Virginia candidates for governor come out swinging in WTOP interviews

Now that Virginia’s Republican convention and Democratic primary are done, the candidates running for governor are looking ahead to the general election in November, and they both attacked each other during interviews on WTOP Thursday morning.

Former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe called his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, “an extreme right-winger.”

“He wants to ban abortions and he wants to put more guns on the street,” McAuliffe said. “Glenn Youngkin doesn’t have any policies except for one — election integrity, which is the Donald Trump conspiracy about the 2020 election.”

Youngkin responded to that claim.

“The only thing that Terry can talk about is trying to divide us,” Youngkin said. “I believe we have to invest in our election process to make sure that Virginians trust it.”

Pressed on the issue of whether he believed the conspiracy theory that the presidential election was stolen from Trump, Youngkin said, “I actually have said that Joe Biden was legitimately elected president.”

While McAuliffe became the nominee after Tuesday’s Democratic primary, Youngkin was chosen as the Republican candidate during a party convention in May. Republicans are hoping to break their more than decade-long losing streak in statewide races.

Youngkin, a wealthy former executive of global investment firm The Carlyle Group, has described McAuliffe as a “recycled political insider.”

McAuliffe was governor from 2014 to 2018.

“Republicans, independents and Democrats are excited about a political outsider,” Youngkin told WTOP. “That’s what Virginians are ready for right now.”

Youngkin said he wants to focus on job creation, excellence in schools and addressing the rising homicide rate in Virginia. An annual report from state police showed that homicides were up by about 23.4% last year when compared to 2019.

McAuliffe has focused his campaign on Virginia’s lagging teacher pay and inequities in education funding. He’s also pledged to work to accelerate Virginia’s minimum wage increase to $15 by 2024, protect abortion access and ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

“I created a record amount of new jobs,” McAuliffe said of his previous time in office. “People were happy and we’ve got to do it again now.”

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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