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by Brandon Jarvis

Virginia’s gubernatorial candidates spent the weekend campaigning across Virginia with less than 44 days until election day. Both candidates stopped in Central Virginia, with Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin holding a rally in Chesterfield and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe speaking at several canvass launches in the area. 

The candidates are working for every last vote in the final weeks of the election with early voting already taking place. The polls are showing a tight race with McAuliffe holding a slight lead over Youngkin. The candidates are working to sure up their base while not alienating the middle. Big names on both sides are coming out in support to help them with that.  

“I love it, I love being out with folks. This is a turnout election,” McAuliffe said Saturday during an interview with Virginia Scope at a canvass launch in Henrico. 

McAuliffe continued to strike the same tone throughout the speech to his supporters about Youngkin that his campaign has been displaying for months – referring to Youngkin as wanting to ban anti-abortion, homophobic, and a Trump-acolyte. 

“People need to know he is so extreme. He is trying to hide behind his television ads,” McAuliffe said to Virginia Scope. “We worked hard to stop all that nonsense and made Virginia an open and welcoming state and we are not going back. We are just going to keep talking about this until election day.”

In addition to McAuliffe, Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (VA-07,) Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg, Del. Rodney Willett, and several other local elected officials from Henrico spoke about the importance of Democratic turnout this November.

McAuliffe also discussed the debate that took place last week, referring to Youngkin as an extreme Republican several times. “He got exposed for what he is. He is an extreme right-winger.” 

Youngkin brought part of this onto himself when he believed he was speaking privately to someone at an event earlier this summer.

He was actually being filmed in a secret video during that conversation saying he cannot campaign on his abortion views because he would lose Independent voters in Virginia. Youngkin has since said that he would not sign a ban on abortion at the time a heartbeat is present like the recent law that went into effect in Texas. He stated during the debate that he would support a ban on abortions at the time a fetus feels pain — often considered close to the 20-week mark in pregnancy. 

Youngkin’s campaign said in a statement to Virginia Scope Saturday that the recent comments from McAuliffe are lies. “Glenn Youngkin decisively won the debate, reaffirming for Virginians that he is the only candidate with the experience, vision, and integrity to lead Virginia,” said Youngkin spokeswoman, Macaulay Porter. “Unfortunately, McAuliffe continued to lie and hide his positions on right to work, defunding the police, and abortion.” 

Youngkin has called McAuliffe extreme as well — specifically on issues like qualified immunity, Right to Work laws, and abortion. He has accused McAuliffe of supporting abortion up until birth, though McAuliffe has said he agrees with the laws that are on the books and that he would support reducing the number of doctors needed to sign off on a late-term abortion if it is certified that the mother’s life is in danger. His reasoning behind that stance is reducing the number from three doctors to one would benefit parts of rural Virginia where they only have one doctor present. He says he would be a “brick wall” against Republican attempts to restrict abortion rights.

McAuliffe has, however, recently changed his position on qualified immunity for police officers after taking a stance through a spokesperson during the Democratic primary that made it appear that he would support removing the protection from lawsuits for police officers. McAuliffe stated during the debate Thursday that he would not support the repeal, possibly angering progressives, but likely making him more appealing to moderate voters. He also did not take a stance during the debate on repealing Right to Work laws in Virginia after indicating during the primary earlier this year that he would be open to removing the laws that prevent unions from effectively organizing. 

Youngkin, on the other hand, is working to remain attractive to moderate voters without turning off his party’s core base. A powerful voice within the conservative faction of the Republican Party of Virginia gave a strong plea over the weekend for her supporters to vote for Youngkin.

Amanda Chase and Glenn Youngkin embrace at GOP event in Chesterfield 9/17/21. Credit: Brandon Jarvis

At his campaign event in Chesterfield Friday night, Youngkin was introduced by state Senator Amanda Chase — a former opponent for the gubernatorial nomination and a firebrand Republican. After a recent Letter to the Editor that was published in the Martinsville Bulletin urging people to write in Chase for governor, the senator cleared the air giving her full support to Youngkin in a heartfelt speech Friday when introducing him. 

“I’ve publicly encouraged my supporters to vote Youngkin for governor so we don’t split the vote and ultimately hand the governorship back to the Democrats,” Chase said in a statement to Virginia Scope. 

Chase represents the core-Republican base — a voter block that has kept Youngkin walking a tightrope by trying to stop him from moving the middle — a likely-necessary tactic that he will need to do successfully in a commonwealth that has not elected a Republican statewide since 2009. 

Youngkin was considered by many to be the most moderate candidate seeking the Republican nomination earlier this year. Chase, on the other hand, has pushed hard for an audit of the 2020 presidential election results in Virginia.

Youngkin has said he does not believe there was significant voter fraud in recent elections, but he did participate in a voter integrity event last month where his campaign said he spoke about the importance of voter id laws. 

In all, each candidate will likely tell you that their opponent is the most extreme member of their party — when in reality, both candidates are trying hard to appeal to the middle-of-the-road voters. 

With polls showing McAullife leading by as little as 3%, it is starting to look like the votes on the margin might be incredibly important for each candidate. 

Additionally, there is a third-party candidate on the ballot in Princess Blanding. The impact of her name on the race is unknown, however, with the Liberation Party candidate raising less than $1,300 during the last fundraising period.

Early absentee voting has already begun for the Nov 2. election.

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By vascope