It’s down to the wire in Virginia governors race and each party is pulling out all the stops in hopes of pushing their man over the top. Virginia GOP candidate Ken Cuccinelli, spent Monday campaigning with Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and ended the day with his final campaign rally with former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a hero of the libertarian wing of the GOP.
Meanwhile, Democratic candidate and front runner Terry McAuliffe campaigned Monday with Vice President Joe Biden a day after President Barack Obama weighed in, throwing national Democrats’ full backing into the race. As this big race winds down after some intense campaigning on both sides.
McAuliffe and Cuccinelli are both looking to make today’s election for governor into a referendum on President Barack Obama’s health overhaul.
As the acrimonious campaign headed toward its end, the national health care law seems to be the major fault line for both candidates. It seems that the state is split with the northern Virginia voting heavily with McAuliffe, while the more rural parts of the state are in the Cuccinelli camp. The election could be decided by the women vote and they are almost 4 to 1 in favor of McAuliffe.
Seeking an upset, Cuccinelli pledged to continue his fight against the Democrats’ national health care law. As Virginia’s attorney general, he was the first to file a lawsuit trying to declare it unconstitutional. While the Supreme Court rejected his argument, he has not stopped his crusade against it.
Rubio, a rising star in the GOP and potential 2016 presidential contender, campaigned with Cuccinelli during the day. An evening rally in Richmond included Paul, a favorite of the libertarian wing of his party whose endorsement could bring along voters who had sided with third-party candidate Robert Sarvis.
McAuliffe has embraced the law and has pledged to use it to expand Medicaid in the state to provide health coverage for 400,000 Virginians. The federal government picks up the entire tab for expansion in the first few years, with the state picking up a portion of it in later years.
Cuccinelli says that is going to blow a huge hole in the state’s budget and binds future governors.
“No more Obamacare in Virginia,” Cuccinelli said Sunday. “That’s the message we can send.”
McAuliffe says the Medicaid expansion keeps Virginia tax dollars closer to home. He says the alternative is for Virginians to pick up the Medicaid coverage for other states.
In advertising, direct mail and phone calls, the health care law is the top issue both candidates are pushing.
As one of just two gubernatorial races in the nation, the results of Tuesday’s vote could hold clues about voter attitudes and both parties’ messages heading into the 2014 midterm elections when control of Congress will be at stake. Democrats see Virginia as a test case for other competitive states and are eager for a win there to show their approach to governing is resonating with voters.
Polls show McAuliffe ahead and campaign finance reports show a dramatically lopsided dynamic, with television airtime tilted in McAuliffe’s favor by a 10-to-1 margin.
That has led Cuccinelli to focus on reaching conservative voters almost exclusively. He uses his campaign stops to energize his own backers, many of whom disapprove of the president and detest his health care law.
The state Board of Elections chief says turnout could be as low as 30 percent of registered voters and the campaigns see 40 percent turnout as the goal.
“If mainstream Virginians from both parties don’t turn out to vote,” McAuliffe said Sunday, “you’re letting the tea party decide Virginia’s future.”