Terry McAuliffe will launch his first statewide television ad this week as his race for Virginia governor against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II enters a crucial new phase.

The Democrat’s spot will premiere Thursday, just three days after Cuccinelli (R) unveiled his first commercial. Both men and outside groups are expected to flood Virginia’s airwaves through November because the contest for the commonwealth’s top job is likely to be the nation’s lone competitive 2013 contest.

“I’m the youngest of four boys, and when I was 14, I saw a chance to literally pave the way to my future, and I started a business paving driveways. That helped me pay for college,” McAuliffe says in his ad as old family photos and home movies flash across the screen.

“My wife, Dorothy, and I have lived in Virginia for over 20 years, and here we’ve raised five children of our own,” McAuliffe continues. “I know nothing is more important to Virginians than creating good jobs that can support a family. That will be my focus every day.”

McAuliffe narrates his ad, while Cuccinelli’s features his wife, Teiro Cuccinelli, and both spots place a heavy emphasis on family. McAuliffe’s commercial also stresses the importance of creating jobs, while Cuccinelli’s appears aimed at showing a softer side.

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Terry McAuliffe, left, and state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) (Bob Brown, Steve Helber/Associated Press)

The dueling ads come as both men cope with controversy. Cuccinelli has been scrambling to explain his personal relationship with Star Scientific chief executive Jonnie R. Williams Sr. and his office’s handling of legal issues related to the dietary supplement firm. And McAuliffe continues to draw negative press over his ties to the electric car firm GreenTech.