The Cavalier Daily
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EDITORIAL: Terry McAuliffe is the right choice for Virginia

The Editorial Board encourages all in our community to vote for Terry McAuliffe for governor

<p>Terry McAuliffe promises to lead Virginia into the future.</p>

Terry McAuliffe promises to lead Virginia into the future.

Since Virginia’s last gubernatorial election four years ago, the Commonwealth and the country itself have witnessed unprecedented change. From responding to COVID-19 to finally grappling with Virginia's deep and oftentimes painful history, lawmakers in Richmond certainly had plenty on their plates. In 2019, Democrats gained control of both chambers of the General Assembly for the first time since 1993, marking a fundamental shift in the political direction of the Commonwealth. However, as Virginia is the only state in the country which bars its governors from serving more than one consecutive term, the time has come for incumbent Ralph Northam to pass the torch. 

Two candidates on the ballot have a chance to shape Virginia’s future — Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin. The stakes could not be higher. Virginia’s ability to fully reopen has become a feasible reality with higher rates of vaccinations. Likewise, the pursuit of racial justice for Virginia's role in perpetuating white supremacy remains far from complete. Moreover, with the future of Roe v. Wade hanging in the balance, the need for a pro-choice governor could not be more important. Given the enormity of these stakes and the clear contrast between the candidates and their respective platforms, our decision is clear. The Editorial Board enthusiastically endorses Terry McAuliffe to be the next Governor of Virginia.

McAuliffe, having previously served as Governor, is certainly no stranger to public service. During his term, McAuliffe was forced to work with a Republican-controlled General Assembly that was antagonistic. Not only was he successful in restoring voting rights to nearly 200,000 convicted felons, but he also brought tens of thousands of new jobs to Virginia, reaching a historic 3.7 percent unemployment rate. This wealth of experience is a sharp contrast to Youngkin, who has worked exclusively in the private sector. During his time as the head of one of the world’s largest private equity firms, Youngkin amassed a considerable fortune — a resource he has heavily relied upon throughout the campaign, loaning $17.5 million to his own campaign. Youngkin’s acute lack of experience coupled with the use of his significant personal fortune to bankroll his campaign are deeply troubling. This is compounded by the fact that Youngkin’s campaign has failed to articulate a policy agenda beyond a handful of bullet points.

One of the most pressing issues facing voters this November is how the state will emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite an overwhelming consensus that vaccines are safe and effective, the political right has continued to fan the flames of confusion and fear. Youngkin has repeatedly tapped into this playbook, opposing mandates for vaccines and masks. This irresponsible stance is a threat to public safety and disqualifying. Conversely, McAuliffe has embraced vaccine mandates as the best possible strategy for safely reopening Virginia’s economy and keeping its most vulnerable residents safe. 

In addition, we also acknowledge the progress that has been made under Gov. Northam in atoning for Virginia’s painful history of white supremacy. This progress, however, is far from complete, and the Youngkin platform only seeks to hinder future strides. For example, the Youngkin campaign has sought to ban the teaching of so-called “Critical Race Theory” in classrooms throughout Virginia. However, Republican fears about CRT are just that — fears. Not only is there no mention of CRT in Virginia’s Standards of Learning, but calls for its removal are a distraction from necessary equitable change. 

Attention has also shifted in recent months to the future of Roe v. Wade as the Supreme Court is due to hear several cases this term seeking not only to restrict its protections but even overturn its very precedent. Youngkin has made his anti-abortion stance clear, seeking to enact a pain threshold law — a measure that would effectively restrict all abotions past 20 weeks. Conversely, McAuliffe has said he would codify Roe’s protections into Virginia’s constitution. Women’s access to reproductive healthcare is greatly imperilled by the possibility of a Youngkin governorship.

Perhaps most concerning of all has been Youngkin’s refusal to distance himself from former president Donald Trump. Not only has Youngkin been endorsed by Trump, but he has called for enhanced voting security measures and refused on numerous occasions to condemn the former president, even following the insurrection at the Capitol Jan. 6. Although Youngkin has sought to portray himself as a common-sense conservative, his association with — and at times even embrace of — Trump is dangerous. 

Ultimately, Virginia finds itself at a critical crossroad. Voters — especially college students — must make their voices heard, as polling has tightened considerably in recent weeks. Every vote matters. The choice this November is clear — Terry McAuliffe promises to lead Virginia into the future. The question is whether we will move in that direction.

The Cavalier Daily Editorial Board is composed of the Executive Editor, the Editor-in-Chief, the two Opinion Editors, their Senior Associate and an Opinion Columnist. The board can be reached at