The ghost of Donald Trump just surfaced in Virginia

In the wake of Gavin Newsom’s spectacular triumph in the ill-conceived California recall election, Bill Palmer rightly urged progressives to take a day to luxuriate in the great defeat of the California Republicans, but then get right to work on the next race with national implications — the Virginia governor’s race.

Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, was quite popular when he left office in 2018, and was prevented from being re-elected only by Virginia’s quirky prohibition against a Governor serving two successive terms. Virginia has become even more solidly Democratic since then, yet McAuliffe is locked in a shockingly tight race with newcomer Glenn Youngkin, another businessman turned first-time politician who claims he is going to bring a fresh, private-sector perspective to governing.

If this sounds familiar, Youngkin, indeed, has Donald Trump’s “Complete and Total Endorsement!” In the process of competing for the Virginia Republican nomination, Youngkin emphasized his ties to Trump, even stating that the chance to implement Trump’s policies in Virginia was a big reason he entered the race.

But apparently realizing that Trump’s endorsement is the kiss of death among the general electorate in 2021, Youngkin’s General Election campaign totally ignores his Trumpist views. Youngkin’s campaign ads are filled with stories of his background and have vague, Reaganesque “morning in America” themes tailored to Virginia.

Youngkin mentions nothing about his embrace of Republican positions relating to women’s rights, gun reform, and public health matters that are out of step with most Virginians. Nothing that gives even a hint that he would be a disaster for Virginia like DeSantis in Florida, Abbott in Texas, Noem in South Dakota, and Reynolds in Iowa. To remind voters who Youngkin really is, McAuliffe has dubbed him “Trumpkin.”

In contrast to Youngkin, Terry McAuliffe and his running mates, Hala Ayala for Lieutenant Governor and Mark Herring for Attorney General have proven progressive records. When he was Governor, McAuliffe added 200,000 jobs to the Virginia economy, championed women’s healthcare, and pushed initiatives related to infrastructure, cyber security, workforce development, and clean energy.

If elected again, McAuliffe will build on the success of past Virginia Democratic Governors, including himself, but he also needs to retain both houses of the current Democratic legislature, so he is able to implement progressive initiatives relating to affordable healthcare, education, and job creation, rather than simply serving as a bulwark against retro policies of legislatures pushed by Republican legislatures, as Democratic Governors in North Carolina, Michigan, and Kentucky must do.

It is important for Virginians and progressives around the country to take this race seriously and help deliver another Democratic victory by undertaking the necessary work, such as get-out-the vote efforts through canvassing, phone banks, postcard writing campaigns, and personal persuasion, as well as fund raising. To learn more about how you can help, go here.

Make no mistake, a Youngkin victory would set Virginia back decades and put it on a dangerous course like Florida and Texas whose awful governors are hellbent on squashing women’s rights, suppressing votes, fanning the flames of racial and ethnic discrimination, and exacerbating the COVID pandemic. Let’s get to work and elect a progressive, Democratic team in Virginia!

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