Democrat Terry McAuliffe will face Republican Glenn Youngkin in the Virginia gubernatorial election on November 2. Polls show McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, is neck and neck with Youngkin, former CEO of global investment firm The Carlyle Group.
Outgoing Governor Ralph Northam is not eligible to run because Article V of Virginia’s constitution prevents governors from serving consecutive terms. Virginia is the only state to ban sitting governors from running for immediate re-election and one of the few states to choose its governor in a slack year.
The Republican primary was held on May 8 through a choice vote – Youngkin was declared a Republican candidate later in the week after the party voted for the manual counting of the ballots, a process that takes more time than counting by machine or software.
Born and raised in Virginia, Youngkin worked for The Carlyle Group for 25 years. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Youngkin founded the Virginia Ready Initiative with the help of his wife, Suzanne Youngkin, which aims to help prepare unemployed Virginians to acquire in-demand jobs.
Youngkin’s platform focuses on lowering the cost of living for Virginians, reducing crime by fully funding law enforcement, and boosting job growth.
The Democratic convention elected McAuliffe on June 8 after securing 62.2% of the vote.
McAuliffe competed against four other candidates, including former State Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, State Senator Jennifer McClellan, current Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Delegate Lee Carter.
During his tenure as governor, McAuliffe worked to restore the right to vote to those previously incarcerated who were not eligible to vote even though their sentences were full. He was also a big contributor to reducing unemployment and pushed for the inclusion of Virginia in the American Climate Alliance.
This year’s major issues for the McAuliffe Platform include rebuilding Virginia’s economy in the aftermath of COVID-19 and ensuring quality education and health care for all Virginians.
While pundits predict the McAuliffe-Youngkin race will be a preview of the 2022 midterm election, Virginia’s gubernatorial race has gained national attention.
Although recent Gallup polls show that President Biden’s approval rating dropped through September to a low of 42%, the state of Virginia has not elected a Republican governor for more than a decade, when Republican candidate Bob McDonnell won in 2009.
With the weight and attention that this election holds, several student organizations have energized voters and defended their candidate. University Republicans and University Democrats have been at the forefront of these efforts.
Hunter Hess, a fourth-year college student and president of University Democrats, explained that UDems members mostly did phone banking and canvassing to help get the vote for McAuliffe.
“We have to make sure that we keep the House of Delegates, keep the Senate and also keep the governorship, because it’s really, really important to keep if we’re going to continue moving forward on these issues that matter to us,” said Hess said. noted.
Democrats have controlled the General Assembly for two years. Around that time, Democratic lawmakers passed reforms to make voting easier, passed the Clean Economy Act, presented a plan to raise the minimum wage to $ 15 by 2025, and outlawed the death penalty.
University Democrats have worked throughout the fall to register people to vote by running weekly voter registration campaigns. Early in-person voting began on October 17 and will run until October 30. The deadline to request a postal vote was October 22.
College Republicans have made similar efforts, including telephone banking and helping people apply for a mail-in ballot. Libby Klinger, a third-year college student and CR president, said the organization had also driven students to the polling stations.
“It’s one thing to just ask for the ballot, but it’s another to make sure the student fills it out and sends it home to be counted,” Klinger said. “In the fall, we’re really focusing on the campaign because you can’t have real change without having Republicans in power. “
Other CIOs are also thinking about ballot questions this year, including Hoos for Life and Planned Parenthood Generation Action at U.Va. Reproductive rights policies are expected to play an important role in this election, as some southern states have recently instituted strict abortion laws, including in Texas, where abortions will be limited to six weeks.
Although Hoos for Life does not endorse a particular candidate, Riley Jay, a sophomore at the College and a member of Hoos for Life, commented on the weight of this election.
“The previous administration [was] very pro-choice and relaxed restrictions on abortion a lot, ”Jay said. “We hope that with the next governor – whoever he is – we turn in the opposite direction.”
McAuliffe is committed to being a “brick wall” in the defense of reproductive rights. In a debate on September 16, McAuliffe indicated he would support relaxing the requirement that three doctors approve the procedure. Conversely, Youngkin describes himself as pro-life, but said in the same debate that he would not have signed Texas’ new law banning most abortions.
PPGA also worked to get the vote and endorsed McAuliffe.
Elliana McGovern, a third-year student in Batten and president of the PPGA, said the organization has participated in telephone banking and events such as the Women’s March.
“We are actually a subsidiary of Planned Parenthood, so all of their efforts to get the vote were taken on by our clubs,” said McGovern.
Both candidates visited college this fall to talk about their campaigns – McAuliffe spoke to students on August 25 regarding the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations and gubernatorial participation, while Youngkin attended a tailgate for Virginia’s soccer game against Wake Forest on September 24. .
Democratic candidate and delegate Hala Ayala and Winsome Sears, Republican candidate and former delegate, are running for lieutenant governor. Outgoing Democrat Mark Herring and Republican Jason Miyares are running for attorney general. In Charlottesville, Republican Philip Hamilton and outgoing Democrat Sally Hudson are running for a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates.
Polling stations can be found on the Virginia Department of Elections website or by contacting the area registrar general. Voting is usually located at a nearby school or recreation center. In addition, the Student Council undertakes to refund the first 200 Uber and Lyft trips taken by students to advance voting.