Obama and Trump Engage in Key Battle for Virginia Governor’s Seat

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Obama and Trump Engage in Key Battle for Virginia Governor’s Seat


Joe Biden faces a key public reputation test in a tight and closely watched campaign for governor of Virginia next month. The fight has become so prominent being seen as an indicator of the 2022 midterm elections, that two ex-presidents are weighing in on the battle.

For Biden and the Democrats, winning Virginia would offer the prospect of retaining control over Congress next year and avoiding being seen as a lame duck administration. For Republicans, a victory could portend a big comeback in 2022 and a comeback in electoral strength for a party still dominated by Donald Trump.

The stakes are so high that Trump and Barack Obama are stepping into the race.

Last week, Trump called a rally of Virginia supporters, urging them to vote for Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, and calling him a “great gentleman.” Meanwhile, Obama will arrive in the state later this month to increase black voter turnout. “The stakes couldn’t be higher,” Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe said as he announced campaign support for Obama on MSNBC last week.

Contest proxies McAuliffe, a former governor candidate for the post he held from 2014 to 2018, and first Republican challenger Youngkin, currently vote fairly close at 48.5% and 46.4%, according to FiveThirtyEight – which makes the race unpredictable and tight.

The men are running to replace Democratic state governor Ralph Northam, who has been in the party’s political niche since 2019, when it was revealed that his 1984 medical school directory page contained a photo of a person dressed as a member of the KKK and another in blackface posing as an African American.

The run in Virginia comes against a backdrop of bad news for Biden, who has seen his popularity drop following the botched pullout from Afghanistan and legislative deadlock over key national agenda and growing uncertainty post-pandemic economic recovery. His approval rating has gone from 55% in March to around 44% now.

But the contest also presents a test for Trump, who lost Virginia by 10% in 2020, but is increasingly seen as gauging his grip on the Republican Party and its voters ahead of midterms, which could then do toggle his decision to stand for re-election in 2024.

Trump’s intervention in the race is not a win-win for Youngkin either. The pair are unlikely to campaign in person, as Youngkin must simultaneously appeal to pro-Trump rural voters, but not telegraph any associations so blatantly as to distract moderate Republican voters from the centric northern Virginia suburb. on Washington, where elections in the state are often decided.

Bob Holsworth, a longtime political analyst in the state, told the Washington Post that if Trump were to stage a rally in the state it would be a “disaster” for Youngkin. “The more he shows up and the more he participates, the worse it is for Youngkin,” he added.

But Trump countered that political wisdom with part of his own: “The only guys who win are those who embrace the Maga movement,” Trump said in an interview with conservative talk show host John Fredericks.

Instead of openly embracing Trump, Youngkin campaigned with Texas Senator Ted Cruz and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. But he avoided an event hosted by Trump strategist Steve Bannon, who could face contempt charges Tuesday for refusing to cooperate with an investigation into the Jan.6 riot on Capitol Hill. Youngkin was also careful to criticize the Bannon Event’s use of a flag that was allegedly hoisted during the Jan.6 uprising.

Youngkin’s hands-on, hands-off approach is also designed not to raise the thorns of relatively unengaged Democratic support for McAuliffe, who has his own approval issues to deal with.

For his part, the former governor of Virginia has close ties to the Clintons, whose popularity with independents and left-wing Democrats is far from assured. Last month, Hillary Clinton, whose first failed presidential nomination campaign was co-chaired by McAuliffe, sent out a fundraising email. This was followed by a fundraising event hosted by Bill Clinton.

But other Democratic heavyweights are heading to Virginia to allay Democratic anxiety and try to propel McAuliffe’s campaign to the decisive victory they need. Georgia Democratic star Stacey Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and First Lady Jill Biden are also expected in the state’s northern suburbs, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi plans a fundraiser. .

But Biden himself is and likely will remain absent from Virginia. Reflecting Youngkin’s relationship with Trump, McAuliffe and his aides have expressed fears of teaming up with Biden. McAuliffe recently called the president “unpopular” in Virginia.

McAuliffe also indicated that the legislative deadlock in Washington is damaging Democrats across the country as a whole. “Democrats need to stop talking and they need to do something,” McAuliffe told the Washington Post. “You were elected to get things done. We have the House, the Senate and the White House.

Over the heads of Democrats hang memories of the loss of the midterm election in 2010, a crushing defeat for Obama that was predicted when Democrats lost a Senate seat in Massachusetts as they tried. to pass a controversial health care reform bill.

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