politico – Virginia governor’s race is a battle of legacies: Trump and Terry

“Democrats are going to try to get Trump to talk,” said George Allen, the former Republican governor and senator. “But I don’t think that will be the problem with this campaign.”

These are the battle lines for Joe Biden’s first statewide competitive presidential election: Democrats eager to nationalize the race, with Trump still injecting himself into the nation’s political arena, while the Democrats are eager to nationalize the race. Republicans are trying to refocus the contest on state and local issues.

But McAuliffe’s return candidacy is also based on voters’ positive feelings about his tenure – he touted his accomplishments, as well as those of his Democratic successor, in his victory speech on Tuesday – as well as a bet that the Biden’s early popularity will propel Democrats here, a year after lifting Virginia by 10 points.

Meanwhile, Trump’s tenure in the White House has been a disaster for the Virginia GOP. Ralph Northam, the outgoing governor, crossed by Republican Ed Gillespie in the 2017 gubernatorial contest, in four years of top-down Democratic victories in the poll.

Conservatives argue this year will be different: With Trump out of the ballot and Republicans out of power in Richmond and Washington, they say voters are ready for a change. And the GOP is eager to prove that the Trump-era drag in the country’s suburbs – which has reduced the party’s prospects in states with Virginia’s demographic profile – is reversible. An internal Youngkin campaign poll, taken last week ahead of the Democratic primary and shared first with POLITICO, places him behind McAuliffe in the poll’s margin of error in a one-on-one clash, from 48% to 46%.

McAuliffe, however, did not back down from his previous tenure, as well as the four years of Northam’s administration. Camp McAuliffe’s first digital ad for the general election highlights his economic record while continuing to tie Trump to Youngkin.

“I think it is necessary for us to point out that Governor McAuliffe and Governor Northam, over the past eight years, have produced one of the most progressive terms of the government of Virginia that we have ever seen,” he said. Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, a McAuliffe campaign co-chair, said. “Don’t be surprised if we point out that, however, this election is about the future.”

The campaign is also betting that Biden’s popularity in the state will lift all Democratic boats.

“Having President Biden in the White House is an asset,” Stoney continued. “President Biden was the person who righted the ship, took the shots and worked on our recovery, investing in our infrastructure… and I think that’s a perfect record for racing in November.”

McAuliffe told CNN on Tuesday night he spoke to Biden shortly after being declared the winner, and that the president said he was “all the way” to help his campaign.

McAuliffe’s aides say his landslide victory in the primaries – garnering 62% of the vote in a five-man race – shows he can replicate the same coalition of voters that propelled Biden last year, while also trying to incite Trump to get more involved in the race. . McAuliffe said in an MSNBC interview Wednesday that he didn’t think Trump “had the guts” to come to the state and campaign for Youngkin.

After nervousness earlier on primary day over voter turnout, Democrats largely sighed with relief when all the ballots were counted. As of Tuesday evening, 488,000 votes were counted in the governor’s primary – down from the 2017 primary, but still representing nearly 90% of the turnout in a heated confrontation between Northam and the former more progressive representative Tom Perriello.

But some on the left are still concerned that political exhaustion could decrease turnout in November, making the race a tougher victory for McAuliffe.

“Virginia is a deeply blue state when Donald Trump is president,” said Ben Tribbett, a Virginia-based Democratic strategist. “I’m not sure we’re anything other than a purple state when it isn’t.”

Because of this uncertainty, Virginians from all walks of life expect the race to attract a historic sum of money, both because of the individual candidates and the fact that it is the most important election. competitive statewide this year. McAuliffe is widely known as a prodigious fundraiser, and Youngkin brings enormous personal wealth to the race, having already invested $ 12 million of his own money into his campaign.

“It will definitely be the most expensive gubernatorial race in Virginia history,” said state Republican Party Chairman Rich Anderson, adding that he expected many groups outsiders are also involved.

Democrats, meanwhile, are rallying behind the ticket of all establishments across the spectrum. Former State MP Jennifer Carroll Foy and State Senator Jennifer McClellan, who gathered just over 30% of the vote on Tuesday, pledged to back McAuliffe’s general election candidacy in their post-election statements .

While McAuliffe has done education and recovery from the Covid-19 campaign issues, progressives are calling on him to go deeper into healthcare and organized labor laws in his platform. The Virginia State Legislature has already adopted a number of progressive policies since Democrats toppled State House in 2019, including the expansion of Medicaid and the passage of its own version of the law. voting rights to increase access to the ballot.

However, sustaining these policies will depend on maintaining Democratic control in Richmond. The battle for the state House of Delegates is expected to be intense following the overthrow of the chamber two years ago. One more wrinkle: The election is taking place on the lines of the map of the last decade, after the long delay in the release of redistribution data, opening up the possibility that there could be three consecutive years of legislative elections.

The gains Democrats have made in recent years are “hanging on Terry’s shoulders,” said Nick Rathod, a Virginia-based Democratic strategist.

“He will have to call back [progressive voters] of what is at stake.

Youngkin also tries to separate the progressives from McAuliffe. One of the two commercials he ran immediately after McAuliffe’s victory in the primary was one that featured Carroll Foy’s criticism of the former governor extensively throughout the primary, opening up to the former delegate saying McAuliffe was “uninspiring” and had failed the state.

Carroll Foy also warned that Democrats need more than an anti-Trump message to win the state. “I think it’s fair, because Trump backed Glenn Youngkin,” she said Tuesday in an interview at a polling station in Northern Virginia, before the ballots were counted. “But I think directing with this story is wrong. … Attack tactics alone will not be enough. We need to let people know what our positive outlook is for Virginia. “

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