Stacey Abrams, Jaime Harrison join Terry McAuliffe on Downtown Mall to mobilize Charlottesville voters – The Cavalier Daily

Terry McAuliffe, former Virginia Governor and Democratic gubernatorial nominee, spent time in Charlottesville for a

Terry McAuliffe, former Virginia Governor and Democratic gubernatorial nominee, spent time in Charlottesville for a Get Out the Vote event Saturday. Jaime Harrison, chairperson of the Democratic National Committee and Stacey Abrams, former Georgia Congressperson and founder of Fair Fight Action, joined McAuliffe for the event, which included speeches from all three politicians, as well as a solo acoustic performance and endorsement by musician Dave Matthews. 

The event was a stop on a larger tour throughout the state that began in Arlington Oct. 22 aimed at encouraging voter turnout in the final 11 days before the election. 

The event comes amidst a tightening race between McAuliffe and his Republican opponent  Glenn Youngkin, with the RealClearPolitics polling average showing Youngkin with 47.2 percent support to McAuliffe’s 48.8 percent. This is down from the 5.5 percent lead that McAuliffe had in mid-August. FiveThirtyEight, another polling aggregator, puts McAuliffe ahead 2.5 percent, with his 48.3 percent ahead of Youngkin’s 45.9.

Harrison gained notoriety for his ultimately unsuccessful challenge of South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham in 2020. He currently serves as the chairperson of the Democratic National Committee. 

Abrams, a rising star within the Democratic Party and founder of voting rights advocacy organization Fair Fight Action, came to national attention during her 2018 run for governor of Georgia that ended in a narrow defeat. 

Admission began at 11 a.m. at the Ting Pavilion on the Downtown Mall. Eager attendees included Democratic voters, Dave Matthews fans and masked-up schoolchildren, who were queued before the event in a line stretching from City Hall to Timberlake Drugs Store. Seated towards the front of the venue was a group sporting t-shirts from University Democrats.

Harrison was the first to speak to the full crowd, noting the DNC’s investment in the Virginia race and its importance to the rest of the party’s fate. The gubernatorial race in Virginia has drawn national headlines as both Republicans and Democrats look to the state as a case study of where the electorate stands, as well as an early referendum on President Joe Biden’s presidency. 

The race’s popularity has caused big names — such as former President Barack Obama, former President Donald Trump and Vice President Kamala Harris — to throw their weight behind preferred candidates. Trump called in to a conservative rally earlier this month to praise Youngkin.

Harrison also spoke against Youngkin, calling him “extreme” and a “fanboy for Donald Trump.” Linking Youngkin to Trump was a constant theme throughout many of the speakers, despite Trump’s absence from any current governing position. 

“Virginia needs leaders who mean what they say and who are committed to protecting the rights of all Virginians,” Harrison said. “Virginia needs leaders who deliver. That’s why the DNC has invested a record five million to elect Democrats up and down the ballot.”

McAuliffe’s speech continued to compare his Republican opponent to former President Trump, telling the crowd we need a “real governor” rather than “a lapdog for Donald Trump” in the governor’s mansion. McAuliffe also articulated his support for reproductive rights, clean energy, high quality education, criminal justice reform and guaranteeing a $15 minimum wage by 2024. 

Abrams was welcomed with the biggest cheers of anyone on stage, receiving a standing ovation at both the opening and closing of her speech. Abrams focused on the progress made shifting Virginia — a state that has flipped from dependably Republican to electing Democrats statewide in the last two decades — and Georgia more blue.  

Stacey Abrams, former Georgia Congressperson and founder of voting rights advocacy organization Fair Fight Action, joined McAuliffe for the event.

“I know Virginia and Georgia are yoked together,” Abrams said. “What you all do here over the next nine days will determine the next four years for this country. It will determine the next decade of rights and opportunity, or it will signal that we are going backwards.”

Virginia is only one of a handful of states that selects its governor in an off-year, meaning the electorate votes for governor in a year that does not coincide with a major election, especially a presidential election. This year, the only other state to hold a gubernatorial election is New Jersey. Since the ratification of Virginia’s second state constitution in 1830, Virginia is also the only state to prohibit incumbent governors from running for immediate re-election. Former governors, such as McAuliffe, are permitted to run for non-consecutive terms.