Oct 22, 2021
McAuliffes backslapping political brand put to test in 2021
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NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (AP) — Terry McAuliffe is a blur of handshakes, hugs, backslaps and smiles as he glides through the friendly crowd at Gethsemane Baptist Church seeking help from above.
McAuliffe’s desperation to turn that legislation, with its billions of dollars for new roads and bridges, into a final pitch to voters is clear when he runs into Rep. Bobby Scott, a Virginia Democrat and close political ally for more than a decade.
“Greatest member of Congress to ever serve! He’s our man!” McAuliffe proclaims with his arm around the 15-term congressman. “You gonna get me an infrastructure bill?”
Scott pauses for a few moments of awkward silence.
“Uhhh, it’ll be last minute,” he says not-so-confidently as McAuliffe moves to shake another hand.
Such high-touch bravado worked for McAuliffe in 2013, when he became the only Virginia candidate in 44 years to win the governor’s mansion when his party occupied the White House. But in the closing days of the 2021 election, the 64-year-old graying Democrat’s intensely personal brand of politics, one that leverages decades-old friendships, frenetic hands-on campaigning and unrestrained authenticity, is facing a more formidable test.
McAuliffe is locked in a close race with Republican newcomer Glenn Youngkin in a state President Joe Biden carried by 10 points just last fall. Shifts in the state’s swelling suburbs to the north near Washington, D.C., and around Richmond have benefited Democrats in recent years — particularly when former President Donald Trump was in office. And while no Republican has won statewide here in more than a decade, Biden’s rough summer, dominated by the messy U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan and a stalled domestic agenda, threatens to undermine McAuliffe’s apparent advantages.
Much like Biden, McAuliffe is in some ways a throwback to the politics of the past, when the Democratic Party’s leadership was dominated by older, white men who conducted business in smoke-filled rooms where the booze flowed freely. He developed his political playbook looking over the shoulders of Bill and Hillary Clinton, for whom he raised hundreds of millions of dollars as a chief political fundraiser in the 1990s and 2000s.
The Syracuse, New York, native wrote openly about his fundraising jaunts at casinos and golf courses with the political elite in the book “What a Party!” published years before he became governor.
More recently, however, the Democratic Party has become much more diverse, much less friendly to wealthy donors and much more sensitive to the behavior of its leaders. While McAuliffe is eager to talk about his accomplishments during his single term as governor, his gregarious personality can overshadow his policies during campaign swings.
He’s equally as enthusiastic meeting a 4-year-old preschool student as a four-term U.S. senator, constantly joking, asking questions, citing statistics, squeezing shoulders. One of his favorite quips: “I got as much energy today as the day I was born!”
Jake Rubenstein, who served as McAuliffe’s personal assistant during his 2013 campaign and his traveling chief of staff in 2021, said his boss is the same man he’s always been.
“His style has never changed,” he said. “He’s full go, all the time. He’s the campaign manager. He’s the chief of staff. He never stops working.”
McAuliffe proudly proclaims that he attends 10 to 15 political events each day, seven days a week. There have been few large rallies, however. Most of his gatherings during the COVID-19 pandemic have been invitation-only, policy-focused events with small groups of local health officials, educators and faith leaders, among others. Closed-door fundraising events are a regular part of the schedule as well.
McAuliffe will draw bigger crowds when a collection of high-profile, longtime political allies visit the state on his behalf in the coming days, including former President Barack Obama and Biden himself. Bill and Hillary Clinton, who attended his first inauguration, have not been a visible part of the campaign, though they hosted two private fundraising events and Hillary Clinton signed three fundraising emails on McAuliffe’s behalf.
Democratic Del. Marcia Price, who is Black, acknowledged that some of her constituents are not excited about participating in the election, but suggested the pandemic was to blame far more than McAuliffe’s appeal.
McAuliffe remains a dominant force in Virginia politics. He won every one of Virginia’s cities and localities, earning more votes than all his competitors combined in his party’s nominating contest this spring, which included three candidates of color.
Still, Price, who declined to endorse anyone in the primary, is ready for more diverse party leadership.
“I’m not voting on who in the entire world I want to be governor. I have two choices … and Terry is the best choice,” she said in an interview. “Is it time for diversity? Yes. Is it time for the party to really take a look at itself? Absolutely. But I can walk and chew gum at the same time. Terry’s got to be elected.”
McAuliffe’s appeal to African Americans, who represent 20% of the state’s population and a critical slice of the Democratic base, is central to his candidacy. His focus on racial equity also plays well among college-educated white people in the growing suburbs.
Almost every day on the trail, he highlights his decision as governor to restore voting rights to more than 200,000 felons — many of them Black. He also frequently reminds voters that in 2015 he ordered the removal of a state-sponsored license plate that featured the Confederate flag.
“That’s what they think of me. They don’t (think of) my age or the color of my skin — that’s not what they think of,” McAuliffe said in an interview.
