RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The nation’s astir intimately watched off-year predetermination wrapped up Tuesday successful Virginia, wherever voters chose betwixt Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin successful a run that became partially a referendum connected President Joe Biden’s archetypal twelvemonth successful office.
Barely 12 months aft Biden captured the authorities by 10 points, the governor’s contention was expected to beryllium a comfy triumph for Democrats. Instead, McAuliffe, a salient fig successful Democratic authorities and a erstwhile Virginia governor, was locked successful a dormant vigor with erstwhile concern enforcement Youngkin as helium tried to reclaim the post.
The bruising run centered connected issues including Youngkin’s ties to erstwhile President Donald Trump, the aboriginal of abortion rights and civilization warfare battles implicit schools. But voters saw the system arsenic the apical issue, followed by the coronavirus pandemic, according to AP VoteCast, a survey of statewide voters.
Some 34% of Virginia voters ranked the system arsenic their No. 1 priority, compared to 17% saying COVID-19 and 14% choosing education. Those issues outranked wellness care, clime change, racism and termination successful the survey.
The last results, though, whitethorn yet beryllium interpreted arsenic an aboriginal judgement of Biden. The closeness of the contention indicated conscionable however overmuch his governmental fortunes person changed successful a abbreviated period. The White House has been shaken successful caller months by the chaotic withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, a sometimes sluggish economical betterment amid the pandemic and a legislative docket astatine hazard of stalling connected Capitol Hill.
A nonaccomplishment successful a authorities that has trended toward Democrats for much than a decennary would deepen the consciousness of alarm wrong the party heading into adjacent year’s midterm elections, erstwhile power of Congress is astatine stake.
“I deliberation we’re going to triumph successful Virginia,” Biden said astatine a quality league successful Scotland, wherever helium was attending an planetary clime summit. But helium besides acknowledged that the contention was precise adjacent and “the off-year is ever unpredictable.”
Tuesday’s voting besides featured a governor’s contention successful New Jersey, mayoral offices astir the state and a large policing question successful Minneapolis — and Biden downplayed his power successful Virginia oregon anyplace else.
“I don’t judge — and I’ve not seen immoderate grounds that — whether oregon not I americium doing good oregon poorly, whether oregon not I’ve got my docket passed oregon not, is gonna person immoderate existent interaction connected winning oregon losing,” the president said.
Still, some Virginia candidates said the implications of the archetypal large predetermination since Biden moved into the White House would beryllium felt good beyond their state.
At 1 of his last events of the run connected Monday, McAuliffe insisted “the stakes are huge.” Youngkin said the predetermination would nonstop a “statement that volition beryllium heard crossed this country.”
Voting proceeded mostly without incidental crossed Virginia. McAuliffe and Youngkin were mostly retired of show up of predetermination nighttime parties planned successful the captious bluish Virginia suburbs that each run was counting on.
In Norfolk, 29-year-old Cassandra Ogren said she voted for McAuliffe successful portion due to the fact that of his enactment for termination rights and her interest astir restrictions precocious enacted successful Texas, wherever a caller instrumentality mostly bans the procedure. But she was besides motivated by Younkin’s ties to Trump.
“Anyone endorsed by President Trump is not idiosyncratic I privation representing me,” Ogren said.
School issues being important to galore voters, meanwhile, could beryllium bully quality for Youngkin. His pledge to guarantee parents person greater accidental successful what their kids are taught was a centerpiece of his run — perchance foreshadowing akin arguments GOP candidates volition usage crossed the state adjacent year.
Youngkin has decried schoolhouse efforts to thatch astir organization racism successful society. That propulsion intensified aft McAuliffe said during a statement that “I don’t deliberation parents should beryllium telling schools what they should teach.”
Bennett White, 24, a Youngkin elector successful Norfolk, said helium didn’t privation “our adjacent procreation of leaders to beryllium looking astatine their peers successful the lens of race.”
“I conscionable privation to marque definite that my ma is harmless successful the classroom,” said White whose parent is simply a teacher, “and that her ideals and everyone’s ideals are protected, and we’re not turning into brainwashing academies.”
Elsewhere connected Tuesday, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was trying to triumph reelection against Republican erstwhile State Assembly subordinate Jack Ciattarelli. If successful, Murphy would beryllium the archetypal Democrat reelected arsenic the state’s politician successful 44 years.
A ballot question successful Minneapolis could reshape policing successful that city, wherever the sidesplitting of George Floyd past twelvemonth touched disconnected sweeping demonstrations for radical justness crossed the nation.
But nary different contention received the level of attraction of the Virginia’s governor’s campaign. That’s successful portion due to the fact that erstwhile contests successful galore states person sometimes foreshadowed elector vexation with a enactment recently successful power.
In 2009, during President Barack Obama’s archetypal twelvemonth successful office, Republican Bob McDonnell’s triumph successful Virginia previewed a disastrous midterm rhythm for Democrats, who mislaid much than 60 House seats the pursuing year.
But McAuliffe won the governorship successful 2013, a twelvemonth aft Obama was reelected, marking the lone clip the authorities has picked a politician from the sitting president’s enactment since 1976. He’s trying to repetition that feat connected Tuesday.
Associated Press writers Ben Finley successful Norfolk, Virginia, Hank Kurz successful Richmond, Virginia, and Jill Colvin successful New York contributed to this report.