The race for governor is a dead heat

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The race for governor in Virginia is tightening — at least, that is what most of the recent polls are saying. 

A poll released by the University of Mary Washington showed a lead for Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe among all voters, but the Republican nominee had a lead among likely voters, an important distinction. 

Youngkin, a political newcomer that has been working to not alienate both the base and the moderates in his party, seems to be feeling some momentum. 

“We are winning!” said Macaulay Porter, a spokeswoman for Youngkin. “There’s little enthusiasm among Virginians for a 40-year politician that failed to deliver during his first chance as governor, and multiple polls are showing that Glenn Youngkin has tremendous support across the ideological spectrum and is beginning to pull away in this race. Known liar Terry McAuliffe will say anything to distract from his failed record, but Virginia wants a change, and that change is political outsider and proven business leader Glenn Youngkin.” 

While likely voters said they prefer Youngkin, McAuliffe still leads by five points among registered voters. 

He has to put enthusiasm behind those voters that know him and prefer him to ensure that they head the polls between now and November since early voting has already started.

Recently, abortion access, vaccine mandates, and Donald Trump have been the Democratic ticket’s main motivators to rally the base.

“Virginia has a decades-long history of electing a governor from the opposite party that won the White House the year before, and Terry is the only candidate to defy those odds in nearly 40 years when he won in 2013,” said Renzo Olivari, a spokesperson for McAuliffe. “As he did before, Terry is running a 24/7 campaign laser-focused on the issues Virginians care most about - defeating COVID, creating good jobs, making health care more affordable, and giving every child a world-class education. Meanwhile, Glenn Youngkin is running a hyper-partisan campaign predicated on his three-time endorsement from Donald Trump, and his own stated priorities: banning abortion and policies based on election conspiracy theories. Virginians should make no mistake: the future of our commonwealth is on the ballot this fall and Terry will win when Virginians show up to vote early this fall."

Olivari is right about Virginia historically electing a governor who is opposite of the party in the White House. While McAuliffe did defy that trend in 2013, he was facing a far-right candidate in Ken Cuccinelli who hopped ahead of two-term Republican lieutenant governor Bill Bolling to get the gubernatorial nomination. 

“To borrow from Mark Twain, the reports of the end of Virginia’s status as a swing state are greatly exaggerated,” said Stephen J. Farnsworth, professor of political science at the University of Mary Washington and director of UMW’s Center for Leadership and Media Studies.

With less than six weeks left to drive voters to the polls, both candidates are locked in a tight race to be the next governor of Virginia. 

(In case you missed it, veteran political commentator Bob Holsworth provided analysis of partisan enthusiasm in this race yesterday.)

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A group tried and failed to stop a Republican attack ad from airing in a competitive House district

A political group in Virginia filed a cease-and-desist last month over an ad being paid for by the Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC) that targeted Democratic candidates in the House of Delegates. The RSLC followed up the next day with their own letter to the station explaining why they believe the ad accusing a state delegate of wanting to defund the police should remain on the air. 

In the television ad, the RSLC cites text that was on Future Now’s website in January of 2021 indicating they support legislation that would “establish a Commission to examine police funding in state and provide evidence-based ways to generate savings and increase public safety by reallocating funds toward proven methods to support communities, and report annually with proposed action for the Executive and Legislative branches.” 

The RSLC said in their response letter that “defunding the police has been defined, at its core, as the reallocation of money from policing to other agencies funded by local municipalities.” 

They used that statement and Future Now’s endorsement to attack one of the most vulnerable Democrats in the House, Roslyn Tyler (HD-75). “Tyler is backed by a radical, liberal group that pushed to defund the police,” the tv ad says. The source of the attack listed on the ad is the Future Now Fund’s endorsement on Twitter. 

Tyler has represented the 75 district since 2006 and defeated Otto Wachsmann in 2019 by one percentage point. Republicans are really focused on helping Wachsmann beat Tyler this time around in the rematch. The RSLC has spent $56,218 in total on tv ads against Tyler in 2021 so far. Tyler’s campaign did not provide comment for this article.

In an attempt to remove the ad from the air, lawyers for the Future Now Fund sent a cease-and-desist letter to Comcast on Aug 19.

