During Tuesday’s Virginia gubernatorial debate in Alexandria, former Democratic Gov. Terence McAuliffe – vying for his second nonconsecutive term – proclaimed “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision.”
That comment will become his “Basket of Deplorables” moment in a key off-year race in a purple-trending-toward-blue state, said “The Five” panelist Dagen McDowell – as McAuliffe faces Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin of Falls Church
McDowell, who hails from Campbell County in southside Virginia, said that education in the Commonwealth is not a left-or-right issue.
“This might be the Basket of Deplorable’s moment for Terry McAuliffe,” she said – in reference to how Hillary Clinton ultimately turned off a swath of voters by proclaiming during a 2016 event in New York that many of Donald Trump’s supporters belong in a “Basket of Deplorables”.
“I’m from the side [of Virginia] that is all-red,” McDowell said. “[But] this is not a Democrat versus Republican issue. It is not left versus right. It’s all [about] parents.”
She said McAuliffe, who served four years in Richmond and preceded incumbent Democrat Ralph S. Northam, is “firmly snuggling up with the teachers’ unions.”
“He is giving carte blanche to teachers and their unions to — parents cannot stand up for what their kids are learning in schools,” she said.
McDowell recalled that McAuliffe previously vetoed three school choice bills from what was then a Republican-majority state legislature.
As of late, the Commonwealth has trended more and more Democratic – bolstered in part by the burgeoning population in the Beltway area counties like Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun.
Meanwhile, much of the other 500 miles from there to the Cumberland Gap is much more conservative – save for blue cities like Roanoke, Richmond, Charlottesville and Norfolk.
While McAuliffe, a former DNC chair and Clinton confidant, is seeking his second term – as Virginia governors are limited to one consecutive term – Youngkin is a political newcomer who is retired from the Carlyle Group, and the winner must likely strike the delicate balance between the moderate-to-liberal voters in the DC suburbs – and the fervently pro-Trump base down the I-81 and US-29 corridors.
The last Republican to hold the governor’s seat was Robert F. McDonnell – who preceded McAuliffe’s last term.