One week from Election Day in Virginia, candidates deliver closing message on bus tours

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)-A closely-watched election season in Virginia is in its final stretch. 

With Election Day just one week away, top candidates are criss-crossing the state on bus tours to deliver their closing message to voters. 

Glenn Youngkin, the GOP nominee for governor, made a series of stops on Tuesday beginning with an event in McKenney alongside the party’s pick for lieutenant governor, Winsome Sears. At Flat Rock Country Store, Youngkin made the case for suspending the most recent gas tax increase for twelve months while pumping fuel for voters. 

It’s just one component of Youngkin’s sweeping plan to cut taxes and business regulations, which are expected to face an uphill battle in a Democrat-controlled state Senate. Control of the House of Delegates is currently up for grabs.

“This is the moment to get the cost-of-living down so people stop moving away from Virginia,” Youngkin said. “We’re going to get rid of the grocery tax. We’re going to double everybody’s standard deduction. We’re gonna declare the largest tax rebate in Virginia history.”

Youngkin has often accused his Democratic opponent, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, of wanting to raise taxes on Virginians. 

While McAuliffe hasn’t committed to tax cuts, his campaign has previously ruled out future tax increases. A spokesperson confirmed that statement in a text on Tuesday. 

Echoing a broader push for parental choice in education, Youngkin slammed McAulliffe for vetoing a bill during his previous term as governor that would’ve allowed parents to opt their students out of reading books with sexually explicit content. 

“There is a fundamental right in Virginia to be engaged in your child’s education and Terry McAuliffe just doesn’t believe in it,” Youngkin said. 

Youngkin’s campaign released a new ad this week featuring a mother who advocated for the change and a local ban on the book “Beloved” by Toni Morrison after she said it gave her son nightmares.

Democrats have called the ad a “racist dog whistle,” accusing Youngkin of trying to silence Black authors.

Youngkin’s spokesperson clarified that he is not advocating for banning the book. 

As McAuliffe prepared for a rally on Tuesday with President Joe Biden in northern Virginia, former First Lady Dorothy McAulliffe was campaigning on his behalf in the southwest. She made a stop in Roanoke alongside Del. Hala Ayala, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor, and Virginia’s Democratic Party Chair Susan Swecker.

McAuliffe focused on her husband’s dedication to increasing education funding and raising teacher pay.

“What drives us is making sure every child has the best quality education no matter where they live,” she said. 

Ayala highlighted her party’s recent victories, including making it easier to vote, eliminating some abortion restrictions, expanding Medicaid, ending the death penalty and legalizing marijuana. 

“All of this happened under the Democratic majority,” Ayala said. “Vote like all of these measures are on the line because they are.”

Virginians have until Saturday, Oct. 30 to vote early, in-person. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2.

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