PoliticsWilliam J. Ford

Va. Gubernatorial Candidates McAuliffe, Youngkin Clash in Final Debate

Third-Party Candidate Princess Blanding Temporarily Interrupts Proceedings

In the second and final debate between Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday, the candidates revealed distinctly different views on COVID-19 vaccines with about 35 days remaining until the general eection on Nov. 2.

“I’m running against a candidate who actually has been spreading anti-vax rhetoric throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said McAuliffe, the former Democratic governor who served between 2014 to 2018. “We cannot move this economy forward and keep our schools open if we’re not getting our folks vaccinated.”

Youngkin, a Republican and former CEO of the Carlyle Group, said he supports requiring childhood vaccinations for diseases such as measles, mumps and rubella. But in regard to a COVID-19 vaccine, he said, “No.”

“I’ve gotten the [COVID-19] vaccine. My family has gotten the vaccine. It’s the best way for people to keep themselves safe,” he said. “I have asked everyone in Virginia to please get the vaccine but I don’t think we should mandate it.”

As of Tuesday, the state health department reported 860,493 coronavirus cases in Maryland and a total of 12,647 deaths.

Within the first 15 minutes of the debate at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria campus, third-party candidate Princess Blanding interrupted the proceedings, demanding that she be allowed to join McAuliffe and Youngkin on stage.

Third-party candidate Princess Blanding drove five hours from Middlesex, Virginia, to attend the gubernatorial debate on Sept. 28, only to be escorted out of the room after attempting to interrupt the event. (Pool photo/Win McNamee-Getty Images)
Third-party candidate Princess Blanding drove five hours from Middlesex, Virginia, to attend the gubernatorial debate on Sept. 28, only to be escorted out of the room after attempting to interrupt the event. (Pool photo/Win McNamee-Getty Images)

Blanding, who represents the Liberation Party, said she drove five hours from Middlesex, Virginia, to ensure her platform received attention on issues that include racial justice, health care and community police reform.

“This is not democracy. This is racism. I have every right to be up there. This is voter suppression,” Blanding said before being escorted out of the room.

McAuliffe, unable to run for a consecutive term because Virginia law prohibits governors to do so, said to reporters after the debate that he had no problem with Blanding participating in the debate.

“We’re not involved in this at all,” he said in terms of organizing the debate.

The sponsors of the one-hour debate, hosted by the community college, included a partnership with George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government, Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce, Capital One and NBC4 and Telemundo 44.

As for McAuliffe’s plans should he be successful in his bid for office, he said he would seek to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour, give his support for paid sick days and medical leave and ensure lower costs in health care.

Youngkin said he would eliminate the grocery tax, saving Virginians $1,500 “in year one” of his term in office. He also vowed to “fully fund police,” create 400,000 jobs and “turn Virginia into the most military-friendly state in the country.”

And while Youngkin hasn’t officially mentioned former President Donald Trump unless specifically asked, the former CEO of the Carlyle Group said he would support Trump if he ran in the 2024 presidential election.

Trump, who endorsed Youngkin, iterated during a radio interview on Thursday, Sept. 23, that the Republican candidate would not win if he failed to “embrace the MAGA movement.”

During the debate, both men accused one another of lying to the voters while frequently exchanging verbal jabs.

“Revenues and expenses I know are hard for you, buddy,” Youngkin said.

“That’s why you got tossed out of your firm,” McAuliffe replied.

“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” Youngkin said.

Youngkin reiterated public views that distinguish between choosing a candidate with fresh ideas rather than one who stands as a career politician.

“The polls say I’m ahead. Let the voters of Virginia decide,” Youngkin said, although he failed to identify which polls indicate him having a lead.

However, in a poll released Monday, Sept. 27 by Monmouth University, the results show that a growing number of registered voters favor having a more familiar face leading the commonwealth.

Poll: Voters favor McAuliffe

On the eve of the Tuesday debate, Monmouth University released a poll that shows McAuliffe with an advantage of 5 percentage points among registered voters, with the former governor garnering 48% versus Youngkin at 43%.

The poll shows McAuliffe with a huge lead among Black voters at 83% versus 3% for Youngkin. Among Latino, Asian and multiracial voters, McAuliffe leads with 53% to 28% for Youngkin.

Youngkin, the former CEO of the Carlye Group investment firm, leads among white voters 57% with 36% for McAuliffe. However, white voters with a college degree support McAuliffe 50% versus 43% for Youngkin, according to the poll.

The poll also assessed regional voter support with McAuliffe holding a huge advantage in the D.C. suburbs of Northern Virginia at 58% versus 29% for Youngkin.

The 801 registered voters surveyed in the Monmouth poll assessed the top three issues: jobs and the economy at 39%; the coronavirus pandemic at 32%; and education and schools at 31%.

Voters remain somewhat split among those who would trust the handling of the commonwealth’s economic future with Youngkin receiving 36% and McAuliffe polling at 35%.

McAuliffe received high marks for how he might handle the pandemic at 41% versus 28% for Youngkin.

The percentage points for schools remain slightly closer with McAuliffe garnering 37% and Youngkin 33%.

Monmouth conducted a poll on the governor’s race last month and most of the results remain unchanged which showed registered voters choosing McAuliffe over Youngkin, 47% to 42%, respectively.

“Despite a televised debate [Sept. 16] and a slew of campaign advertising over the past month, the needle has barely moved on how Virginia voters view these two candidates,” said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The university conducted the poll between Sept. 22-26 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

The Nov. 2 general election also feature contests for lieutenant governor, attorney general and all 100 seats in the House of Delegates.

William J. Ford – Washington Informer Staff Writer

I decided I wanted to become a better writer while attending Bowie State University and figured that writing for the school newspaper would help. I’m not sure how much it helped, but I enjoyed it so much I decided to keep on doing it, which I still thoroughly enjoy 20 years later. If I weren’t a journalist, I would coach youth basketball. Actually, I still play basketball, or at least try to play, once a week. My kryptonite is peanut butter. What makes me happy – seeing my son and two godchildren grow up. On the other hand, a bad call made by an official during a football or basketball game makes me throw up my hands and scream. Favorite foods include pancakes and scrambled eggs which I could eat 24-7. The strangest thing that’s ever happened to me, or more accurately the most painful, was when I was hit by a car on Lancaster Avenue in Philadelphia. If I had the power or money to change the world, I’d make sure everyone had three meals a day. And while I don’t have a motto or favorite quote, I continue to laugh which keeps me from driving myself crazy. You can reach me several ways: Twitter @jabariwill, Instagram will_iam.ford2281 or e-mail, wford@washingtoninformer.com

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One Comment

  1. Happy to say I just sent in my ballot with AMANDA CHASE written in for governor. This movement is bigger than the two goofs we saw on stage during the debate. We’re going to get a real conservative in office FINALLY.

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