STAFFORD, Va. — While two weeks remain until polls close in the 2021 race for Governor of Virginia, the two major-party candidates, Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, have already combined to bring in $88 million in total fundraising. That figure is more than any previous race in Virginia history.
Big money and national attention on one of two statewide elections this November are something both campaigns have embraced.
McAuliffe, a former Virginia Governor, and Youngkin, a former global investment firm CEO, are sharpening their attacks on one another, an effort to drive members of their party to the polls.
Monday in Richmond, McAuliffe met with women’s reproduction health providers and advocates. Despite somewhat waning attention on new abortion restrictions in Texas, McAuliffe said a vote for him guarantees safe, lawful abortion access for Virginia women. A climate, McAuliffe said, is welcoming to big business and jobs.
“Women, everybody needs to understand how important this issue is. It is dangerous for women if we are to outlaw abortions,” McAulife said. “Glenn Youngkin is against a women’s right to choose, he’s against gay marriage. He’ll put a wall up in this state.”
The McAuliffe campaign is bringing in several big-name political figures in the final weeks. Vice President Kamala Harris will campaign in Prince William on Thursday, former President Barrack Obama will be in Richmond on Saturday, and McAuliffe said President Biden will visit Virginia again before Election Day.
“People are fired up, and I predict we’re going to have the largest non-presidential turnout ever,” McAuliffe said.
Part of his campaign strategy has been to tie Youngkin to former President Donald Trump, who lost Virginia handily in 2020, and cast Youngkin’s views as extreme. Monday, McAuliffe cited a rally in Henrico last week that Youngkin did not attend but was cast as backing him in the race.
“[They] did a pledge of allegiance to a flag was used at the January 6th insurrection. I got to tell you, people were disgusted and disgraced by that,” McAuliffe said.
The next day, Youngkin called the moment “weird and wrong.”
In Stafford County on Tuesday, Youngkin rallied with around 100 supporters.
His speech focused mostly on a parent's rights in their child’s education, lowering taxes through eliminating the grocery and gas tax, and public safety.
“If you dare to disagree with Terry McAuliffe, he’s going to call his friend Joe Biden and have the FBI silence you,” Youngkin told his supporters.
In an interview following the rally, Youngkin said McAuliffe has a bad habit of twisting his positions.
“Everything he says about me is absolutely made up because he knows he can’t beat Glenn, so he makes up other candidates he wants to run against,” Youngkin said.
Messaging on what Youngkin described as degrading public education standards and cutting regulation for small businesses appeared to be key pillars of the campaign’s message in the closing weeks. Youngkin said he does not plan to stump with big-name figures ahead of Election Day because he does not have surrogates and speaks for his own campaign.
“I’m just stunned at how my opponent thinks national figures coming into Virginia is a good thing. This is about Virginia’s future. This is about our schools, our jobs, our cost of living,” Youngkin said.
Every election hinges on voter turnout, but the party that brings out their voters in force is particularly important in a Governor's race, when the percentage of voters taking part is historically much lower than in Presidential years. Both candidates, unsurprisingly, are claiming victory by doing the work to inspire voters to back them.
“I’ve traveled 100,000 miles since January. I’ve listened to tens of thousands of Virginians, from Republicans, Independents, and Democrats. Virginians from all walks of life. I’ve gone places Republican candidates and most Democrat candidates don’t go to listen,” Youngkin said.
“Last weekend, we knocked on 102,000 doors, historic. We had 770,000 voter contacts just last weekend. If you saw my fiance report come out, we had $45 million come into my campaign from over 100,000 donors. We have tremendous enthusiasm,” McAuliffe said.
Liberation Party candidate Princess Blanding is also on the ballot this November. Blanding has raised $30,222, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. You can read more about her campaign here.
The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is Friday, October 22. Local election offices will be open the next two Saturdays, October 23 and 30, for early voting. October 30 is the final day of early voting, ahead of Election Day, November 2.