Leading Democrats, including former President Barack Obama, are rushing to Virginia in an 11th hour attempt to bolster Terry McAuliffe in a neck-and-neck race for governor.
Mr McAuliffe, who has led the majority of the polls against GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin for months, will take the stage with several big names in the two weeks remaining before election day.
“For Terry to win, he will have to build the largest people’s army in the history of politics in Virginia. He can do it, but he needs our help, ”read a campaign email signed by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Despite the power of the stars, some experts suggest the last-minute boost may be a sign of trouble when compared to past election cycles.
J. Miles Coleman of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia cited a 2009 campaign appearance by Mr. Obama for former New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, who ultimately lost to Republican Chris Christie.
“They wouldn’t bring out the big hitters unless they needed to,” said Coleman. “I have seen many struggling campaigns take this route.
Mr McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, will appear with First Lady Jill Biden in Henrico County on Friday evening, less than a week before Mr Obama holds a rally for the candidate in Richmond.
The Democrat will also campaign with Ms Abrams and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms and participate in a fundraiser with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“It’s going to be a lot of excitement,” McAuliffe said on MSNBC after announcing the roster. “The stakes are so high. People don’t understand. They come out during the presidential years, but they have to come out during this slack year. “
The McAuliffe campaign posted a series of fundraising emails signed by various top Democrats writing on its behalf.
Among those the campaign cited in their emails include Senators Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tim Kaine of Virginia, Democratic consultant James Carville and singer-songwriter Carole King.
Mr McAuliffe also said President Biden would return to pick him up before election day, although the White House has not confirmed such an event.
The president had previously campaigned for Mr. McAuliffe in July in Arlington, just outside Washington.
The Youngkin campaign has responded to upcoming appearances by suggesting their opponent is afraid of losing down the home stretch.
“Terry McAuliffe is scared because Virginians categorically reject 40-year-old politician Terry McAuliffe’s plans to fund the police, deny parents the right to have a say in their children’s education and fire them. people who don’t follow its authoritarian vaccine mandates, ”said Youngkin campaign spokeswoman Macaulay Porter.
“So her response is to bring in more politicians to help attract a crowd of over 12 people,” she said.
Ms. Porter added that her nominee is “an outsider focused on providing service to the people of Virginia and making the state the best place to live, work and raise a family.”
Polls indicate the race is close, with Mr. Youngkin even leading, though not significantly, in some polls released over the past month.
A CBS News / YouGov poll conducted Oct. 4-11 had Mr McAuliffe with 50% support versus 47% for Mr Youngkin.
The poll questioned 1,040 probable voters and had a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points, an amount greater than Mr McAuliffe’s 3-point advantage, making the poll a statistical tie.
Mr Youngkin was also in offense mode last month because of Mr McAuliffe’s comments regarding parents’ contribution to education.
Mr McAuliffe said in a debate that “I don’t think parents should tell schools what to teach,” a quote Mr Youngkin used in several campaign ads.
Some analysts have also suggested that the ongoing struggle on Capitol Hill over two major spending bills could also play a role in the race for governor, if Mr Biden and the Democrats cannot keep their promises regarding the extension of social programs and infrastructure.
Mr Coleman added that last-minute stumping might be a luxury Republicans do not have due to the unpopularity of former President Donald Trump in Virginia.
But Mr McAuliffe’s decision could more broadly point to some level of anxiety in the campaign.
“They could just go all out anyway, but that, coupled with tight polls, makes it look like they might have to,” Coleman said.
Early voting is currently underway. Election day is November 2.
The McAuliffe campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.