Virginia Gubernatorial Race is a National Bellwether | Opinion

The Virginia governor's race is developing into a clear choice that has real implications for campaigns across the country in 2022.

Last week's debate clarified the dramatic gap between Republican Glenn Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe. It is clear Youngkin stands with parents who care about their children's education, and McAuliffe stands with teachers' union bosses who want total control.

During the debate, McAuliffe made what may be an election-collapsing mistake. He spoke honestly about the degree to which he would exclude parents from their children's educations.

Consider this exchange:

Youngkin: "I believe parents should be in charge of their kids' education."

McAuliffe: "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."

The next night, on Fox News' The Ingraham Angle, Youngkin expanded on the difference between himself and McAuliffe:

[McAuliffe] believes that government and politicians know better for our children than parents. He wants to exclude parents from being involved in educating our children.... Virginia parents have been standing up for the rights of their kids for the last 20 months, fighting against school boards who have been trying to impose all kinds of things on them. They've been asking for schools to be open, and what you saw last night was... [McAuliffe] wants to teach our children how to think, and he wants to excuse parents from all of it.

The simple fact is that former governor McAuliffe is dependent on union bosses to fund his campaign and provide workers for the turnout effort. McAuliffe has received $525,000 from the National Education Association and $425,000 from the American Federation of Teachers. Those sums go a long way to explaining McAuliffe's contempt for parents.

You can better understand McAuliffe's willingness to get rid of Virginia's Right to Work Law when you learn that the Service Employee International Union has given his campaign almost $690,000. McAuliffe's conversion to big-government socialism and radical policies has also earned him $1.75 million from Independence USA PAC (Mike Bloomberg's PAC) and $250,000 from George Soros personally. McAuliffe's anti-parent, pro-Union position will likely earn the campaign even more money as it desperately tries to grab the governorship.

Virginia governor debate
ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA - SEPTEMBER 28: Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (L) (D-VA) and Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin (R) particpate in a debate hosted by the Northern Virginia Chamber of Commerce September 28, 2021 in Alexandria, Virginia. The gubernatorial election is November 2. Win McNamee/Getty Images

However, McAuliffe's open contempt for parents and subservience to the unions may cost him the election. After all, there was recently a rally of more than 1,000 people in Loudoun County, Virginia, who were angry about left-wing radicalism being taught in their schools. Parents of students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax, Virginia, are outraged because school officials are "purging" students of Asian descent to meet woke quotas. In fact, citizens across the country from every background are upset that left-wing radicalism is taking hold in schools while education standards are being lowered—or even abolished.

Virginians have historically been proud of their education system and have prized good educations for their children and grandchildren. They see the unions undermining this tradition and crippling their children's futures.

When McAuliffe illustrated the gap between parents and union bosses in the debate last Tuesday, it may have been the key moment of his campaign. If Youngkin can push the issue relentlessly for the next month, McAuliffe may be permanently branded as a union-controlled big-government socialist—and therefore unacceptable to most Virginians.

This kind of clarifying moment is not new for Democrats.

In 1972, Democratic presidential nominee Sen. George McGovern announced he was "1,000 percent behind" his vice presidential nominee Sen. Tom Eagleton (who admitted after accepting the nomination that he had been given electric shock treatments for depression). A week later he dumped Eagleton. He lost in a landslide.

In 1984, Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale proudly announced in his acceptance speech that he would raise our taxes. His support collapsed, and never recovered. President Ronald Reagan cheerfully contrasted his tax cuts with Mondale's tax increases. The result was a landslide.

In 2004, Sen. John Kerry was filmed windsurfing in Nantucket. This convinced swing voters across the country he really was an elitist who was out of touch with normal Americans. A few weeks later he lost.

In 2016, Secretary Hillary Clinton attacked most Republican voters as "deplorables," firing up the base of Donald Trump's voters. A month later she lost in a shocking upset.

McAuliffe's declaration that "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach," may join this list of campaign-dooming mistakes.

If McAuliffe loses, it will be a real warning to Democrats across the country that big-government socialist values and woke policies may not be sustainable—even with massive union and billionaire funding.

Last Tuesday night, the Virginia governor's race took on a whole new importance as a national bellwether.

To read, hear, and watch more of Newt's commentary, visit

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.

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