Former Alexandria Mayor Kerry J. Donley, is Virginia Governor Mark Warner’s choice to lead the state Democratic Party.
Donley did not seek re-election in May and stepped down after two terms as the city’s mayor in June of this year.
“I really wanted to spend more time with my family and focus more attention on my job at the bank,” Donley said. He is a vice president at Virginia Commerce Bank.
“Mame Reiley and Governor Warner talked to me about becoming chairman of the state Party and I felt that it would be a good opportunity for me and that I could accomplish some things for the Party,” he said.
While the Democrats gained three seats in the House in last week’s election, they lost one seat in the Senate and are still a significant minority. There are 37 Democrats in the House and 16 in the Senate.
“We made more gains in last week’s election than we have since 1975, so we are very optimistic,” said Reiley, the head of Warner’s political action committee, One Virginia, and the chair of the Democratic National Committee’s Women’s Caucus and the newly-elected vice president of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority.
“Kerry is the right choice to lead the Party at this time and to help recruit good Democratic candidates statewide.”
Donley said that this is his top priority. “There were entirely too many uncontested races in the last election,” he said. “The first thing that I am going to do is to spend a weekend in each of the four regions of the state talking to local and regional Party leaders. I want to get to know them and to gain an understanding of their local issues and talk to them about recruiting viable candidates for the General Assembly.”
DONLEY ALREADY knows some of those Party leaders because of his work with the Virginia Municipal League. “Kerry already has relationships with a number of key Party people throughout the state and that will serve him well in this new job,” said Senator Patricia S. “Patsy” Ticer (D-30). “He has worked well with the Virginia Municipal League and on forging an urban coalition to deal with urban issues in cities throughout Virginia. I think that he will do very well recruiting candidates for us.”
Delegate Brian Moran (D-46) agreed. “This is great news for the Democratic Party and for me, personally,” Moran said. “Kerry has a great deal of knowledge about, and experience in, dealing with local issues. In addition to that, he’s a good friend.”
Susan Kellom, chair of the Alexandria Democratic Committee, said, “Kerry has a way of bringing groups of people together who have divergent views on issues and getting them to work together. He can listen to a discussion, synthesize the issues and put forward a plan of action that most in the group can support. He is energetic and will work well with Party leaders throughout the state to sustain the gains that we have made under the stewardship of Mark Warner.”
“Kerry Donley served with distinction as Alexandria’s elected mayor for seven years, as vice mayor for two and as a member of Alexandria’s City Council since his election in 1988, so he will bring the unique and important perspective of locally elected Democrats to the forefront in his new role as Party chairman,” Warner said. “The most important step we can take to reinvigorate the Democratic Party in Virginia is to start at the grassroots by building a solid farm team of local elected Democrats.'
“This past election shows we are off to a good start, and I know Kerry will work hard with Democrats all over Virginia to create opportunities for the future election of Democrats at all levels of government,” the governor said. “He will also help articulate the Democratic Party’s positions in the most important debate we will have this coming year – how to restructure our tax system so that everyone pays their fair share and we make needed investments in our growing education system.”
WARNER HAS called members of the Central Steering Committee to inform them that Donley is his choice to lead the Party. There are no other candidates for the office at this time, so Donley is expected to be elected at the Party’s quarterly meeting this weekend.
“It certainly won’t take as much of my time as being mayor,” Donley said. “I will still have time to spend with my family and for my job. It’s going to be very exciting.”