21/10/2013 05:30 BST | Updated 20/12/2013 05:12 GMT

Hillary's Unfinished Challenge

This crisp Autumn weekend former secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton dipped her toes back into the icy political waters for the first time since 2008. This was her first big political speech.

And she was on friendly ground at a women's event for family friend Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe. It was an event defending women's rights.

Since she left office, HRC has been carefully picking and choosing her appearances. Her first ones were for causes near and dear to her heart like Vital Voices - an organization she co-founded to promote positive change for women and girls throughout the world and of course for The Clinton Global Initiative with husband Bill and daughter Chelsea.

Most of these appearances have been carefully orchestrated to highlight a particular issue or concern that Hillary has long championed and supported.

Hillary has also been on the award circuit picking up her well deserved share of the accolades won both for her work as secretary of state and for her lifetime of public service.

This week's foray into the political tempest that is the Virginia governor's race was a little riskier.

Hillary and Bill's old friend, former finance chair and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, mega fundraiser Terry McAuliffe, is making a second attempt to win the governorship of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Although McAuliffe is currently ahead of his rival, Virginia attorney general Republican Ken Cuccinelli, an arch conservative and Tea Party darling, this has been a brutal race for both candidates.

Their campaigns have tried time and time again to tar their opponent's image with countless scandals intended to put an end to their political career.

Of his many ultra conservative positions, Cuccinelli is probably best known for trying to severely restrict abortion and a women's right to contraception in Virginia.

McAuliffe's support of women's reproductive rights is perhaps the factor most responsible for his lead.

So, just a little help from the most influential woman in politics, Hillary Rodham Clinton, may just seal the deal and put Terry into the Governor's Mansion in Richmond.

Why has Hillary decided to wade into this somewhat nasty and hotly contested race when she could have easily stayed on the sidelines?

The rationale is easy to understand.

Virginia was a key battleground state in 2012. It is a former solidly "red" state that is trending "blue" for the Democrats.

In fact, Virginia was one of the key states in both Obama Presidential victories.

By helping her friend Terry secure this prize, Hillary will not only gain the support of a governor of a crucial state in 2016, she will also have an enthusiastic friend in high places when it comes to Virginia voting rules and someone in her corner to get the voters out to the polls.

In an off year election, one year out from the contentious mid-terms, one appearance by Hillary could make the difference in turning out women and other like-minded voters.

Ken Cuccinelli has called in his "big guns" from the Tea Party like Texas Republican senator Ted Cruz and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee to try to give him a boost - to no avail.

Although the official start to the 2016 presidential pace is a little over the years away, the groundwork is already underway as potential presidential candidates are lining up to lend their support to senators, congressmen and governors in key races this year and in the Mid Terms.

Campaigning and fundraising for the mid-terms has already begun.

So get ready, expect to see President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama along with "Bill and Hills" and Chelsea out on the stump supporting Democrats in all the key races in the battle ground states.

And don't be surprised if Presidential hopefuls such as senators Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Marco Rubio as well representative Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and others are stepping over each other in support of their Republican candidates.

Since the day she left her state department office in Foggy Bottom, speculation about whether Hillary would make another run for the presidency has not stopped.

Many believe that this is her destiny and it is her's for the taking. Her supporters, especially women, are counting on Hillary to take up the gauntlet on their behalf. However, it is truly up to Hillary alone to decide if she is willing to make the sacrifice necessary to compete once again and succeed at this unfinished challenge.

Jon-Christopher Bua's blogposts for Sky News appear here