“This advertisement contains a blatant falsehood about Future Now Fund (FNF) and State Delegate Roslyn Tyler, aimed at deceiving Virginia voters,” the lawyers wrote in the cease-and-desist. ”What’s worse, the advertisement defames FNF by using a known falsehood to try to force Del. Tyler to disassociate from the organization. This ad should be pulled from the air immediately; FNF is prepared to use all legal avenues available to protect its reputation from this false attack.”

In the letter, the lawyers write that the Future Now Fund organization has never pushed to defund police departments. “While FNF is proud to have endorsed Del. Tyler, FNF does not, and has never, pushed to ‘defund the police,’ making the ad’s statement blatantly false and defamatory,” the letter reads. 

It continues to say that the Future Now Fund has never advocated for reallocating police funding. “Rather, [Future Now Action] has recommended that states study their funding systems to determine whether some such funding may be more effectively used to prevent crime and increase public safety. It did not advocate or ‘push for’ for any policy that cuts police budgets.” 

Future Now Action is affiliated but a separate entity from Future Now Fund. They share the same website.

“These false and defamatory attacks lied about our organization in an attempt to smear a candidate,” said Simone Leiro, the Director of Communications for Future Now. “So we reached out to the station, with the track record of reporting that has called these attacks lies in order to make clear that these ads were false.”

The RSLC sent their own letter to the station the following day on Aug. 20. “We believe that Future Now’s claim is baseless and that your station should continue airing the advertisement,” the lawyers for RSLC wrote. 

The Republican lawyers cited the first amendment and a screenshot of the Future Now website in January of 2021 where they promoted legislation calling for the reallocation of police funding.

“RSLC PAC remains committed to America’s rich tradition of vigorous, open debate about candidates and the government officials who make the decisions that shape their everyday lives – including on issues affecting their safety and security,” the letter continues. “Your station ought to see Future Now’s letter for what it really is: a disingenuous attempt to distinguish between its two entities to cover up from their support of an unpopular policy position.”

The ad remained on the air. 

Future Now is currently going through a rebranding process and is transitioning to The States Project. Their social media content is being transferred as well. They deleted their Future Now Twitter profile where all the endorsements were originally announced, though are still available to be viewed on their new website.  

The Future Now Fund has given $305,000 to Virginia Democrats in 2021. 

Early voting has already begun but Democrats are fearful that enthusiasm will be lower due to Donald Trump’s 2020 loss and President Biden’s current unpopularity.

Republicans are hoping that they can crack into the 55-45 majority that the Democrats gained in 2019 to take control of the chamber.

Election day is Nov. 2.

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A group filed a complaint against a Virginia congressman for failing to disclose stock activity

The nonprofit government watchdog group Campaign Legal Center (CLC) announced Wednesday that they have filed complaints with the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) against seven members of Congress, four Democrats and three Republicans, for failure to disclose stock trades in compliance with the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge (STOCK) Act.  

Virginia congressman Bobby Scott (D-VA03) is included on the list of seven members being accused of violating the Act. According to the CLC complaint against Scott, he “may have failed to disclose up to $60,000 worth of stock transactions.”

“In 2019 and 2020, Rep. Scott appears to have purchased at least four assets with a total value ranging from approximately $4,004 to $60,000 without disclosing the transactions,” the complaint reads. “While Rep. Scott disclosed the ownership of these assets on his annual financial disclosures, he did not file periodic transaction reports (“PTRs”) for the transactions that resulted in the changes in his stock holdings, as required pursuant to the STOCK Act and House rules. An OCE investigation is necessary to determine whether his failure to file was a violation.”

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Virginia supreme court rejects redistricting challenge - Associated Press

The Supreme Court of Virginia has rejected a legal challenge to a state law that changes how prison inmates are counted for purposes of redistricting.

The challenge came from individuals, including southwest Virginia state Sen. Travis Hackworth, who argued that inmates should be counted as residents of the prisons where they are housed. A state law enacted last year changed how prisoners are counted; they are now considered residents of their last address before incarceration.

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Panelist withdraws from upcoming McAuliffe-Youngkin debate after tweets attacking GOP, evangelicals surface - Fox News

A panelist scheduled to appear at the upcoming debate between Virginia gubernatorial candidates Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin is withdrawing from the political showdown after tweets attacking Republicans and evangelicals surfaced. 

George Mason University Associate Professor Michael Fauntroy was set to appear alongside local NBC affiliate News4 Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey and Telemundo 44 reporter Alberto Pimienta to ask questions at the second face-off on Sept. 28, which is being moderated by NBC News anchor Chuck Todd. 

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