Terry McAuliffe (D) and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) squared off Thursday night in the final televised debate of the Virginia gubernatorial campaign. With less than two weeks until voters go to the polls, the debate gave the candidates a high-profile opportunity to reach voters. Follow our live updates here.
Ben Pershing shared this look inside the press filing room at tonight’s debate:
— Ben Pershing (@benpershing) October 24, 2013
With the governor’s race entering the final two-week stretch, Kevin Cuccinelli II is focusing his attention — and money — on his base:
Rather than aiming for the moderates who have transformed the political landscape in recent elections, Cuccinelli is increasingly focused on shoring up his conservative base at a time when all recent polls show him lagging behind Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
Cuccinelli, the Republican attorney general, has dialed back his ad spending in liberal-leaning Northern Virginia in comparison with other regions of the state. And after months of seeming to avoid talking about some of his more conservative positions, he has returned to fiery rhetoric in recent appearances.
Head here for more.
Purple PAC — a group devoted to backing candidates who are “‘red’ when it comes to economic policy, ‘blue’ when it comes to social policy” — launched a six-figure television ad buy Thursday designed to boost Sarvis’s campaign by painting him as a more appealing choice than Cuccinelli (R) or McAuliffe (D). The ad push begins the same day Cuccinelli and McAuliffe will square off in the final debate of the race, a session Sarvis will miss because he did not meet the polling threshold set by the other candidates and the debate’s sponsor.
Make sure you take note of this tidbit in that story, which could impact multiple races over the next several years:
If Sarvis gets 10 percent or more of the vote in the governor’s race, then Libertarian candidates would gain ballot access for state and local offices — but not federal races — through 2021, according to the State Board of Elections.
You can learn more about Sarvis here.
Looking for other resources to keep tabs on while you’re watching tonight’s debate? Obviously this liveblog is one such spot, and you should keep this blog open throughout the debate and after for analysis, highlights and other goodies.
In addition, here are some Twitter accounts to watch tonight.
Terry McAuliffe, in his opening remarks at tonight’s debate, says the debate comes down to one question: “Who will work with both parties to focus on jobs and education?
Citing his support from Republicans and Democrats alike, McAuliffe said he would assemble a responsible coalition to lead the state.
But McAuliffe quickly turned his attention to his opponent, decrying Cuccinelli’s campaign tactics and history.
“As this campaign has gone on, my opponent has become increasingly desperate,” he said.
In his opening remarks, which followed McAuliffe’s opening onslaught, Ken Cuccinelli II immediately went on the attack against his opponent.
“Some people run to do something, and some people run to be something,” Cuccinelli said.
Cuccinelli quickly invoked his opposition to the health-care overhaul, tying McAuliffe to the expansion and the well-publicized faulty rollout of Healthcare.gov.
An initial question about paying for their plans resulted in a quick back-and-forth between Cuccinelli and McAuliffe over their plans — and how they are framing one another’s plans.
“His plan is a fiscal disaster for the commonwealth of Virginia,” McAuliffe said of his opponent.
Cuccinelli, in his response, linked McAuliffe to government overspending.
“I’ve explained how I’d pay for my proposals,” he said.
His campaign was quick to post a related tweet:
You can't make magic money out of the Federal Government like Terry would like to #vagovdebate
— Ken Cuccinelli (@KenCuccinelli) October 24, 2013
The next question focused on standardized testing. Cuccinelli spoke of reforming, not eliminating, the state’s Standards of Learning exams. McAuliffe followed by citing problems with the standardized exams, similarly talked about the importance of education while saying testing could be improved.