Susan Swecker, Virginia Democratic Party chairwoman, isn’t afraid to admit it’s been a tight race between Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe as the two candidates vie to be the next governor.
“We always knew it was going to be a tough, close race,” she said. “We never have anything easy in Virginia.”
But between early voting reaching record-breaking numbers and a handful of campaign stops made the week before the Nov. 2 general election, Swecker said she is listening to her gut instinct that Virginia will reelect McAuliffe, as well as Democrats Mark Herring and Hala Ayala as attorney general and lieutenant governor, respectively.
Swecker’s hopefulness has also been heightened in the last two days as she joined Ayala and former first lady of Virginia Dorothy McAuliffe on a bus tour across Southwest Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley.
“The crowds are big. People have turned out,” she said.
On Tuesday, the bus tour made a stop at the Harrisonburg and Rockingham County Democrats office off West Market Street, and was greeted by nearly 50 people, including elected officials and candidates running for the House of Delegates.
As Democratic supporters gathered to hear from Ayala, Dorothy McAuliffe and Swecker, Harrisonburg Democratic Committee Chair Alleyn Harned reminded everyone to take advantage of early voting or to vote on Election Day.
“This, as every election is, is an important election in Virginia,” he said.
With the gubernatorial election being a tight race, it is important city and county voters cast their ballot, Harrisonburg Mayor Deanna Reed said.
“We can’t sit this one out,” she said. “Let’s do our job. Let’s make sure we are still knocking on doors.”
Swecker said she has seen a lot of enthusiasm from those attending the bus tour’s meet-and-greet, and while turnout has been fairly large, she stressed why Democratic support is needed.
During Tuesday’s event, Swecker told the crowd she understood that a year ago, voters were told the presidential election was the most important election of their lifetime.
“That was absolute truth,” she said. “But here in Virginia, right now, this is the most important election.”
Swecker said “everything is at stake” in Virginia, and a vote for Youngkin is a vote to go backward for Virginians.
“Truly democracy is on the ballot, and all the progress we have made as Democrats in Virginia over these last years, it could be gone in one election,” she said.
If Youngkin were elected, Swecker said, he will work to defund Planned Parenthood, create an election integrity task force and continue to undermine democracy.
Swecker also said former President Donald Trump endorsed Youngkin six times and claimed Youngkin will do what Trump wants him to do as governor if elected.
“The choice is very simple — we either move forward and continue to lift all Virginians up and continue to make Virginia a welcoming and open place for people to live and raise a family, or we go back,” she said.
In the last two decades Republicans held control in the General Assembly, schools, public health and “systems across the board” were underfunded, Ayala said. With Democrats in control, Virginia went from being No. 49 in the United States for voting turnout to No. 12, as well as becoming No. 23 in the nation for workers and families, she said.
“None of this could have been possible without Democrats,” she said. “In 2017, we had that blue wave. This year, we are going to have a tsunami.”
With six days left until the general election, Dorothy McAuliffe noted Virginians still have time to vote early.
“We want to take full advantage of that, and that’s really what our message is on this bus tour,” she said.
According to the Virginia Public Access Project, nearly 725,000 people have voted early as of Monday. The last day to vote early in-person is Saturday.