Virginia gubernatorial election between McAuliffe and Youngkin: NPR

Virginia gubernatorial election between McAuliffe and Youngkin: NPR


Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin and former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Anna money maker; Win McNamee / Getty Images


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Anna money maker; Win McNamee / Getty Images


Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin and former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Anna money maker; Win McNamee / Getty Images

Tuesday is the last day for Virginians to cast a vote in the tight governor race between former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe and first-time Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin.

Virginia’s off-year elections are often viewed as a proxy for national political sentiment. This year’s race has the interest of political observers across the country, who say it could tell us what the environment might be for both parties in the 2022 midterm elections. More than 1.1 million Virginians have cast early votes under the expanded voting rules demanded by the Democrats in the state legislature.

It’s a challenging place for Republicans, who lost control of the legislature and three congressional seats during President Donald Trump’s tenure. The Democrats have held the governor’s mansion in the state for eight years. They control both houses of the state legislature, the two seats of the US Senate, and the majority of the state’s congressional delegation.

However, recent polls show an extremely close race in a state where President Biden won with 10 points. Youngkin – a staunch first-time candidate and wealthy former private equity CEO – has attracted large crowds who cheer the loudest for his calls to ban “critical racial theory,” which is not taught in Virginia’s K-12 schools.

“We’re not going to teach our kids to see everything through the lens of the race,” Youngkin said to cheer at a rally outside Richmond on Monday.

McAuliffe has attempted to portray Youngkin as an extremist who uses “racist dog whistles” to rally voters in a manner reminiscent of Trump, who repeatedly supported Youngkin.

McAuliffe called Youngkin “Donald Trump in khakis or sweater vests” at his own rally in a Richmond brewery on Monday. “He uses your children as pawns in his campaign.”

Trump’s GOP and Youngkin

Youngkin’s rise came with a sharp drop in Biden’s approval, which has fallen to the lowest point in his presidency.

Despite Biden’s ratings, McAuliffe campaigned alongside the president. Youngkin, on the other hand, has publicly tried to keep his distance from Trump. He did not take part in a “tele-rally” that Trump organized for him on Monday evening.

And Youngkin was also a no-show at a so-called “Take Back Virginia” rally last month in the suburbs of Richmond – a kind of reunion for Trump believers. Former Presidential Advisor Steve Bannon hosted the event, and Conservative political commentator Martha Boneta led the crowd in the pledge of allegiance with a flag carried during the January 6th riot in the U.S. Capitol.

When Trump called, he slapped McAuliffe, reiterating false allegations of electoral fraud, and praising Youngkin, who later described the pledge of allegiance as “strange and false.”

The day before the Virginia gubernatorial election, Glenn Youngkin supporters gather at an airplane hangar in Chesterfield County to show their enthusiasm for the Republican candidate.

Crixell Matthews / VPM


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The day before the Virginia gubernatorial election, Glenn Youngkin supporters gather at an airplane hangar in Chesterfield County to show their enthusiasm for the Republican candidate.

Crixell Matthews / VPM

Youngkin hugged Trump at the start of his campaign before deciding to win over more moderate voters. Youngkin has also fought alongside some of his supporters such as Republican Senator Amanda Chase, who regularly repeated misinformation about the last election and made similar unsubstantiated claims in the race.

Youngkin wears his signature fleece vest and cowboy boots and continues to nod to the MAGA believers, even if he does not mention the former president by name. He called for audits of voting machines, which Virginia is already doing, and struggled alongside the 2020 pollsters.

Democrats say Youngkin only adds suburban patriotism to Trump’s policies. “Extremism can take many forms,” ​​Biden said at a rally for McAuliffe last week. “It can be the anger of a mob driven to attack the Capitol.

McAuliffe hammered the message that one vote for Youngkin is one vote for Trump. Youngkin dismissed the idea, saying, “If you look at the ballot today, it says ‘Glenn Youngkin’ and ‘Terry McAuliffe’.” (A third candidate, activist Princess Blanding, is also on the ballot.)

Youngkin has ambitious plans for a first day in office, including banning the teaching of “critical racial theory,” dismissing Virginia’s parole board, abolishing a number of taxes and increasing teachers’ salaries. Most of these plans, however, require the approval of state legislatures, including a state senate, which will remain in the hands of the Democrats regardless of the outcome of Tuesday’s elections.

Democrats have everything to lose

Much is at stake for the Democrats. The party has not lost any statewide Commonwealth elections since 2009. McAuliffe says he always knew it was going to run out.

“I remind you that for 44 years, the party that wins the White House wins the governor’s villa,” McAuliffe said in an interview. “I’m the only one breaking it.”

Supporters of former governor Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat in the Virginia gubernatorial election, gather Monday. November 1, on the eve of the election, at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Virginia.

Crixell Matthews / VPM


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Supporters of former governor Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat in the Virginia gubernatorial election, gather Monday. November 1, on the eve of the election, at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond, Virginia.

Crixell Matthews / VPM

McAuliffe was also a wealthy businessman and a first-time politician when he won the governor’s race in 2013 after a failed attempt in 2009 to make a donation to President Jimmy Carter’s 1980 re-election campaign.

This time he’s running on his record, promoting the experiences voters want to see in a pandemic: “I was governor before, got us out of a terrible financial mess, created a record 200,000 new jobs, and opened the state up and warmly welcome, ”he says.

McAuliffe has also vowed to build on the myriad of laws the Democrats passed during their two years in power by speeding up the schedule for a minimum wage increase, accelerating a clean energy push, and introducing a mandatory paid sick leave. To achieve these goals, Democrats must maintain their majority in Virginia’s lower legislative chamber, which is also on the ballot.

“Drive out that voice”

In such a close race, participation is what counts. Odd year elections in Virginia are tough on voters, however. In the last gubernatorial race in 2017, the turnout was 47.6%. In 2020, a presidential election year, it was more than 75%.

“Tomorrow we have to show up and take it. We won’t get it, but we have to take it,” Youngkin said at a rally on the eve of the election. “This race is neck and neck.”

However, with an expanded vote this year, the turnout could be much higher. By Monday morning, more than 1.1 million voters had cast their votes. In 2017 there were fewer than 190,000.

“You have to evict this vote tomorrow,” said McAuliffe on Monday. “I had a big lead on the early set-up, but I have to have a big lead personally tomorrow that day. Do you want to deliver that to me? “

With Trump out of office, Democrats worry that their party’s members won’t actually vote. Democratic voter Kelly Hebron told Weekend Edition on Sunday that she had heard about it.

“Some people say, ‘Oh, I’m not even going to vote.’ And we don’t want to hear that, because whether you are happy with a party or not, we have to work with that, “she said. “And I think too many people don’t feel like they have a voice and I think that’s why this race is close.”

And there is electoral fatigue, especially since the 2020 elections still seem to be with us. Holly Young, who voted early in Richmond, says she worries about this.

“I don’t love the Democratic candidate, but I felt we really have to vote. It’s very important.”

Young says she noticed a shortage of McAuliffe signs across the state. That bothers them. She says Republicans were often in power in Virginia, so this is not the time for Democrats to take recent victories for granted.

Ben Pavior is a state political reporter for the VPM and Jahd Khalil is a reporter at WVTF in Richmond.



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Rachel Meadows

Rachel Meadows

Trending topics news writer who enjoys cooking, walking her dog and travel.

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