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McAuliffe Has the Democratic Primary Locked Up in Virginia’s Gubernatorial Race

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Then-Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe arrives at the election night rally for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam in Fairfax, Va., November 7, 2017. (Aaron P. Bernstein/Reuters) The former governor has a substantial edge over his competitors in both name recognition and fundraising.

Each year following a presidential-election contest, two states host a gubernatorial race: Virginia and New Jersey. In Virginia, several Democratic candidates are preparing to square off in tomorrow’s primary election, fighting for the chance to face Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, who has already secured the GOP nomination.

Youngkin is a long-time businessman who early last month defeated six other GOP primary candidates in the Republican convention. This election cycle, the party chose to host a convention rather than a traditional primary, likely an effort to avoid the past mistake of ending up with a divisive candidate chosen by a plurality of the state’s most invested Republicans.

On May 8, about 54,000 Virginia delegates for the state Republican Party cast their ballots using ranked-choice voting, and after six rounds of counting, Youngkin won the nomination with 55 percent of the vote.

On the Democratic side, current Virginia governor Ralph Northam is ineligible to run for reelection due to the state’s prohibition on governors serving two consecutive terms. But there is one big-name contender on the ballot: former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, who preceded Northam and served from 2014 to 2018.

Due to his high name recognition, McAuliffe has a substantial edge in tomorrow’s primary field. A Roanoke College poll published last Friday showed that almost half of likely Democratic-primary voters said they would vote for McAuliffe, while about 25 percent remained undecided. The poll surveyed about 600 likely voters during the last week of May, and the results lined up with what surveys from April indicated.

As of mid April, McAuliffe’s campaign had raised $4.2 million in the first quarter of this year and ended the quarter with $8.5 million cash on hand, which was more than the combined war chests of his many opponents in the primary.

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