Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin speaks during a campaign event in McLean, Virginia, U.S., July 14, 2021. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

Republican candidate for Virginia governor walks fine line on election fraud

CHESTERFIELD, Va., Oct 12 (Reuters) – At a latest Virginia rally, Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin talked up his plans to spice up the economic system and struggle crime, and stated nothing in any respect about false claims that Democratic President Joe Biden’s election victory was the results of fraud.

However some within the crowd heard the message all the identical, moments earlier than the previous personal fairness government’s speech, when Republican state Senator Amanda Chase informed Youngkin supporters – offstage and with no microphone – that she was on guard in opposition to a repeat of election dishonest.

“I know what the Democrats are trying to do,” she stated in an interview after remarks that drew cheers. “If things happen again like this past year, they will be caught,” stated Chase, one among Virginia’s main voices in help of former President Donald Trump’s baseless claims of voter fraud, who final 12 months known as on him to declare martial regulation following his loss to Biden.

The dynamic illustrated the fine line Youngkin walks on the marketing campaign path. He’s attempting to keep away from turning off die-hard supporters of Trump, a Republican, whose allegations the election was stolen from him had been rejected by dozens of courts, state election officers and members of his personal administration.

However Youngkin additionally doesn’t wish to alienate the unbiased voters who disapprove of Trump and his position in sparking the lethal Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol supposed to overturn his election defeat.

The Nov. 2 contest between Youngkin and his Democratic opponent, former Governor Terry McAuliffe, is extensively seen as a bellwether of the 2022 congressional races that can decide which celebration controls Congress for the second half of Biden’s time period.

“Youngkin has the difficult task that many mainstream Republicans have,” stated Jessica Taylor, an analyst on the Prepare dinner Political Report, who considers the Youngkin-McAuliffe race a toss-up. “You have to thread the needle very tightly here because you cannot anger the Trump base that you also need.”

Trump has endorsed Youngkin and has warned that the vote may very well be rigged in opposition to the Republican.

Youngkin, nevertheless, has known as Biden’s victory “certifiably fair.” He has made extra nuanced statements about election integrity, saying this month that Virginia’s voting machines have to be audited, one thing which is already executed.

At his rally on Friday, held below a coated horse-riding enviornment in Chesterfield, south of the state capital, Richmond, Youngkin informed the gang: “We need election observers. Please volunteer to be election observers.”

He additionally informed the rally he was grateful that Chase had talked there. “Thanks for being our partner,” he stated, pointing her out within the crowd. Chase, who misplaced to Youngkin within the Republican main, has been at a number of of his marketing campaign occasions.

Requested concerning the disconnect between Youngkin’s and Chase’s feedback on election fraud, Youngkin spokesperson Macaulay Porter cited McAuliffe’s ties to Democrats concerned in previous election disputes, together with former Vice President Al Gore, who misplaced the 2000 presidential election to Republican George W. Bush after the Supreme Court docket halted additional recounts, and Stacey Abrams, who disputed her 2018 defeat within the Georgia governor’s race.

‘CONSPIRACY THEORIES’

McAuliffe’s marketing campaign has seized on Youngkin’s feedback on election machine audits, operating a tv advert final week that in contrast Youngkin’s place with what a voice within the spot described as Trump’s “conspiracy theories,” juxtaposed with photos of the Jan. 6 riot.

Virginia shifted Democratic over the previous decade, thanks partially to inhabitants progress in its liberal-leaning suburbs of Washington.

Biden beat Trump in Virginia by 10 share factors, the fourth straight election by which a Democratic presidential candidate carried the Southern state. Republicans carried Virginia in each presidential election from 1968 to 2004.

Many Youngkin supporters at his rally stated they had been savvy to Youngkin’s balancing act relating to Trump’s loss in 2020.

“He probably can’t come out and say it was stolen like I can,” stated Tim Ashlin, 63, a retired utilities programs operator from Cumberland, Virginia. “He has got to be more centrist.”

Some consultants fear Youngkin’s messaging – and his marketing campaign’s use of Chase – might undermine individuals’s religion in U.S. elections.

“He is clearly trying to have his cake and eat it too,” stated Sylvia Albert, director of voting and elections at Widespread Trigger, a voting rights watchdog group.

Reporting by Jason Lange; Enhancing by Scott Malone and Peter Cooney

Our Requirements: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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