Expectations for Virginia’s gubernatorial race have stayed stable – multiple experts rate the race as Lean Democrat. Still, Terry McAuliffe’s campaign is fundraising off of a June 7 FiveThirtyEight article that argues the GOP has a chance.
“With FEC reports releasing this week, there’s a lot going on, but we had to reach out with this news. Analysts at Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight are saying that Virginia is ‘the GOP’s best shot at flipping a Governorship in 2021,'” a Monday McAuliffe email states. “We have been ringing the alarm on Glenn Youngkin’s chances and now, it’s clear election experts agree. The only way we can stop him is by building the biggest army of grassroots donors Virginia has ever seen – can you chip in right now to join us?”
The original article explains that New Jersey and Virginia are the only states electing governors in 2021. Virginia isn’t as Democratic-leaning as New Jersey, although both states voted for President Joe Biden by double digits. “Let’s start with Virginia, which likely represents the GOP’s best shot at flipping a governorship in 2021 despite the fact that Republicans haven’t won a statewide race there since 2009,” the article stated.
In addition to Virginia’s less-Democratic 2020 turnout, the GOP isn’t fighting an incumbent candidate in the Commonwealth, although McAuliffe is a former Virginia governor, FiveThirtyEight explained.
Virginia elections analyst Chaz Nuttycombe told The Virginia Star that expectations for the race have stayed stable.
“The chances of the GOP winning the Governor’s race hasn’t moved an inch since June. I still see the race as Leans Democratic, as does almost every other prognosticator. The race is competitive but Democrats are, and always have been, moderate favorites in the Governor’s race,” Nuttycombe said.
Trump Issues Another Statement Supporting Youngkin
Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is coming to Virginia to campaign with Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday.
Haley is considered a potential GOP 2024 presidential candidate. On July 8, the Youngkin campaign announced the Youngkin events featuring Haley. On July 9, the Associated Press reported that Haley had also endorsed the New Jersey GOP gubernatorial candidate Jack Ciattarelli, and Haley was expected to campaign with Ciattarelli on July 11.
On July 9, former President Donald Trump, who has hinted that he may run for president in 2024, issued a statement of support for Youngkin. The endorsement triggered speculation that Youngkin was trying to distance himself for the former president, and the McAuliffe campaign highlighted the comments.
On Monday morning, the Youngkin campaign responded to McAuliffe’s messaging with an ad suggesting that McAuliffe is actually close to Trump.
“It’s totally dishonest for Terry McAuliffe to use President Trump’s endorsement to smear Glenn Youngkin, when McAuliffe is actually friends with Trump and took thousands of dollars from Trump to fund his campaign,” Youngkin campaign spokesperson Matt Wolking said in a press release. “The only person that McAuliffe has kissed up to more is Bill Clinton, or maybe Hillary Clinton – which is no doubt where he learned to be so dishonest.”
On Monday afternoon, Trump issued another statement of support for Youngkin, suggesting that candidates who don’t embrace Trump risk losing the election.
“Four years ago, a man named Ed Gillespie ran for Governor of Virginia without ’embracing’ MAGA, or the America First movement. He tried to skirt the issue by wanting my endorsement, yet walking on both sides of the fence. The Trump base is very large in Virginia, they understood his game, and they didn’t come out for Gillespie, nor did I do anything to help or hurt,” Trump wrote. “Now a great candidate, Glenn Youngkin, is running against political hack and unpopular former Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe. Glenn has a very good chance of winning—but watch the ‘vote counters’ in Virginia.”
Washington Post Fact Checker Editor Glenn Kessler tweeted, “Trump seems to want to push Youngkin into becoming a Trumpkin. He doesn’t seem to realize that he’s radioactive in Virginia. This should be viewed as an in-kind contribution to McAuliffe, who’s been trying to tie Youngkin to Trump from the beginning.”
The Virginia Star’s Publisher John Fredericks explained, “The Youngkin campaign right now is dancing on the edge of a knife. On one hand, they absolutely have to motivate and inspire the Trump base to come out for them in huge numbers in November. On the other hand, they don’t want to alienate suburban women in major metro markets that were alienated by Trump’s personal idiosyncrasies.”
“I think the Youngkin campaign has deftly navigated their way through a needle thus far,” Fredericks said. “Their campaign consultant Jeff Roe is right now running the best campaign of his career, bar none.”
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