Virginia governor’s race: Youngkin and McAuliffe vying for votes in Hampton Roads

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY/AP) — As the battle for the governor’s mansion heats up in Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin are vying for votes in Hampton Roads.

Glenn Youngkin made his way through the region this past weekend. Youngkin began in Virginia Beach meeting with Sheriff Ken Stolle and his deputies, reinforcing support for law enforcement and qualified immunity. The Republican candidate went on to meet with voters at the Smoothie Stop in Hilltop before heading out to meet with with local farmers and ending at CaribFest in Norfolk.

McAuliffe, who previously served as governor, also made his way to the Virginia Peninsula last week, taking a tour of the Virginia Technical Academy in Newport News then meeting with small business owners at the 1865 Brewing Co. in Hampton.

McAuliffe is currently leading in every poll.

The most recent survey from Christopher Newport University in Newport News has McAuliffe up in Hampton Roads 52% to Youngkin’s 41%. A VCU poll, however, has the two in a virtual tie.

“I don’t pay attention to polls, I’ll be honest with you, [I] always run like I’m 20 points down,” said McAuliffe. “This was always going to be a close election.”

Two months out from election day on Nov. 2, Youngkin is feeling positive.

“This race is really neck-and-neck and we have huge momentum on the campaign trail,” said Youngkin.

Only Virginia and New Jersey have “off-year” governor elections. Some experts say they’re an opportunity to focus on state issues rather than national conversations, which can dominate regular election years. Others view these elections as a referendum of sorts on the previous year’s presidential election and how that party is doing in office.

Pandemic recovery and vaccine mandates are major topics for both campaigns.

McAuliffe stands behind Gov. Ralph Northam’s vaccine mandate for all state employees and strongly encourages private companies to follow that lead.

“If we’re going to build a great economy, we have to do it with people who are vaccinated and end this horrible COVID pandemic,” said McAuliffe.

Youngkin says he supports vaccines but doesn’t support vaccine mandates.

“This is a personal decision. And therefore I respect people’s ability to make it,” said Youngkin. “I got the vaccine. My family got the vaccine. I would not impose the vaccine on Virginians but I’m encouraging everyone to please get it.”

When it comes to Afghanistan McAuliffe tweeted out sympathy for the families who lost their loved ones. McAuliffe’s son was a captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Youngkin argues the chaos in Afghanistan didn’t have to happen this way.

“You can’t watch what’s happened in Afghanistan over the last 10 days and not only be incredibly saddened but also be incredibly embarrassed. And be incredibly angry,” said Youngkin. “This is about a demonstration of abject failure in leadership from Joe Biden.”

Youngkin believes Virginians will keep the failure in Afghanistan in mind when heading to the polls this November.

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