Terry McAuliffe Wins Democratic Nomination for Governor in Virginia
The results also marked a moment of vindication for Mr. Northam, underscoring his political recovery in a party whose leaders, including Mr. McAuliffe, once called for his resignation. And the outcome was even sweeter for Mr. McAuliffe, who deferred his presidential ambitions to Mr. Biden, for now at least, to try to reclaim the governorship four years after leaving Richmond with some of his plans stymied by a statehouse then controlled by Republicans.
The exuberant former fund-raiser and national party chair could barely conceal his glee before Tuesday, as he barnstormed Virginia in the days leading up to the primary by ignoring his Democratic opponents, lacerating Mr. Youngkin and going viral with dance moves that were more enthusiastic than artful.
Mr. McAuliffe’s easy victory also highlighted the enduring strength of the Democrats’ moderate wing in a state that has turned a deeper shade of blue in the last decade. The former governor’s opponents, particularly Jennifer Carroll Foy and Lee Carter, ran to his left, arguing that a 64-year-old wealthy white man with pro-business inclinations was out of step with the party. Three of Mr. McAuliffe’s primary rivals are Black: Ms. Carroll Foy, Jennifer McClellan, a state senator, and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.
With Mr. Trump refusing to acknowledge defeat and the country only recently starting to fully emerge from the pandemic, though, the primary was obscured and Mr. McAuliffe’s rivals were starved of political oxygen. The once and potentially future governor also helped himself by claiming early and broad support from the state’s Democratic establishment, including a number of leaders in the Black community. And with all four of the other candidates remaining in the race to the end, none of them were able to coalesce what opposition there was to Mr. McAuliffe.
His rivals hoped the contest would mirror the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, when former President Barack Obama emerged as the next-generation hope of the party and defeated the standard-bearer of the old guard, Hillary Clinton, whose campaign Mr. McAuliffe chaired. But this primary more closely approximated last year’s presidential primary, when a coalition of moderate whites and Black Democrats rallied to the moderate candidate they knew.
“Terry is a little more experienced,” said John Eley III, a McAuliffe supporter and member of the Newport News School Board. “Coming out of the pandemic you really need someone with experience to take us forward and continue to move Virginia in the right direction.”