RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin were making last-minute pushes Sunday to energize voters across Virginia in the final days of the competitive and closely watched governor’s race.
With the state's early voting period finished, the campaigns turned their attention to Tuesday's contest, each trying to fire up his party's base to drive up turnout for an election that will be scrutinized as a bellwether ahead of next year's midterms.
McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, and Democrats are scrambling to stave off disaster after public polling has shifted in Youngkin’s direction in recent weeks. Republicans are optimistic about their chances in the commonwealth, where they haven't won a statewide race since 2009.
After campaigning across northern Virginia on Saturday, Youngkin departed for the far southwest corner of the state. Stops along his bus tour included a prayer breakfast, a worship service, a barbecue at the home of a powerful state lawmaker, a meet-and-greet in the state's farthest-flung corner and an evening get-out-the-vote rally.
McAuliffe, who preceded Democrat Ralph Northam as governor in the only state that doesn't allow its executive to serve consecutive terms, spent Saturday in Virginia's southeastern corner before planning stops Sunday in suburban Richmond and northern Virginia.
McAuliffe has brought in a series of high-profile surrogates including President Joe Biden, former President Barack Obama and celebrity musicians Pharrell Williams and Dave Matthews in the final stretch. Youngkin, meanwhile, has eschewed virtually all public campaign visits from well-known party allies who would typically flock to a hot race.
That includes former President Donald Trump, who is holding a telerally for Youngkin on Monday. Youngkin said he will not be participating. Youngkin more fully embraced Trump during the Republican nominating contest, but since becoming the nominee, he has walked a tight line as he tries to court moderate voters in a state that Trump lost by 10 percentage points to Biden in 2016.
Sarah Rankin, The Associated Press