Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe created American jobs with his recently acquired electric-car company - just not in Virginia.
After he was asked about it at a campaign event this week, the exchange raised questions over how voters will react. The Democratic candidate said it's the state's fault for not pursuing manufacturing business like his own, recommending more aggressive tax incentives. As he cast it, McAuliffe's own company is a case study in Virginia's economic policy.
McAuliffe's firm, GreenTech opened a plant in Horn Lake, Miss., in July and plans to open another in Tunica, Miss., next year to build electric cars, after purchasing Hong-Kong-based EuAuto Technology (and the MyCar low-speed, electric car it manufactured) in 2010.
Now, running for governor of Virginia as a "Virginia businessman fighting for Democratic causes and creating jobs," McAuliffe was asked why he didn't open those plants in Virginia, reported NBC12 in Richmond, Va. His answer: The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) wasn't interested in offering incentives.
"Well, we wanted to. I mean, it was their decision," McAuliffe said of VEDP. "They decided they didn't want to bid on it. That's their choice. Other states - I think Alabama, South Carolina, Mississippi - have a very aggressive [incentive program] to bring manufacturing in.
"Obviously, Virginia was my first choice," McAuliffe said. "We had sites, we had meetings, and they chose that they weren't going to bid on it. I have to go where, obviously, they're gonna put incentives. … Not the big three car companies, but all the others in the world, they've gone to all of our southern neighbors."
VEDP said that's not the case.
"We did not receive enough information to respond to GreenTech's business proposal that was received in 2009," VEDP Communications Manager Suzane West told NBC12 reporter Ryan Nobles.
VEDP declined to elaborate on any specifics to ABC News.
A McAuliffe aide said that during a meeting, VEDP officials made it clear they were not interested in GreenTech putting its facility in Virginia and that they believed the project was impossible. The executives were surprised by VEDP's lack of interest, given extensive planning GreenTech had done, the aide said.
"Unfortunately, the VEDP made clear that they were not interested in pursuing this economic development project," McAuliffe campaign spokesman Brennan Bilberry told ABC News, when asked for comment. "The main reason Terry is running for governor is to make it easier for companies to create jobs right here in Virginia and he has the business background to make it happen. Terry knows an important part of ensuring Virginia's economic prosperity is to attract the growing and innovative companies of the 21st century."