A political operative who has worked closely with House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) is now helping Hillary Clinton’s future White House bid by going to work for Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
“Longtime Republican political strategist Boyd Marcus is endorsing Democrat Terry McAuliffe for governor and will advise his campaign,” the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
Marcus had worked for, the AP reported, the “aborted gubernatorial bid of Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling.” Bolling refused to support Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli after he won the primary to face off against McAuliffe.
“I was looking at the candidates, and I saw Terry McAuliffe as the guy who will work with everybody to get things done,” Marcus said in a phone interview with the AP.
The AP noted too that McAuliffe’s campaign touted the endorsement in a statement from Marcus: “I’ve never before supported any Democrat, but this election Terry is the clear choice for mainstream conservatives.”
As Politico notes, Marcus’s “clientele included House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.”
Marcus actually had been Cantor’s Chief of Staff until 2003, and worked as a founding member of political consulting firm Marcus Allen–a firm that bears his name–with fellow GOP operative Ray Allen, in representing Cantor since then. The firm Marcus Allen is dissolving because of this move by Marcus.
As Politico’s Ken Vogel recently reported, McAuliffe’s bid is largely viewed in the political world as the opening salvo of Hillary Clinton’s likely future White House run. “Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign begins this year in Virginia,” Vogel wrote in April. “She hasn’t said anything about 2016, but Terry McAuliffe’s 2013 gubernatorial campaign is serving as a testing ground for Clinton’s clout, operatives and donors.”
Cantor spokesman Rory Cooper told Breitbart News in response to this development that the number two member of House GOP leadership does in fact support Cuccinelli. “Mr. Cantor strongly supports Ken Cuccinelli and is proud to be headlining a fundraiser for him this week in Richmond,” Cooper said in an email.
Cantor’s office also points to a Tweet the Majority Leader published on Tuesday afternoon as this news was breaking: “I strongly support @KenCuccinelli and look forward to working towards victory in November.” Cantor’s office also said the Majority Leader was unaware of Marcus’s plans until they were announced.
Cantor is continuing, however, to employ the firm that Marcus and Allen founded, which will dissolve and reorganize under Allen’s leadership. Cantor’s team has tried to downplay Marcus’s involvement in helping the Majority Leader, arguing that Allen was the key operative, or principal consultant, as he has employed them as a client.
When presented with the idea that McAuliffe’s campaign is an opening salve for Hillary Clinton’s likely 2016 run, and Cantor’s ex-chief of staff helping McAuliffe is helping Clinton, Cantor spokesman Cooper said: “This is probably the most absurd theory I’ve ever heard.”
Cantor’s office also would not denounce Marcus’s decision and would not say whether the Majority Leader will hire Marcus ever again in the future. “Cantor appreciates Mr. Marcus’ past service but they have clearly gone in different directions,” Cooper said when asked each of those questions.
Cantor’s office would not offer details when asked how much work Marcus did for the Majority Leader in his role at Marcus Allen, and when the last time was that he did any work for Cantor.
Allen is buying Marcus’s shares of the firm, a 20-year-old business, which the AP says “was the home base for Cantor’s political campaigns.”
“Boyd Marcus and I have been friends for nearly 30 years and business partners for 20,” Allen said, according to the AP. “Boyd is doing what he believes is best for himself and his family. I am taking a different direction. We will remain friends even though we will no longer be business associates.”
Breitbart News has reached out to Allen to get more details about Marcus’s work for Cantor and will update if and when he responds to a request for comment.