Virginia’s election could sway national politics

Published: Nov. 2, 2021 at 4:10 PM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - It’s election night in Virginia. Political experts and lawmakers who spoke with the Gray Television Washington News Bureau said the Virginia’s governor’s race is a barometer for what’s to come in Washington D.C. next year and possibly even next week.

On the campaign trail, Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin staked out positions on traditional state issues, positions that overlap with the debates dividing our country like abortion, immigration, and education.

McAuliffe, who previously governed Virginia between 2014 and 2018, leaned into his personal ties to President Biden. He invested substantial time and ad dollars into tying his Republican opponent to President Donald Trump.

For his part, Youngkin -- a former private equity executive -- worked to tie McAuliffe to Biden’s recent political challenges like rising inflation. Youngkin said he was honored to receive former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, but politically kept him at arm’s length during the general election campaign.

Georgetown University Political Science Professor Mark Rom said, nationally, both sides of the aisle will use the result of the Virginia governor’s race to recalibrate heading into the 2022 midterms.

“If the Republicans can pick off Virginia, what looks to be a pretty blue state now in 2021... the Democrats would really feel a very sharp wound,” he said.

Rom said the race will provide a good read for Democrats as to whether running anti-Trump campaigns will be effective without the former president on the ballot.

Republicans don’t need much political momentum to pick up a handful of seats in the 2022 midterms, retake control of the U.S. House, and effectively wield a veto over much of President Joe Biden’s future agenda.

At a recent rally for McAuliffe, the president argued for investing nearly two trillion dollars over ten years into infrastructure, tackling climate change and strengthening the social safety net, emphasizing, “that’s what’s in my Build Back Better initiative.”

Democrats cannot pass their priorities without complete backing of every one of their members in the Senate and near unanimous support in the House. On-going, months-long intra-party negotiations surrounding infrastructure, climate, and social safety net proposals remain tense and tenuous

Republican Congressman Ben Cline predicts a Youngkin win in Virginia would destabilize the left’s fragile framework agreements.

“We’re going to have a wholesale abandonment of Build Back better and their liberal agenda by moderates on the left,” Cline said in a recent interview.

We reached out to one of those moderate Democrats expected to face a tight race for re-election in 2022: Central Virginia’s Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.). We wanted to ask how, if at all, final results in Virginia’s elections might affect political her own political calculations on Capitol Hill. Her office directed us to her campaign, which has yet to respond.

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