Candidate Profile: Terry McAuliffe (Governor)

Candidates

Terry McAuliffe is a Democratic candidate for Virginia Governor. His name will appear on the ballot on Nov. 2.


Name: Terry McAuliffe

Race: Governor

Party: Democratic

Website: terrymcauliffe.com

Biography: Terry McAuliffe is a lifelong entrepreneur and proud Democrat who served as the 72nd Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia from 2014 to 2018. As governor, Terry focused on making the Commonwealth welcoming and inclusive and building a 21st Century economy that created good jobs and expanded economic opportunity for all Virginians.

During his tenure, Terry brought 200,000 good paying jobs to the Commonwealth, drove unemployment down, and raised personal income over 13%. He invested in workforce development and infrastructure, laid the groundwork for Virginia to be a national leader in clean energy, and helped build a solid cyber ecosystem in the Commonwealth.

Time and again, Terry fought the Republican-led legislature. He successfully secured a record $1 billion investment in education and expanded preschool to thousands of Virginia children. As Virginia’s first lady, Terry’s wife Dorothy made ending childhood hunger in the Commonwealth a priority. Thanks to her tireless advocacy, Virginia made tremendous strides in addressing this critical issue and schools have served 13 million more meals per year.

As governor, Terry served as a brick-wall against extreme Republican attacks on women’s health care rights. He kept open every women’s health clinic in the Commonwealth and vetoed all anti-women’s rights legislation passed by the General Assembly, including a bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood in Virginia. In 2013, Terry campaigned proudly on his support for marriage equality, and he was the first southern governor to officiate a gay wedding.

One of his proudest accomplishments was successfully reversing a racist Jim Crow law that disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of Virginians. Thanks to his efforts, more than 200,000 Virginians have now had their voting rights restored and are able to participate in our democracy. In December 2017, Terry was named “Public Official of the Year” by GOVERNING magazine.

A tireless champion for progressive policies, Terry has dedicated his life to electing Democrats. He got his start with President Jimmy Carter’s campaign when he was just 23 years old, and later served as co-chair of President Bill Clinton’s 1996 campaign and chairman of the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign.

Terry has worked for the last 12 years to build the party infrastructure that led to flipping and keeping the Commonwealth blue. Since leaving office, he has continued to fight for progressive policies and campaigned for Democratic candidates across Virginia.

The youngest child from a middle class family, Terry started a business paving driveways for neighbors and local businesses at age 14. Since then, he has worked with and led dozens of businesses in diverse sectors of the economy helping to improve companies and create economic opportunity. Terry and Dorothy have been married for over 30 years and have five children. They live in McLean with their dogs Daisy and Trooper.

Why should Virginians re-elect you as Governor?

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every aspect of Virginians’ lives — from our economy and education, to housing, healthcare, and beyond. In order to truly recover, we must rebuild a stronger, more equitable Commonwealth that lifts up all Virginians, and that’s why I’m running for Governor.

As Virginia’s next Governor, I will create good jobs and invest in our workers, ensure all Virginians have access to quality affordable health care, address the affordable housing crisis and prevent evictions, continue to fight for civil rights and voting rights, and make an unprecedented investment to ensure every Virginia child receives equitable access to a world-class education.

I am building a broad and diverse coalition of support — including many members of the Virginia General Assembly and dozens of local and young leaders from every corner of the Commonwealth — and together we will make critical progress for Virginians.

Despite facing an extreme Republican legislature that wanted to take Virginia back, as Virginia’s 72nd Governor I made important progress for the Commonwealth on the economy and education, and I stood up for Virginians’ most basic civil rights at every turn. I secured a record $1 billion investment in education and expanded preschool to thousands of children, created 200,000 jobs and raised personal income 14%, and successfully stood up to every Republican attack on Virginians’ reproductive rights and LGBTQ+ equality. 

One of the proudest accomplishments of my life was reversing a racist Jim Crow era law and restoring voting rights to 173,000 Virginians previously convicted of felonies — more than any Governor in American history. But, we need to finish the job and overturn this racist policy once and for all by enshrining the automatic restoration of voting rights into Virginia’s Constitution. As Virginia’s next Governor, I will work with the legislature and voters to get this done during my first year in office. There is much work to be done, and I hope you will join our effort to move Virginia forward by visiting TerryMcAuliffe.com.

What do you hope to accomplish, if re-elected?

As Virginia’s next Governor, I will leverage this moment to go big and be bold as we rebuild Virginia from the COVID-19 pandemic stronger and more equitably than before. I will fight for our workers by accelerating Virginia’s minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2024, make sure all Virginians have access to paid sick days and paid family medical leave, and make child care more accessible and affordable. I will also work to create good jobs and rebuild Virginia’s thriving network of small businesses, particularly black and brown-owned businesses that have been hit the hardest by this pandemic. 

