Democrats lose Virginia governor's race as New Jersey contest remains tight

Richmond, Virginia - Democrats were dealt a resounding defeat in the Virginia governor's race on Tuesday, stoking fears about the approaching 2022 midterms.

Democrat Terry McAuliffe (l.) has lost the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial race to Trump-endorsed Republican Glenn Youngkin.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe (l.) has lost the 2021 Virginia gubernatorial race to Trump-endorsed Republican Glenn Youngkin.  © Collage: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire & IMAGO / UPI Photo

Trump-endorsed candidate Glenn Youngkin claimed victory over Biden-backed Democrat Terry McAuliffe on Tuesday night.

Biden previously won the state by 10 percentage points in 2020, the Associated Press reported.

Youngkin, a newcomer to politics, accepted Trump's endorsement but did not campaign or highlight his connection with the ex-president.

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The strategy appears to have been a successful one that others may try to emulate next year.

McAuliffe, on the other hand, already served as governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018 and chair of the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005. He maintains close personal ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The Republican contender was quick to paint McAuliffe as a member of the elite political establishment. He himself ran a campaign focused on opposing Covid-19 mandates, objecting to the state's recently passed clean energy initiative, and eliminating "critical race theory" in schools.

Critics have called out McAuliffe for placing too much emphasis on distinguishing himself from Trump. They say he didn't do enough to present a strong vision for positive change in Virginia. Democrats' inability to pass Biden's Build Back Better agenda likely didn't help matters.

The defeat has Democrats fearing for what's coming in the 2022 midterms, with many more governors' seats and control of Congress at stake.

"Stop making this about Donald J. Trump, and make this about the needs of the people in the states that you are running in," progressive icon Nina Turner urged fellow Democrats on CNN. "Make it about how you are going to make their lives better right now, in real time."

"If not, this is a foreshadowing of what is going to happen. We can run, but we definitely cannot hide," she warned.

New Jersey race too close to call

Incumbent New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's (l.) race against Republican Jack Ciattarelli remains too close to call.
Incumbent New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy's (l.) race against Republican Jack Ciattarelli remains too close to call.  © Collage: IMAGO / UPI Photo & Screenshot/Facebook/Jack Ciattarelli

New Jersey is also holding gubernatorial elections, with Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy taking on Republican Jack Ciattarelli, who, unlike Youngkin, has not received Trump's endorsement.

Biden won New Jersey by 15 points in 2020, but now Murphy and Ciattarelli are neck and neck in the tally.

Results from early Wednesday morning showed Ciattarelli up by less than one percentage point, with some ballots, including many provisional and mail-in ballots, still left to be counted, CBS reported.

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"We’re going to wait for every vote to be counted, and that’s how our democracy works," Murphy announced at an Election Night event.

"I wanted to come out here tonight because I’d prepared one hell of a victory speech. I wanted to come out here tonight and tell you that we had won, but I’m here to tell you that we’re winning. We’re winning," Ciattarelli said.

Both candidates have the option to call for a recount as long as they do so within 17 days of Election Day.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire & IMAGO / UPI Photo

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