Biden Impact? Decision Day In Tight Virginia Governor’s Race

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The nation’s most carefully watched off-year election wrapped up Tuesday in Virginia, the place voters selected between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin in a marketing campaign that grew to become partly a referendum on President Joe Biden’s first 12 months in workplace.

Barely 12 months after Biden captured the state by 10 factors, the governor’s race was alleged to be a cushty win for Democrats. Instead, McAuliffe, a distinguished determine in Democratic politics and a former Virginia governor, was locked in a lifeless warmth with former enterprise govt Youngkin as he tried to reclaim the put up.

The bruising marketing campaign centered on points together with Youngkin’s ties to former President Donald Trump, the way forward for abortion rights and tradition conflict battles over faculties. But voters noticed the financial system as the highest challenge, adopted by the coronavirus pandemic, in response to AP VoteCast, a survey of statewide voters.

Some 34% of Virginia voters ranked the financial system as their No. 1 precedence, in comparison with 17% saying COVID-19 and 14% selecting training. Those points outranked well being care, local weather change, racism and abortion within the survey.

The closing outcomes, although, could in the end be interpreted as an early judgment of Biden. The closeness of the race indicated simply how a lot his political fortunes have modified in a brief interval. The White House has been shaken in current months by the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, a generally sluggish financial restoration amid the pandemic and a legislative agenda liable to stalling on Capitol Hill.

A loss in a state that has trended towards Democrats for greater than a decade would deepen the sense of alarm contained in the social gathering heading into subsequent 12 months’s midterm elections, when management of Congress is at stake.

“I think we’re going to win in Virginia,” Biden mentioned at a information convention in Scotland, the place he was attending a global local weather summit. But he additionally acknowledged that the race was very shut and “the off-year is always unpredictable.”

Tuesday’s voting additionally featured a governor’s race in New Jersey, mayoral places of work across the nation and a serious policing query in Minneapolis — and Biden downplayed his affect in Virginia or anyplace else.

“I don’t believe — and I’ve not seen any evidence that — whether or not I am doing well or poorly, whether or not I’ve got my agenda passed or not, is gonna have any real impact on winning or losing,” the president mentioned.

Still, each Virginia candidates mentioned the implications of the primary main election since Biden moved into the White House could be felt nicely past their state.

At considered one of his closing occasions of the marketing campaign on Monday, McAuliffe insisted “the stakes are huge.” Youngkin mentioned the election would ship a “statement that will be heard across this country.”

Voting proceeded largely with out incident throughout Virginia. McAuliffe and Youngkin had been largely out of sight forward of election night time events deliberate within the vital northern Virginia suburbs that every marketing campaign was relying on.

In Norfolk, 29-year-old Cassandra Ogren mentioned she voted for McAuliffe partly due to his help for abortion rights and her concern about restrictions lately enacted in Texas, the place a brand new legislation largely bans the process. But she was additionally motivated by Younkin’s ties to Trump.

“Anyone endorsed by President Trump is not someone I want representing me,” Ogren mentioned.

School points being vital to many citizens, in the meantime, could possibly be excellent news for Youngkin. His pledge to make sure dad and mom have higher say in what their children are taught was a centerpiece of his marketing campaign — presumably foreshadowing comparable arguments GOP candidates will use throughout the nation subsequent 12 months.

Youngkin has decried college efforts to show about institutional racism in society. That push intensified after McAuliffe mentioned throughout a debate that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Bennett White, 24, a Youngkin voter in Norfolk, mentioned he didn’t need “our next generation of leaders to be looking at their peers in the lens of race.”

“I just want to make sure that my mom is safe in the classroom,” mentioned White whose mom is a trainer, “and that her ideals and everyone’s ideals are protected, and we’re not turning into brainwashing academies.”

Elsewhere on Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was attempting to win reelection towards Republican former State Assembly member Jack Ciattarelli. If profitable, Murphy could be the primary Democrat reelected because the state’s governor in 44 years.

A poll query in Minneapolis might reshape policing in that metropolis, the place the killing of George Floyd final 12 months touched off sweeping demonstrations for racial justice throughout the nation.

But no different race obtained the extent of consideration of the Virginia’s governor’s marketing campaign. That’s partly as a result of earlier contests in lots of states have generally foreshadowed voter frustration with a celebration newly in energy.

In 2009, throughout President Barack Obama’s first 12 months in workplace, Republican Bob McDonnell’s victory in Virginia previewed a disastrous midterm cycle for Democrats, who misplaced greater than 60 House seats the next 12 months.

But McAuliffe gained the governorship in 2013, a 12 months after Obama was reelected, marking the one time the state has picked a governor from the sitting president’s social gathering since 1976. He’s attempting to repeat that feat on Tuesday.

Associated Press writers Ben Finley in Norfolk, Virginia, Hank Kurz in Richmond, Virginia, and Jill Colvin in New York contributed to this report.