Investing in education will be one of my top priorities. I will work with our Democratic legislature to make an unprecedented $2 billion annual investment in education so that we can expand pre-school to every 3 and 4 year old child in need, get every Virginia student online, and raise teacher pay above the national average for the first time in Virginia’s history.

As Governor, I made significant progress in preparing our students for good paying jobs by making Virginia the first state in the nation to mandate computer science education for all K-12 students and developing innovative workforce development programs, like the New Economy Workforce Credentials Act and the Power Line Training School. Now, I will build on that progress and make Virginia the best state in the nation for STEM-H and computer science education and tackle the disparities that keep far too many young women and students of color from accessing careers in these high-paying, high-demand fields.

I will also work to address the critical teacher shortage Virginia is facing and invest to ensure that our educators reflect the diversity of our students. To do this, I will establish the Lucy Simms Educator Program, which will cover tuition at Virginia’s public or historically black colleges and universities for students who commit to five years of teaching in our public schools. The time is now to go big on education — our future and our children cannot wait. 

Health care is another critical issue that I will also work to address as Virginia’s next Governor. Despite Virginia successfully expanding Medicaid to more than 500,000 people, for which I fought tirelessly against a right-wing Republican legislature as Governor, more than 700,000 Virginians are still uninsured, including 100,000 children.

As Governor, I will work closely with President Joe Biden’s administration to lower premiums, as well as expand access to Medicaid and telehealth in the Commonwealth to make health care more affordable and accessible. I will create a new state watchdog and pass a Prescription Drug Sunlight Law to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the continued rising cost of prescription drugs, so that no Virginian is forced to choose between medicine and a meal. 

As Virginia’s 72nd Governor, I fought tirelessly to expand health care coverage across the Commonwealth. When Republicans refused to act on Medicaid expansion, I found other ways to expand dental care, mental health services, substance use disorder treatment, and other health services to tens of thousands of Virginians in need through my “A Healthy Virginia” plan. I embedded the $421.7 million estimated savings from Medicaid expansion into my final budget and secured the critical provider assessment on hospitals to help fund it, laying the groundwork for Gov. Ralph Northam and our Democratic legislature to successfully pass Medicaid expansion just a few years later. 

Much as with health care, Virginia is facing a housing crisis that has only gotten worse with the pandemic. As of the fall, more than 260,000 households were facing eviction in the Commonwealth. I will work to ensure every Virginian has a place to call home by providing relief and protections to tenants, creating much needed affordable housing, and confronting discriminatory lending practices and promoting black and brown homeownership.

As Governor, I fought for crucial investments into the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, leading to a 27% decrease of homelessness among families throughout my term, and I functionally ended veteran homelessness by ensuring every community has a sustainable, systematic response to prevent homelessness whenever possible and to allow veterans in need of housing to secure a home within 90 days. As Governor, I will continue to prioritize investment in Virginia’s Housing Trust Fund and continue the fight against homelessness going forward to ensure that every Virginia has a safe place to call home. 

I will also continue to work to reform Virginia’s criminal justice system so that it is rooted in equity and second chances, not punishment. In addition to securing the restoration of voting rights into Virginia’s Constitution, we must make sure that black and brown communities benefit equitably from the legalization of marijuana, continue to reform outdated expungement laws, expand access to parole, and create an Office for Returning Citizens to ensure the thousands of men and women returning home from correctional facilities each year have the support and resources they need to succeed.

As Virginia’s 72nd Governor, I fought tirelessly for Virginia’s civil rights and to reform our criminal justice system with a focus on second chances. I restored voting rights to over 173,000 Virginians, reversing decades of disenfranchisement due to Jim Crow-era law, and I pardoned 227 people, correcting wrongful and unjust sentences and reuniting families. I also transformed Virginia’s juvenile justice system and reduced the population of incarcerated youths by nearly two-thirds, and invested millions of dollars in reentry programs, alternatives to incarceration, and mental health and substance use disorder services. Under my leadership, in 2016 Virginia achieved the lowest recidivism rate in the nation for the first time at 23.4%.

What is the most important legislative issue facing Virginia, and what is your position on it?

I launched my campaign with a bold, comprehensive education plan, because I fundamentally believe it is the most important issue facing our next Governor. As Governor, I will make a $2 billion annual investment in education to give every Virginia child — no matter their race or their zip code — equitable access to a world-class education. Through this investment, I will get every Virginia student online, expand pre-school to every 3 and 4 year old child in need, and raise teacher pay above the national average for the first time in Virginia history. We are going to make Virginia the best state in the nation for STEM-H and computer science education, create new pathways for students to achieve good paying jobs without a four-year degree, and make sure every Virginia student is prepared for a brighter future and set up to succeed.

