Why Are All Eyes on the Virginia Governor’s Race?

[ad_1]

michael barbaro

From The New York Times, I’m Michael Barbaro. This is The Daily.

{music]

Today: The upcoming election of Virginia’s next governor has attracted the attention of everyone from Donald Trump to Barack Obama. I spoke with my colleague, Lisa Lerer, about why both parties are so invested in the outcome and what the race is already revealing about the state of American politics in the Biden era.

It’s Monday, October 18.

Lisa, why is the governor’s race in Virginia, which is a state race, not a federal election, why is it being so closely watched, and why does it matter to national political reporters like you?

lisa lerer

Well, Michael, this is really the first competitive election we’ve had since Biden won office. And it’s also the first race we’re seeing without Trump on the ballot or in the White House. So we’re really getting a glimpse of political dynamics that we just haven’t tested before of how people are perceiving this moment and how voters are feeling about it.

michael barbaro

And what should we know about the politics of Virginia itself?

lisa lerer

So Virginia is an interesting state. It’s traditionally been a red state, but that began to change, really during the Obama years. And now, particularly during Trump’s time in office, it’s become a place that Democrats feel a lot more confident about. It really epitomizes the way that Democrats won during the Trump administration, which was by turning these suburban counties that had been maybe more moderate or more swing counties, turning them much more Democratic. And of course, in 2020, Biden won the state by 10 points.

But there is this sense that Virginia is a place that’s heavily influenced by the national political environment, in part because it’s next to Washington, D.C., and then that gives Republicans a chance to possibly mount a comeback in the Commonwealth — that if Republicans could win in Virginia, and it could be a harbinger of them doing much better in the midterm elections and even the 2024 presidential.

michael barbaro

Hmm. So the question in this race, or a question in this race is: Is this a favorable moment for Republicans nationally, or is it still the case, coming out of Biden’s 10-point victory a year ago, that this is a favorable moment for Democrats?

lisa lerer

That’s exactly right. During Trump, the national environment was very unfavorable for Republicans. As we saw, Democrats took control of the White House in Congress. And now there’s a sense that that could be changing. Biden’s approval ratings are not what they were when he entered office. He’s doing much worse, particularly with independents, and Republicans see a real opportunity. They’re looking at the environment around them, and they’re seeing that people are facing all these challenges in their daily lives.

There’s been an uptick in crime. There’s a rise in inflation. So people’s prices for gas, for cars, for milk, for groceries are higher. There’s a supply chain shortage. There’s concerns about how everyone is going to get their Christmas presents, things like that. And Republicans see those as issues that they can capitalize on to really make a comeback in the midterms.

michael barbaro

Hmm, OK, so that is the national backdrop for this state governor’s race that everyone’s watching so closely. So tell us about the candidates in that race.

lisa lerer

So Terry McAuliffe is the Democratic candidate who’s running.

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

When you’re elected governor, you’re not elected a Democratic governor or a Republican governor. You’re elected governor of the entire state.

lisa lerer

He’s a former governor of Virginia. Virginia has this quirky law where you can’t run for two consecutive terms. So he’s back for a second term out of being out of office for four years.

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

And the second I took that oath of office, I got out of bed trying to help everybody.

lisa lerer

He is a longtime party stalwart. He’s someone who’s close friends with the Clintons. He was a very, very prominent party fundraiser for many, many years. So he’s someone that has long relationships in the Democratic Party.

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

Who is it that’s going to raise teacher pay? Who is it that’s going to get broadband access? Who’s going to fight like hell to make sure they got a good high paying quality job?

lisa lerer

And he’s someone that’s really proudly running as a Biden Democrat.

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

My politics are about helping people, lifting everybody up.

lisa lerer

But he also has admitted, in various ways, that perhaps the president and the new administration hasn’t been all that great for him politically.

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

Well, we got to get Democrats out to vote.

lisa lerer

He came under a lot of fire from Democrats for saying —

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

We are facing a lot of headwinds from Washington. As you know, the president is unpopular today, unfortunately, here in Virginia, so we have got to plow through.

lisa lerer

— that his campaign was facing a lot of headwinds from Washington and saying that the president is unpopular.

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

We’re tired of the chitty chat up in Washington.

lisa lerer

He’s also really been very, very vocal about the need for Congress to get pass the infrastructure bill.

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

I’m traveling all over Virginia. They’re worried about minimum wage. They want child care. They want elderly care. They want to see paid sick leave, family medical leave.

lisa lerer

And that that is something that would really help his campaign if they could get those things done before his election.

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

And the frustration is, why isn’t it done by now? 69 votes in the Senate two months ago. Get it done this week. Do your job.

michael barbaro

So, although McAuliffe seems to be acknowledging there are problems with being a close ally of Joe Biden, he’s still betting that there’s a fair bit of goodwill among Virginia voters for the president and for the Democratic Party. And his message is give this party, give this president, give me a chance. We’re on the right track.

lisa lerer

Right, what’s interesting is he’s not running away from Biden. He’s still embracing the mantle of being a Biden Democrat. He’s just kind of saying that he would like to see them get a bit more done in Washington. And really, what he’s focusing on is trying to keep Donald Trump as a figure and play in this election.

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

My opponent, my opponent, Glenn Youngkin, well, he’s not running for you. He’s running for Donald Trump.

lisa lerer

Most of his attacks focus on Donald Trump.

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

Let’s start at the beginning of Glenn’s campaign. He launched his campaign on an election integrity plan that was based on Donald Trump’s conspiracy theory about the 2020 election.

lisa lerer

— warning that should Republicans win, that they would bring the state back to Trump-like policies, to some form of Trumpism.

archived recording (terry mcauliffe)

You got to ask yourself, why is it that Glenn Youngkin and Donald Trump are so close? Because they share the same agenda. And you better believe that agenda is completely out of touch with Virginians.

lisa lerer

It’s an open question whether that is really going to resonate with voters who just aren’t seeing that much Donald Trump in their daily lives. But in part, that’s the only play he has. Without much of a Democratic agenda coming out of Washington, he really doesn’t have a lot to run on, other than the promise of what Biden could do.

michael barbaro

OK, so tell me more about McAuliffe’s Republican rival, Glenn Youngkin. Who is he?

archived recording (glenn youngkin)

I’m Glenn Youngkin. I’m not a politician.

lisa lerer

He’s a former private equity executive.

archived…

[ad_2]

Source link