There’s no doubt about it – Terry McAuliffe is in trouble in Virginia. After previously serving as governor from 2014 to 2018, McAuliffe presumably believed he could simply cruise back into the position he once won by nearly three points. But since locking up the Democratic nomination early last month, it has been anything but smooth sailing for McAuliffe & Company. Now facing a multitude of crises created by the Biden administration, growing public outcry against radical left-wing policies, and a litany of attacks from within his own party, McAuliffe has suddenly found himself in an electoral landscape far different from the one he navigated nearly a decade ago.
The latest, and perhaps most devastating blow against McAuliffe, has come from former Democrat Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder, who became the first African American elected governor in US history in 1989. During a radio interview last week, Wilder delivered a stinging rebuke of McAuliffe for campaigning with current Virginia governor Ralph Northam. As AMAC Newsline has previously reported, McAuliffe called on Northam to resign following his blackface controversy in 2019, but has since enthusiastically embraced Northam’s endorsement of his candidacy for governor, a reversal that Wilder took issue with during a radio interview last week.
“The people of Virginia have not forgotten,” Wilder said. “They are not stupid. They are not fooled, they are not being hoodwinked.” Wilder called on McAuliffe to explain his flip flopping and went on to criticize McAuliffe’s previous term in office, saying that “many of the problems we speak of were occurring when Mr. McAuliffe was governor.”
Wilder also criticized McAuliffe for not supporting one of the several minority candidates who sought the Democratic nomination, echoing the concerns of several other Virginia Democrats. In a social media posting last week, Wilder accused McAuliffe of believing that his minority primary opponents were “not qualified to be given the chance that he [McAuliffe] had been given.”
McAuliffe has faced even worse criticism from Republicans and Independents alike for his stance on Critical Race Theory (CRT), particularly after several Virginia school board meetings recently became ground zero for the rapidly escalating public outcry against CRT indoctrination in K-12 classrooms.
Despite the fact that McAuliffe has done his best to distance himself from CRT, summarily dismissing it as a “right-wing conspiracy theory,” financial disclosures show that pro-CRT groups have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to McAuliffe’s campaign, leading many to wonder what policies McAuliffe has promised to introduce if elected. One of the largest McAuliffe donors, the National Education Association, which has contributed at least $125,000 to McAuliffe since 2013, has pledged to “not back down” from including CRT in the public school curriculum, and has pushed to replace traditional American history with narratives like the now widely-discredited New York Times 1619 Project.
This news is not likely to sit well with Virginia voters, even many who voted for Joe Biden in 2020. According to recent data released by Public Opinion Strategies, which sampled 400 registered voters in Fairfax and Loudon counties – won by Joe Biden last year by a margin of 42.2% and 25.2%, respectively – 50% of respondents had a negative opinion of CRT, while only 42% have a positive opinion. Notably, independent voters opposed CRT by 48% to 31%, and even a full 23% of Democrats surveyed opposed CRT.
Several conservative groups have seized on this opportunity to expose McAuliffe as out of touch with ordinary Virginians, even those who don’t consider themselves conservative. According to Fox News, one organization, 1776 Action, which has the support of GOP stars Newt Gingrich, Ben Carson, and Kristi Noem, sent out more than 150,000 texts to independent voters in Northern Virginia last week that read in part “Terry McAuliffe says this is all a made-up conspiracy, but these moms & dads have a very different take.” The text message then linked to a webpage that includes videos of Loudon County parents and students sharing their experiences with CRT.
The list of woes goes on for McAuliffe. While many of his wounds are undoubtedly self-inflicted, McAuliffe’s struggles mirror those of many other Democrats nationally who have tied themselves to the extreme left-wing policies of President Biden and Congressional Democrats. As the border disaster continues unmitigated, the Biden Administration continues its assault on First and Second Amendment freedoms, and Congress passes one radical policy after another, McAuliffe finds himself in the unenviable yet predictable position of being guilty by association.
Meanwhile, as McAuliffe has struggled to defend the dismal record of his fellow Democrats, Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin’s stock has surged. Youngkin has proven to be the antithesis of the established political class embodied by McAuliffe. A young, energetic, and authentic candidate with a knack for speaking to the issues that matter most to ordinary voters, Youngkin is making inroads with moderate and left-leaning Virginians left weary after years of unified Democrat control in Richmond. Combined with President Trump’s endorsement, which is sure to invigorate the conservative base and spur fundraising efforts, Youngkin stands more than a fighting chance of beating McAuliffe, who was originally regarded as a prohibitive frontrunner.
“Our shared values are going to bring us together like never before,” Youngkin said during his acceptance speech last month. “We’re going to take back our Commonwealth. We’re going to change the future and we are going to change the future of this great country and we are going to do it together.” Time will tell if Mr. Youngkin can capitalize on the growing resentment against Democrat policies to make good on his promises and secure the governor’s mansion this November.
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