December 03, 2021
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Youngkin, McAuliffe in last-minute scramble to rally voters | Federal News Network

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin were making last-minute pushes Sunday to energize voters across Virginia in the final days of the competitive and closely watched race for governor.

With the state’s lengthy early voting period finished, the campaigns turned their attention to Tuesday’s finale, each trying to fire up his party’s base to drive up turnout for an election that will be scrutinized as a bellwether ahead of next year’s midterms.

McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, and Democrats are scrambling to stave off disaster after public polling has shifted in Youngkin’s direction in recent weeks. Republicans are optimistic about their chances in the commonwealth, where they haven’t won a statewide race since 2009.

After campaigning across northern Virginia on Saturday, Youngkin departed for the far southwest corner of the state. Stops along his bus tour included a prayer breakfast, a worship service, a barbecue at the home of a powerful state lawmaker, a meet-and-greet in the state’s farthest-flung corner and an evening get-out-the-vote rally.

McAuliffe, who preceded Democrat Ralph Northam as governor in the only state that doesn’t allow its executive to serve consecutive terms, spent Saturday in Virginia’s southeastern corner before planning stops Sunday in suburban Richmond and northern Virginia.

In the backyard of a home in a well-to-do pocket of Henrico County, McAuliffe told an energetic crowd of supporters that “the stakes are huge” as he touted his record from his first term.

“I’ve done this job before. I was the most pro-business pro-progressive. I made this state open and welcoming, created a lot of jobs. We do not want to go back,” he said.

McAuliffe has brought in a series of high-profile surrogates including President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama and celebrity musicians Pharrell Williams and Dave Matthews in the final stretch. Youngkin, meanwhile, has eschewed virtually all public campaign visits from well-known party allies who would typically flock to a hot race.

That includes former President Donald Trump, who is holding a telerally for Youngkin on Monday. Youngkin has said he will not be participating. Youngkin more fully embraced Trump during the Republican nominating contest, but since becoming the nominee, he has walked a fine line as he tries to court moderate voters in a state that Trump lost by 10 percentage points to Biden in 2020.

Saturday marked the final day for early voting, which has been dramatically expanded during the past two years of unified Democratic control of state government.

Legislation passed in 2020 eliminated excuses that were previously required in order for a person to cast a vote by absentee ballot. Now any qualified voter can cast a ballot starting 45 days before the election.

Over 1.1 million Virginians out of the state’s approximately 5.8 million registered voters cast a ballot early this year, according to state data published by the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project. That marks a dramatic increase compared with the mere 195,634 early votes the last gubernatorial cycle.

Saturday saw the highest single-day total, with over 100,000 votes cast.

Republicans, despite generally opposing the Democrats’ election reforms, have encouraged their supporters to vote early this year.

The hectic pace of campaigning was set to continue Monday. Both candidates will be crisscrossing the state, each with stops in Roanoke, Virginia Beach, the Richmond area and northern Virginia.

Polls will be open Tuesday from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

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