McAuliffe, Youngkin make final pitch to voters in close race for Virginia governor

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)- Virginia’s leading candidates for governor made their final pitch to voters on the eve of Election Day.

Even though a Republican hasn’t won statewide office in more than a decade, polls show former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee, is tied with Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, a former private equity executive.

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, this gubernatorial campaign has been the most expensive in state history. Youngkin and McAuliffe have raised a combined $115 million–more than $57 million a piece–with the third party candidate Princess Blanding raising just under $35 thousand.

The race is considered a referendum on complete Democratic control in Richmond and a chance to take the pulse of the political climate ahead of nationwide mid-term elections next year.

“This is a moment for Virginians to push back on this left, liberal, progressive agenda and take our Commonwealth back,” Youngkin told a roaring crowd at Richmond Executive Aviation on Monday. “We have a defining moment in front of us.”

McAuliffe spent his final hours on the campaign trail defending his party’s progress and arguing that Youngkin will bring the politics of President Donald Trump to Virginia. One of his last stops was at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond.

“The state is in a different place. We can’t go back. We don’t want a Trump ‘wanna be,’ someone who has been endorsed by Donald Trump ten times,” McAuliffe said.

President Trump is planning to speak at a tele-rally Monday at 8pm but Youngkin is not participating, according to his campaign.

Youngkin also avoided mentioning Trump during his Richmond rally, as he has for the majority of the general election. Instead, the GOP nominee focused on his plans to recruit jobs, cut taxes, slash business regulations, defend law enforcement, fire the parole board and expand school choice. He drew some of his loudest applause when he pledged to ban critical race theory in the classroom and opposed school shutdowns.

McAuliffe has accused Youngkin of using “racist dog whistles” to divide parents and students. However, Youngkin’s message on education seemed to be resonating with some voters.

“The most important issue for me is education,” said Manuel Roberto Flores, a retired general. “That whole area is in turmoil.”

“We want our teachers to teach our children how to think not what to think. I don’t want my children indoctrinated.” said Bob Tarantola, a parent from Henrico.

“Parent choice is a huge issue for me. I’m fighting for these kids,” said mother of three Nina Berry from Chesterfield. “I think that parent choice for me means no mandates.”

Meanwhile, McAuliffe is pledging to expand healthcare access, defend reproductive rights, fight climate change, protect voting rights, invest billions more in public schools and bring in new business.

Voters at McAuliffe’s rally repeatedly highlighted his record on education and the economy, as well as his ability to work across the aisle.

“I like how he restored the voting rights of felons. I liked his fiscal responsibility. He’s a fighter for education,” said John Jarrett from Petersburg.

“It seemed like every other week he was bringing new jobs into Virginia and I know he worked real hard to reach across the aisle,” said Nicholas Morris from Richmond.

“I think he is a consensus builder,” said Delta Bowers from Henrico. “He’s all about economic empowerment and education parity for the people of Virginia.”

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Virginians are also electing their next lieutenant governor and attorney general. All one hundred seats in the House of Delegates are on the ballot as well.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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