The usual hard-core partisans probably won't be swayed by hip-hop stars — they probably have no idea who the second two names are anyway — but the attention can't hurt Terry McAuliffe's campaign.
Clinton has megawatt star power, but the buzz at his rally was more about Clinton sightseeing than policy laid out by McAuliffe's campaign.
The attention has to be more than a little frustrating for Sen. Creigh Deeds and Brian Moran.
Critics have questioned the size of the crowds showing up for McAuliffe events with Clinton and other stars, which Christopher Newport University's Quentin Kidd said is part of the hangover from Barack Obama.
"Whether we're doing it consciously or not, we're comparing the crowd from a presidential race to a partisan gubernatorial primary," Kidd said.
College of William & Mary government professor John McGlennon said that McAuliffe's team would love huge crowds, but they are probably more than happy with the photo-op — like the one Thursday in Norfolk with Clinton in front of the USS Wisconsin, a clear nod to the region's military heritage.
"It's about exposure," McGlennon said. "Obviously what they're looking for is to get a spot on TV or a story in tomorrow's paper."
National eyesIt is increasingly clear that the Virginia gubernatorial race will draw national attention as a litmus test for Democrats and Republicans in the wake of Barack Obama's victory in Virginia.
The upside of all that attention is probably advertising dollars for television stations and a steady stream of interesting political analysis from folks who don't usually focus on Virginia's political trench warfare.
This weekend, the must-read in the race is at Salon.com — a liberal online magazine that looks at the dynamics between McAuliffe and Moran and Deeds.
Here's a snippet on McAuliffe:
"If he wins the nomination, the general election that would follow might give the political world the first hint of an answer to two questions: One, just how blue is Virginia these days? The state's demographics have shifted; this isn't the same Virginia that Clinton lost twice in the 1990s. But it still isn't reliably in the Democratic column.
How well a nationally prominent fundraiser who's never so much as run for dogcatcher will do seeking to become chief executive of a purple state remains to be seen.
The second question — which a McAuliffe loss in the primary might help settle, too — is, can the Obama campaign's strategy and grass-roots tactics work with a rich white guy at the top of the ticket instead of Barack Obama?"
McDonnell has something of a bye until June 10 — when Democrats will have picked a winner.
But McDonnell is also dealing with folks like Common Sense Virginia — the political action group set up by the Democratic Governors Association — which started running ads against McDonnell a few weeks ago.
Titled "Experience" and "Family" the two ads are all warm and fuzzy, introducing McDonnell the father, husband and fighter against online sexual predators.
Plus McDonnell shows off some sweet vintage Army gear and flashes a Dad sense of humor. It's all part of the "introduce yourself" round for the GOP.
The ads have the basic consistency of a Cialis commercial or the opening credits of a 1980's family sitcom — think "Just the Ten of Us" or "Growing Pains" — but that's exactly where McDonnell should be right now.
The Democrats are off slugging each other until at least June 9 and most folks won't start paying attention to the race until the end of summer, so McDonnell is building positive name recognition and setting the table.
Hopefully, McDonnell's campaign brings in a sassy British butler this summer so we can talk about Mr. Belveder, too.
Kimball Payne can be reached at 247-4756 or via e-mail at email@example.com