When asked, he stopped short of saying that Virginia still has a problem with systemic racism.
“You still have to go and deal with issues that go back many years here in Virginia, but we’re in a different place from when I was governor,” McAuliffe said.
The former governor is also eager to promote his plans for moving past the pandemic, for education and for protecting women’s access to abortion, all of which he says are under attack by his Republican opponent. But McAuliffe may be most proud of his economic record while governor, which has drawn praise from some business-minded Republicans and independents.
As a businessman himself, McAuliffe led more than 30 trade and marketing missions to other countries to bring new business to the state. Unemployment fell from 5.7% to 3.3% while he was in office. In making the business deals, McAuliffe acknowledges that he worked long hours and sometimes enjoyed “a glass of wine.”
Robert Vaughn, who worked under Republicans and Democrats as a staffer and later the director of the House Appropriations Committee, described the former governor as a hard worker who surrounded himself with conscientious people and expected “good government.”
Vaughn, who occasionally attended business functions and social events at the governor’s mansion, said McAuliffe seemed to truly relish the job, including the chance to “press the flesh” and entertain.
McAuliffe kept quality liquor stocked for parties — and enjoyed good wine and scotch — but always emphasized that he paid for it himself, according to Vaughn. He said he once saw McAuliffe at a bar in the Shockoe Slip district, enjoying “the libations” and buying folks a round.
McAuliffe was blunt when asked if he thinks he should curtail the partying culture he’s known for.
“I have nothing to change,” he told The Associated Press.
“That’s how I recruited 1,100 companies to come to Virginia. But yeah, they would come over, and I would stay up till 1 (a.m.) talking. But I was always working for Virginia. I had business leaders, legislative leaders. These weren’t parties. These were working hard,” McAuliffe explained. “You bet I work hard. No one will ever outwork me. That’s how I got so much done.”
Aubrey Layne, who describes himself as an independent and served as McAuliffe’s secretary of transportation, said the former governor has both character and competence. He said he set high expectations for his staff, held them accountable and worked hard himself.
“He never slept,” Layne said.
Associated Press writer Sarah Rankin in Richmond contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.
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University of Minnesota Professor Says Critical Race Theory Is Not ‘Revolutionary Enough’
moreby Megan Olson
A University of Minnesota professor thinks the only problem with critical race theory is that “it’s not revolutionary enough.”
According to political science professor August Nimtz, CRT is “rooted in the frustrations of African American civil rights lawyers who more than seven decades ago had sought to employ the country’s legal system to redress racial discrimination.”
“Their increasing recognition that there were institutional barriers to racial equality birthed what later became CRT. Marxist-inspired ‘critical theory’ seemed to offer an explanation — systems of oppression. But critical theory was a poor cousin of genuine Marxism. It was bereft of the revolutionary element from its supposed progenitor — resistance, namely the class struggle,” Nimtz writes in the Star Tribune.
In other words, the problem with CRT is that it’s not as revolutionary as outright Marxism. To drive this point home, Nimtz criticizes academics “for whom intellectual work and not activism is primary.”
“Capitalism, class society’s modern edition, depends on, reproduces and over time deepens social inequality — including that of race. So, yes, ‘systemic racism’ exists: it’s called capitalism,” he continues.
The only way to create true racial equality in the United States is through “a radical redistribution of economic and political power,” something Martin Luther King Jr. stated in the 1960s. Nimtz argues that these words are just “as relevant today as when first uttered more than half a century ago.”
“Well-intentioned proponents of CRT, unlike its self-serving entrepreneurs, ignore it at their peril,” Nimtz concludes.
The professor has disclosed in previous interviews that he “would have probably ended up in the Communist Party” if he had been hired by the University of Chicago in the 1970s. He ended up joining the Socialist Workers Party in 1972 instead and ran for mayor as an SWP candidate.
He recalled teaching at the University of Minnesota during the 1972 anti-war movement and seeing “graduate students with their heads buried in books while a mass revolt was going on downstairs on the ground.” He called this his “first reality check about the academy.”
Nimtz also authored an opinion piece in MinnPost on the George Floyd riots in which he applauded the many protesters who “disobediently” engaged in the “biggest progressive action so far anywhere in the United States under the state-sanctioned pandemic lockdown.”
In another article, Nimtz defended the Cuban Revolution and said Cubans accept the limitations on their civil liberties as “the price they pay for defending their revolution.”
The University of Minnesota is home to many other left-wing professors. In August, for instance, a professor spoke out against the school hiring more police officers, despite rising crime around campus.
The University of Minnesota also maintains a research guide that claims “search algorithms are racist,” encouraging students to check the races of authors they cite.
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Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.
Photo “Students at University of Minnesota” by University of Minnesota Twin Cities.
Reprinted with permission from AlphaNewsMN.com