Thomas Gallatin / September 20, 2021

No Love Lost in Virginia Gubernatorial Race

Former Democrat Governor Terry McAuliffe aims to thwart GOP challenger Glenn Youngkin’s plans.

Virginia is one of those few states that holds its gubernatorial election in off-years, of which 2021 happens to be. Furthermore, according to state law, no one holding the office of governor is allowed two consecutive terms, so current Governor Ralph “Blackface” Northam is out. However, the law does not preclude an individual who previously held the office from seeking to hold it again for a later term, which is exactly the case with Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe, who was governor prior to Northam.

Republicans have chosen former Carlyle Group CEO Glenn Youngkin. Unlike McAuliffe, Youngkin is not a career politician. That said, Youngkin has more than held his own, raising over $35 million to McAuliffe’s $33 million.

Recent polling has the two in a near dead heat, with McAuliffe holding a slight edge.

On the major issues, the two couldn’t be more different. McAuliffe favors COVID vaccine mandates as well as masking mandates for all school children irrespective of vaccine status. Youngkin is a vocal vaccine proponent but has steadfastly rejected any vax or mask mandates. In their recent debate, Youngkin deftly undercut any spurious claims that he was against vaccines by chiding McAuliffe for failing to join him in offering a public service announcement to encourage Virginians to get the COVID vaccine. McAuliffe blew it off as a mere political stunt.

The issue of taxes also provides a major departure point between the two. Youngkin favors eliminating the commonwealth’s 2.5% grocery tax as well as advocating a one-year suspension on the 12.6 cents per gallon tax on gas.

McAuliffe, like any big government Democrat, can’t seem to raise taxes high enough. He advocates for a “substantial tax” on drug companies and raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

A contentious issue that has become particularly heated in northern Virginia is Critical Race Theory in schools. Loudoun County has become the epicenter for outraged parents clashing with school boards over the issue. While avoiding offering any explicit support for CRT, McAuliffe’s advocacy for an “education equity commission” demonstrates that he favors the ideology. Meanwhile, Youngkin has called for banning CRT education from classrooms and expanding the number of charter schools in the state.

Republicans have not won a statewide office in Virginia since 2009. The once solidly red state has shifted blue with the rapid growth of the Washington, DC, suburbs of northern Virginia, coupled with a dwindling population across the more conservative rural parts of the state. But despite losing out in California last week, Republicans may actually have a real shot in Virginia.

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