The COVID-19 pandemic has deepened the disparities and inequalities Virginia students face in education. But let’s be clear: These disparities were not created by the pandemic, they were only worsened by it. Despite being one of the wealthiest states in the nation, Virginia’s education system has been underfunded and plagued by racial, socioeconomic and geographic inequities for far too long. We have to break down the barriers and systemic racism that have allowed us to predict a student’s success based on their zip code or caused black and Latino students to fall behind at higher rates. These same inequities have kept too many young women and students of color from high-demand, high-paying careers, like STEM-H and computer science fields.

As Governor, I secured a record investment in education funding, expanded preschool to thousands of children, reimaged the high school experience and eliminated five SOLs, and created innovative workforce development programs to prepare students for the jobs of the future. Thanks to my efforts Virginia served more than 13 million more school meals. Through the biggest, boldest investment in education in Virginia history, I will ensure every Virginia child receives equitable access to a world-class education. In a generation, these investments will pay off in the form of a generational budget surplus for Virginia. 

What is your position on Virginia’s overall response to the coronavirus pandemic, and what might you have done differently?

Virginians have been fortunate to have a doctor in Gov. Ralph Northam leading our Commonwealth through this pandemic, especially given President Donald Trump’s failure to take this virus seriously or show any concern for American lives. I know we can all rest easier now that President Joe Biden has signed the American Rescue Plan into law and more help is on the way. But, our road to true recovery is long, and our next Governor must continue to build Virginia back better, stronger, and more equitable than it was before.

Virginia’s workforce is the backbone of our economy and in order to rebuild after this pandemic we have to make sure our workers have access to the support they need, including necessary compensation, benefits and affordable childcare. As Governor, I will fight to accelerate Virginia’s minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2024, make sure all workers have access to paid sick days and paid family medical leave, and make sure child care is more accessible and affordable. I will also work to ensure that all Virginians have access to quality, affordable healthcare and a safe and affordable place to call home, and I will make an unprecedented investment in education to ensure every Virginia child has equitable access to a world-class education and a brighter future.

What are the top three issues created by the coronavirus pandemic in Virginia, and how would you plan to address them?

Though this pandemic has created many challenges and Virginians are hurting, it has also shown our resilience and presented us with an opportunity to build back better. Three of the most important areas we need to focus on are rebuilding a stronger and more equitable post-COVID economy, investing in our education system, and making sure every Virginian has access to high-quality affordable health care. 

COVID-19 has laid bare some of the worst inequities in our economy and we’ve got to take big and bold action to make sure that all Virginians benefit from the post-COVID economy. We can’t risk an entire generation of workers, particularly women and women of color, being left behind. This means creating good jobs, protecting employees, making childcare more accessible and affordable, rebuilding our thriving network of small businesses, increasing funding for mental health services, and accelerating Virginia’s minimum wage increase to $15 an hour by 2024.

As Governor, I will create a revolving fund to provide low-interest loans to small businesses, revamp the regulatory process to ensure that small businesses have access to the support they need, and lift up black and brown-owned businesses by building upon the Small Women and Minority-Owned micro-loan program that I began as Virginia’s 72nd Governor.

The economic crisis created by this pandemic is only making the affordable housing crisis Virginia faces worse. As Governor, I will act boldly and decisively to make sure every Virginian has a place to call home, end racist and discriminatory lending practices, increase the supply of affordable housing, and tackle homelessness once and for all. 

As Governor, I will make an unprecedented $2 billion investment in our education system to make sure all Virginia kids have access to an equitable, world-class education. This investment means we will be able to increase teacher pay above the national average for the first time in Virginia history; expand pre-school to every 3 and 4 year old child in-need; get every Virginia student online; cultivate the next generation of high-qualified, diverse educators; and make Virginia the best state for STEM-H and computer science education.

We will also work to break down the barriers and systemic racism that keep too many young women and students of color from high-demand, high-paying careers, like STEM-H and computer science fields, and ensure that all students have access to the skills and training they need to succeed – whether through a four-year degree or a new five year high school to career program that my administration will implement. 

From economic strains to lack of treatment availability to the impact of isolation, the COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts on our physical and behavioral health and our overall well-being. As Governor, I will take a holistic approach to ensuring that every Virginian has access to the physical and behavioral health care they need.

In 2017, I laid the groundwork for expanding Medicaid and making sure thousands of Virginians got health coverage, but despite that, far too many Virginians remain uninsured and underinsured, or unable to afford their healthcare premiums or costs. This includes nearly 100,000 children who lack health insurance. That’s not just unacceptable, it’s morally wrong and we’ve got to fix it.

Making matters worse, we continue to see a rise in prescription drug prices. It’s unconscionable that during a pandemic Virginia families could have to choose between paying for lifesaving prescription medications or putting food on their families’ tables, while pharmaceutical companies continue to rake in profits. As Governor, I will partner with President Joe Biden’s administration to ensure all Virginians have access to quality, affordable health care coverage, and I will implement a new state watchdog over prescription drug prices to ensure no Virginian is forced to choose between medication or a meal.

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