The gubernatorial election is almost here, but the path to victory might not be there for Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe
BY JEFFREY CARBERRY STAFF WRITER
As the 2021 Virginia Gubernatorial Election winds to a close in the final two months of the campaign, one thing is certain: Glenn Youngkin is the candidate to watch.
If the Republican businessman from Great Falls is able to win the election against former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, it would be a testament to the national Republican Party’s ability to elect candidates in blue states during the Biden Administration.
Hoping to capitalize on social issues such as abortion, mask mandates and critical race theory, the Youngkin campaign hopes that their recent efforts to separate from former President Donald Trump will be enough to overcome the 5.2% average lead that McAuliffe holds over them.
While the Youngkin campaign has attempted to shield their connection to Trump since winning the Republican nomination in May, the former president still says Youngkin is the man who can ”truly Make Virginia Great Again.”
So Youngkin walks a ‘tightrope’ in convincing the moderate and largely suburban residents of Washington and Richmond to vote for him — something that would challenge the democratic stronghold seen in Virginia in recent years.
Youngkin’s campaign, however, also hopes the former president’s endorsement of him will entice Trump voters to go to polling places on Election Day this November. A victory by the Youngkin campaign could also help flip the Virginia State Legislature back to Republican control after two years of Democratic majorities in both chambers.
The gubernatorial election will also serve as a model for the upcoming 2022 midterms across the country. Right here in Virginia, the suburban vote this November could be either a warning sign or a bright spot for the Democratic Party. Virginia Democratic congresswomen, such as Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria, who both represent suburban districts, are just two examples of representatives who could be forced into retirement following the humiliation of a Republican defeat.
If Glenn Youngkin pulls off a victory, this could also result in alarm bells ringing inside the campaign headquarters of the Democratic Governors Association — which will be defending seats in Nevada, Kansas, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania next year while simultaneously hoping to pick up seats in Arizona, Maryland, Florida and Georgia.
Any real challenge by the Republican Party in Democratic states would suggest citizens of the state disapprove of how their traditional leaders handled the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.
A Youngkin victory could also stand to boost Republican morale after the loss of Trump and the Republican majority in the United States Senate in 2020, which could lead the party to success in the 2022 midterms.