Vice President Kamala Harris on Friday warned that a win by Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin in Virginia’s gubernatorial election could doom Democrats in the 2022 congressional midterms and even the 2024 general election.
Harris gave the frank analysis, which is likely to be cited often by Republicans if Youngkin does win, while campaigning for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe in Norfolk, Va.
“What happens in Virginia will in large part determine what happens in 2022, 2024 and on,” Harris said during a 16-minute stump speech.
“You gonna bring this home, right? Yes you are,” Harris told the crowd, warning them that “Tuesday is a critical day that will determine whether we either turn back the clock or move it forward.”
Harris made the stop as polls show a tight race ahead of the Tuesday election. But the day’s campaigning was overshadowed by McAuliffe backers associated with the scandal-plagued Lincoln Project impersonating tiki-torch bearing white supremacists in an apparent bid to smear Youngkin’s campaign.
Neither Harris nor McAuliffe mentioned outrage over the stunt, which Democrats initially portrayed as a genuine show of support for Youngkin by extremists invoking the infamous 2017 racial clashes in Charlottesville.
“Happy” singer Pharrell Williams joined Harris and McAuliffe at the Friday rally.
But Pharrell’s own stump speech was less convincing. The musician urged people to support McAuliffe, but introduced to him as “the former governor and maybe the governor-to-be-again.”
McAuliffe faces a stiff challenge from Youngkin in the state that President Biden won last year by a comfortable 10-point margin. The candidates are essentially tied in most polls, but Youngkin was ahead by 8 points in a Fox News survey released Thursday.
Although McAuliffe didn’t address the day’s major controversy involving five people dressed up as neo-Confederate Youngkin supporters, he did cite the 2017 clashes during his remarks Friday night.
“I told these white supremacists and neo-Nazis to get the hell out of Virginia, leave our state and don’t you ever come back to Virginia!” McAuliffe said, referring to the fact that he was previously the state’s governor from 2014-2018.
“Politicians have encouraged it. Even after that and even after the Jan. 6 insurrection, Glenn Younkin said that Donald Trump represents so much of why he was running for governor. Folks, Virginia, we are so much better than the politics of hatred.”
The 2017 clashes in Charlottesville erupted over the proposed removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E,. Lee and culminated in the vehicular murder of an anti-racism activist by an alleged neo-Nazi.
On Friday, the five people dressed as participants in the violence greeted a Youngkin campaign bus in Charlottesville and chanted, “We’re all in for Glenn!”
Their visually jarring action was initially misinterpreted on social media as a genuine expression of support for the Republican. But after internet sleuths alleged that the people were actually Democrats, the Lincoln Project said that it had staged the stunt.
Andrew Whitley, executive director of the Virginia Democratic Party, insisted in a statement that the party and its affiliates had nothing to do with the faux-racism.
McAuliffe is a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee and a longtime lieutenant of the Clinton family. Youngkin is a businessman and former CEO of the Carlyle Group who has not held elected office.
Democrats have reason to worry about the outcome of the election. In 2009, Republican candidates won the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races in a significant blow to President Barack Obama during his first year in office. The wins gave Republicans momentum and they flipped control of the House in 2010, blocking Obama’s legislative agenda.