Jill Biden's Virginia Visit Begins Flood of Top Democrats to Support Terry McAuliffe

First lady Jill Biden is expected to appear at a campaign event in support of Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe on Friday evening, kicking off a handful of appearances from top Democrats with just over two weeks remaining until the state's November 2 election.

McAuliffe announced the first lady's plans to campaign with him earlier this week. The event she is scheduled to attend begins around 5:30 p.m. local time at the Dorey Park and Recreation Center in Henrico, according to McAuliffe's campaign. The first lady and McAuliffe will "mobilize Democrats during early voting," according to an event description from the campaign.

Virginia is one of only two states with regularly scheduled gubernatorial elections this fall, with voters in New Jersey also slated to pick their next governor in early November. The Virginia election, which recent polling indicates is shaping up to be a tight race between McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin, has been identified by political strategists as a likely indicator of how voters are leaning ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Terry McAuliffe top Democrats
Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe is expected to be joined by several top Democrats over the next two weeks ahead of his state's election on November 2. Above, McAuliffe shows off his "I Voted" sticker after casting his ballot during early voting at the Fairfax County Government Center on October 13, 2021, in Fairfax. Win McNamee/Getty Images

Last month, a gubernatorial recall election in California pulled in several top Democrats to campaign in support of Governor Gavin Newsom. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were among those who traveled to the state to attend campaign events with Newsom, while former President Barack Obama and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders were among those who participated in campaign ads encouraging Democrats to vote.

As Newsom did in California, McAuliffe has also gained support from several high-profile members of his party. After the first lady's Friday visit, former Georgia state Representative Stacey Abrams will participate in a Souls to the Polls event in Virginia on October 17. Obama is expected to make a trip to Richmond to campaign with McAuliffe on October 23.

McAuliffe told reporters earlier this week that he also expects the president to make a stop in Virginia in support of his campaign before the election, according to The Hill. When asked for more information about the president's plans to support McAuliffe on Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said, "I expect he'll do more to help his friend," but added she did not have further details.

McAuliffe has served one prior term as governor from 2014 through 2018 in Virginia, where governors are prohibited from serving consecutive terms in office. Before launching his own gubernatorial campaign, Youngkin worked as the co-CEO of the private equity firm The Carlyle Group before retiring last year.

When asked for comment about the Democrats traveling to Virginia in support of McAuliffe's campaign, a spokesperson for Youngkin's campaign told Newsweek that the Democrat is "scared."

"Terry McAuliffe is scared because Virginians are roundly rejecting 40-year politician Terry McAuliffe's plans to defund the police, strip parents of their rights to have a say in their children's education, and to fire people who don't follow his authoritarian vaccine mandates, so his response is to bring in more politicians to help draw a crowd larger than 12 people," Youngkin campaign spokesperson Macaulay Porter said.

"Glenn Youngkin is an outsider focused on delivering for the people of Virginia and making the state the best place to live, work, and raise a family."

Voters in Virginia will pick their state's next governor during the gubernatorial election on November 2. According to polling averages compiled by FiveThirtyEight, the race is close with just over two weeks remaining until the election, with McAuliffe holding a lead of about 3 points as of October 15.