Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe easily won his state’s Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday, beating his four fellow candidates by double-digit margins and moving one step closer to his old job.
McAuliffe, who was governor from 2014 to 2018, had 62% of the vote when the race was called, and is set to face first-time Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin in November. He beat out Virginia state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Jennifer Carroll Foy, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Delegate Lee Carter.
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who succeeded McAuliffe in 2017, is ineligible to serve another consecutive term under state law. If McAuliffe wins in November, he would be just the second governor since the Civil War to serve two terms. (RELATED: McAuliffe Launches Bid For His Old Post)
Even though turnout appeared to be lower than expected Tuesday, McAuliffe still cruised to victory. He was considered the wide favorite in the race given his greater name recognition and cash-on-hand.
Tuesday’s primary is the first in decades where every statewide official and legislative chamber is led by Democrats. The state flipped both its House and Senate in 2019, and since then Northam has led the charge on a series of Democratic priorities including abolishing the death penalty, legalizing marijuana and adopting several gun control measures.
As governor, McAuliffe was a close ally of the Clintons and consistently held a positive approval rating. During his term he often vetoed bills passed by the Republican state legislature, and in his final days in office pardoned approximately 60,000 convicted felons.
McAuliffe was also a leading backer of GreenTech Automotive, a now-defunct electric car company that was caught in scandal after allegedly selling U.S. residency to Chinese citizens who invested at least $500,000 in the company.
Though Youngkin has raked up Republican endorsements, including support from former President Donald Trump, and has the ability to self-fund his campaign, he faces an uphill battle in a state that has trended Democratic throughout the 21st Century and that Trump lost by over 10 points.
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