independent– Virginia Democrats are hoping the power of the presidency can help them retain the governor’s seat in the closely watched and tightly contested election less than two weeks away.
Former President Barack Obama planned to campaign with Terry McAuliffe in Richmond on Saturday afternoon and President Joe Biden is joining the Democratic nominee in northern Virginia on Tuesday. McAuliffe, governor from 2014-2018, is seeking a return to office in the only state where the incumbent cannot serve consecutive terms.
His Republican opponent, former private equity executive and first-time candidate Glenn Youngkin, was expected to hold an evening rally in suburban Richmond at the start of a statewide bus tour.
While New Jersey is also holding an election for governor on Nov. 2, it’s the Virginia race that’s grabbed national attention for indications of voter sentiment before next year’s midterms.
Obama visited Virginia’s capital to rally Democrats during Ralph Northam’s 2017 race for governor against Republican Ed Gillespie, who lost by about 9 percentage points.
Other high-profile Democrats have come to the state in recent days to press the case for McAuliffe’s candidacy. They include voting rights activist Stacey Abrams, Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and Vice President Kamala Harris, who told a crowd Thursday night, “This race is tight.”
Biden campaigned with McAuliffe in July over the summer.
Youngkin has generally steered clear of outside supporters in the final stretch. His campaign said in a news release that “instead of surrogates,” the bus tour would feature “everyday Virginians” who will speak about how they think they would benefit from Youngkin’s tax and policy proposals.
Youngkin’s campaign has not responded to questions from The Associated Press about whether former President Donald Trump has been asked to campaign in Virginia with Youngkin or on his behalf. Trump has endorsed Youngkin multiple times and called into a rally organized by a right-wing radio host this month to exhort the crowd to vote for him.