Virginia gubernatorial elections are out of the ordinary in at least two ways.
Most of the states hold their gubernatorial elections in even-numbered years. In the majority of those states, the election is on the November election day that's half-way between presidential elections. Virginia is one of a handful of exceptions. Its governors are elected in an odd-numbered year, on the November election day that comes one year after a presidential election. So, their next election for that office will be on November 3 of this year.
Virginia governors cannot run for reelection. Many states formerly had such a restriction, but every such state other than Virginia has repealed that limitation. Here in Pennsylvania, for example, one of the constitutional amendments initiated by a constitutional convention held in 1967-8 allows our governors to serve up to two consecutive terms.
Therefore, Virginia's Democratic incumbent Governor Tim Kaine will not be on the ballot.
The highest-profile name on this year's Democratic primary ballot is that of Terry McAuliffe, who was a senior aide to President Clinton. McAuliffe received quite a splash of publicity this week when AFSCME, the public employee union, endorsed his candidacy.
The primary will be June 9. His opponents are Creigh Deeds, a state senator, and Brian Moran, a former member of the legislature's lower house, the House of Delegates. The polls have so far shown no clear leader.
Bob McDonnell, formerly Virginia's attorney general, is unopposed for the Republican nomination.
There's an interesting quirk, that I noted here, whereby Virginia's electorate seems to enjoy the opportunity that their election schedule provides, to cast a protest vote against the party of whichever president had been elected the year before. McDonnell is counting on a continuation of that trend in 2009.