June 24, 2021

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Terry McAuliffe wins Democratic gubernatorial primary in Virginia: What to know

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Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe won the state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday, with results showing a decisive win in a race he had been favored to win.

The Associated Press called the race for McAuliffe, a longtime Democratic Party stalwart, less than an hour after polls closed.

About ninety minutes after polls closed, McAuliffe led with about 62% of the vote, according to Politico. 

Nevertheless, Dave Wasserman, U.S. House editor of The Cook Political Report, observed that McAuliffe might have an “enthusiasm problem.

“Despite spending $10M and universal statewide name ID, not a lot of Dems cared enough to turn out,” he tweeted Tuesday.

He will face off against Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, whom former President Donald Trump has endorsed, in the November election.

Virginia has open primary elections, so voters of any party voted in both Republican and Democratic primaries.

As polling places opened Tuesday, there were already 114,616 ballots cast in early voting, which closed Friday, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

On the governor’s ballot, there were five Democrats vying for the spot in the November election: Virginia House Del. Lee J. Carter, Lt. Gov. of Virginia Justin Fairfax, former Virginia House Del. Jennifer D. Carroll Foy, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan and McAuliffe.

According to a Roanoke College Poll, he has a 73% favorable rating and 9% unfavorable rating among Democratic voters.

In the same poll, Fairfax received a favorable rating of 39% and an unfavorable rating of 22%. Carter, Carroll and McClellan didn’t receive ratings because most likely voters didn’t know enough about them to have opinions on them, according to the poll.

In April, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam endorsed McAuliffe, who served as Virginia’s governor from 2014-18.

McAuliffe has faced criticism that his bid for governor may be standing in the way of a historic win since three of the five candidates are Black and two are women.

McAuliffe also stirred up Twitter on Monday night after posting a video of him dancing, tweeting, “I heard folks wanted more dancing videos!”

Prior to serving as governor, McAuliffe was chairman of the Democratic National Committee for four years, the co-chairman of former President Bill Clinton’s re-election campaign and the chairman for 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.  

The race in Virginia has taken on heightened importance as Democrats aim to hold onto power after assuming full control of state government in 2020. Since then they have pushed through sweeping changes, from gun control to police reform to marijuana legalization to an increase in the minimum wage, transforming what was once a reliably red state into an outlier in the South.

Only Virginia and New Jersey have regularly scheduled governor’s races this year, with Virginia’s considered the more competitive of the two. The unusual off-year elections typically draw outsized attention as a possible bellwether for national trends heading into next year’s midterms.

Contributing: Associated Press

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