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McAuliffe, Herring, Ayala secure 2021 Democratic nominations

Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 10:52 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT/AP) - An expected victory, but one nonetheless, Terry McAuliffe will lead the Democratic ticket in Virginia heading into the November election.

“We’ve got to go big. We’ve got to be bold and we need seasoned leadership to move us forward and lift up all Virginians,” said Terry McAuliffe, (D) candidate for Virginia Governor.

[ 2021 Virginia Democratic Primary Election Results ]

Fresh off his primary win, the former governor addressed a crowd of supporters in Northern Virginia Tuesday night. Current Virginia Governor Ralph Northam and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney joined him to unify the party.

“We cannot let the party of no take over again in the Commonwealth of Virginia. We’re where we are today because of the leadership of great Democrats,” said Northam.

McAuliffe beat out four others for the nomination - Del. Lee J. Carter, current Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax, former Del. Jennifer D. Carroll Foy and Sen. Jennifer McClellan.

“I offered my full support as we head for November because we are at a critical crossroads in the commonwealth, and all of us need to do our part to ensure that we are protecting the progress we have made in the last couple of years,” McClellan said at her watch party in Richmond after the race was called for McAuliffe.

McAuliffe held office from 2014 to 2018 but governors in the state are not allowed to run for consecutive terms.

“Tonight we make a statement that we are not going back. We are not going backwards no matter what Republican puppet is elected. We are not going back here in the commonwealth of Virginia,” said Mayor Levar Stoney, (D) Virginia.

On the trail, candidate McAuliffe says, if elected, he would help Virginians bounce back from the pandemic, invest more in education and expand voting rights.

“I promise you, I will fight every single day for you. Every single day I will get out of bed. You will have my total energy,” said McAuliffe.

The race for governor in Virginia is expected to be a closely watched barometer of voter sentiment heading into the midterm elections. Republicans have not won a statewide race in the commonwealth since 2009.

Virginia GOP’s nominee for governor, Glenn Youngkin released the following statement:

“While we differ mightily as to how to best serve Virginians, I want to thank the five contenders in today’s primary for running. I welcome Terry McAuliffe to the race and look forward to presenting our competing ideas for Virginia’s future. Our Commonwealth is less safe than it was 8 years ago, does not provide the economic opportunity that Virginians deserve, and is more expensive for workers and families. Voters from across the political spectrum agree that we need a new kind of leader to bring a new day to Virginia. Get ready, because Terry McAuliffe will default to the same political games he’s played his entire life. I’m confident that voters will not choose a recycled, 40-year political insider and career politician who pretends to be a businessman, who talks big but doesn’t deliver, and who failed Virginians the first time he was governor. I am looking forward and moving beyond the politics of the past to bring people together around our shared values and rebuilding Virginia into the best place in America to live, work, and raise a family. Together we will reignite our economy, restore excellence in our schools, and reestablish our commitment to public safety. I invite every Virginian to join our team.”

Incumbent Mark Herring has won the Democratic nomination in the race for attorney general.

He fended off a challenge from a state lawmaker who sought to cast Herring as insufficiently progressive.

“This primary was a referendum on the progress we have made on civil rights, criminal justice reform, healthcare access, clean air and water, victims’ rights, gun violence prevention, and consumer protection, and voters made it clear that they want to keep the progress going,” said Herring. “The Republicans have nominated yet another far-right, Ken Cuccinelli-wannabe who would abuse the office to try to drag us backward and threaten the progress we’ve made. Virginians deserve to count on their attorney general to fight for them, as the People’s Lawyer. That’s what I’ve done for eight years, and that’s the choice that Virginians will have this fall.”

Herring will face Republican state Del. Jason Miyares in the November general election.

Herring is a former state senator who became attorney general in 2014 and was reelected easily in 2017.

On Tuesday, he defeated Del. Jay Jones of Norfolk.

“Tonight’s result is disappointing, but we will not let it deter us from continuing the fight to bring true reform to Virginia. We must elect leaders who will be proactive, not reactive and rise to meet this moment in our history. As we enter the new Virginia decade, we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. I look forward to working in the House of Delegates to build on the progress we have made towards a Virginia that guarantees justice for every community,” Jones said in a statement in part.

Del. Hala Ayala has won the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.

Ayala represents parts of Prince William County in the legislature and launched her political career in 2017 in response to the election of Donald Trump.

Ayala was the favorite of the Democratic establishment and was endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam.

She defeated Roanoke Del. Sam Rasoul, who had been the preferred candidate of the party’s progressive wing.

She will face Republican Winsome Sears in November.

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