican Ed Gillespie has shrunk to single digits, a result that shocked many in Democratic circles who viewed Mr. Gillespie as a low-key and underfinanced force.
Republicans said the primary results strongly suggested the state had rebelled against the rule of Mr. McAuliffe, the attorney general. But for all of Mr. McAuliffe’s problems with the voters, few have close to embraced Mr. Gillespie.
Walking into a coffee shop near his home in Arlington, Mr. McAuliffe was not impressed with the number of voters he had counted on arriving at his campaign office on Wednesday morning. “This is a garden spot,” he told a reporter.