CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. — The campaign headquarters for Democrat Dan Gecker were livelier than usual on Sunday night as his staffers and supporters gathered to cheer him on after a long day of canvassing at churches and Virginia neighborhoods with Gov.Terry McAuliffe and Sen. Mark Warner.
The election on Tuesday boils down to one issue for Democratic leaders: Medicaid expansion. If Gecker wins the 10th district, it will give Democrats equal footing in the state senate. No surprise, McAuliffe and Warner push hard for Gecker as he could be the vote they need to pass Medicaid expansion.
“With Dan Gecker in the senate, we’re going to get Medicaid expansion,” McAuliffe told the crowd of volunteers at Gecker’s headquarters. The party leaders campaigned all over the state on Sunday in support of Democratic candidates in Roanoke, Norfolk, Northern Virginia and Manassas.
“I remember doing this rally last year when we thought we were going to glide through,” Warner said in Norfolk, according to The Virginian-Pilot. “And that race turned out a lot closer.”
The state’s Democratic party is putting a lot of effort into campaigning in the 10th district race and donations have been flowing into Gecker’s campaign chest. In the past month he has surpassed all the other candidate’s fundraising.
Glen Sturtevant, his Republican opponent, is second in money raised, but is almost $1 million behind Gecker.
McAuliffe’s committee for political donations, Common Good VA, has donated hundreds of thousands, with $180,000 coming in at the end of last month. University of Virginia’s “Sabato’s Crystal Ball” estimates this has been the most expensive race of this election cycle in Virginia and points out this district has been close in past elections.
“Voters in SD-10 backed Warner 49%-47% in 2014 and went 50%-49% for President Obama in 2012,” the Crystal Ball website said. “It’s currently the only seat won by both Obama and Warner that Republicans hold in the Senate.”
When it was Gecker’s turn to address the crowd at the campaign event, he promised to address many of the current divisive issues in the Commonwealth.
“If there is a fair representation of this district at the polls on Tuesday, we will be victorious Tuesday night,” Gecker said. “Why are we doing this? We are doing this for health care. We’re doing it for the working people of Virginia. We’re doing it for the environment. For economic opportunity. We’re doing it for equality. We know it’s time to talk about gun violence in this country.”
Republican candidate Glen Sturtevant’s opponent is campaigning on a platform that opposes Medicaid expansion.
“The federal tax increases and healthcare mandates imposed by Obamacare are killing jobs and our economy,” said Sturtevant on his campaign website. Over the weekend, Sturtevant received the endorsement of Sen. John Watkins, who retired from the 10th district seat.
“I’m so proud to support Glen Sturtevant in this campaign,” Watkins said in a press release. “Glen cares about the people of the 10th district, and he is committed to bringing people together to get results and make life better for all of us.”
Sturtevant and Gecker went head-to-head in a debate last month in which they voiced differences on minimum wage and oil drilling.
Sturtevant is opposed to increasing the minimum wage, because he fears it could have a negative impact on businesses, but Gecker argues it will help low income families without hurting business.
Offshore oil drilling also came up as an area of disagreement between the candidates with Sturtevant saying it will help business and bring jobs to the state’s shoreline and Gecker voicing environmental concerns.
Libertarian Carl Loser and Independent Marleen Durfee are also running in the 10th district race and promoting platforms that focus on changing the status quo in politics, including campaign finance.
This story was reported by the “iPadJournos” mobile and social media journalism project, a cooperation between WTVR.com and VCU’s Richard T. Robertson School of Media and Culture. Students from the project reported the following story.