Biden Sees Democrat McAuliffe Winning Governor Race in Virginia
(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden predicted that Democrat Terry McAuliffe would win the governor’s race in Virginia on Tuesday, saying it will depend on turnout, and downplaying the impact of delays in passing his domestic agenda.
“I think we’re going to win in Virginia,” Biden said at a news conference in Glasgow, Scotland, at the conclusion of the United Nations COP26 climate change summit. Off-year elections are always difficult, he said. “I think it’s going to be very close. I think it’s going to get down to, as you all know, turnout.”
Voting in Virginia’s gubernatorial contest between McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin wraps up Tuesday, with polls showing a tight race in what otherwise should be a comfortable Democratic stronghold.
The race offers the most consequential assessment of Democrats’ popularity since Biden took office. It comes a year after the election that swept Biden to power -- with a 10-point victory in Virginia -- and ousted Donald Trump. Now, Democrats are at risk of losing control of one or both chambers of Congress in next year’s mid-term elections.
Biden distanced his own agenda from the close race. He has been pushing to pass his economic bills in part to show that his party can deliver on its pledges. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seeking to seal a vote this week on both a bipartisan infrastructure deal, which has passed the Senate, and Biden’s framework for a reconciliation package of social programs.
“I don’t believe, and I’ve not seen any evidence, that whether or not I am doing well or poorly, whether or not I’ve got my agenda passed or not, is going to have any real impact on winning or losing,” Biden said. “Even if we had passed my agenda, I wouldn’t claim we won because Biden’s agenda passed.”
Virginia Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, said that he thinks the stalled push is hurting the party. If both had already passed, “we’d be in a better place in Virginia,” he said Monday. “Clearly showing we can make progress would have been nice.”
McAuliffe has tried to tie Youngkin, the former co-CEO of Carlyle Group Inc., to Trump, who held a tele-rally for Youngkin Monday evening. Youngkin has otherwise tried to distance himself from Trump in the general election, saying he’ll attract jobs, and focused on issues like how racism is taught in public schools.
McAuliffe is campaigning on policies similar to Biden’s, including promising to institute the state’s first paid family and medical leave, expanding pre-kindergarten programs and lowering health-care costs. Biden campaigned for McAuliffe last week.
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