Tonight Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli and Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe will face off in their second debate of the campaign season to see who has the chops to be the next governor of Virginia. The 25th Annual Northern Virginia Debate is being co-hosted by the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce and NBC4 Washington, with Chuck Todd serving as the moderator. Coming into tonight’s debate, which you can watch live below, McAuliffe is leading Cuccinelli in the polls by as much as ten points. Cuccinelli however, has recently won the endorsement of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, which means a lot to tonight’s audience. While the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce has designated that this second debate in the Virginia Governor’s Race be about economics, both candidates will likely mention the social issues as well. You can watch the Virginia Governor’s debate streaming live below starting at 7pm, or you can watch online at the Washington NBC affiliate site.
Coming into this debate there have been a number of important issues facing both candidates. Here are five things you should look for during tonight’s discussions:
1. Focus on issues important to voters in Northern Virginia. Obviously the theme of this debate is Northern Virginia. With that in mind, both candidates will tailor their messages to a wealthier, younger, and more liberal audience. McAuliffe with strive to showcase his progressive views when it comes to social issues and connection to the Democratic platform. Meanwhile, Cuccinelli will be highlighting his strong plans for small business growth and tax reform.
2. What to do about driving factors in the economy including taxes, regulations, and transportation. Business growth is the number one issue of importance in Northern Virginia, as this part of the state has experienced the largest amount of economic growth in recent years. Both candidates will need to highlight their plans to bring more businesses into Northern Virginia. As this area gets more populated, transportation has become a major issue. McAuliffe will likely mention the need for more investment in public transportation offerings, whereas Cuccinelli is will focus more on road expansion.
3. Who has the bigger scandal. This race has been marred by both candidates getting nasty in their efforts to paint their opponent as an unscrupulous character. McAuliffe will certainly bring up Cuccinelli’s ties to current Governor Bob McDonnell’s gift scandal, as well as his right-wing beliefs when it comes to women’s issues, abortion, and gay marriage, which will resonate with Northern Virginians’ liberal sensibilities. Cuccinelli, on the other hand will mention McAuliffe’s association with GreenTech, the green car manufacturer that has been under scrutiny for a slew of poor management and potentially illegal operational problems. This would likely resonate with Northern Virginian business owners.
4. Which candidate got the better endorsements. In a serious blow to McAuliffe’s campaign, the Northern Virginia Technology Council recently endorsed Ken Cuccinelli, which Cuccinelli will definitely make a point of mentioning. McAuliffe will come back by mentioning his endorsements from national progressive groups such as Planned Parenthood, the Human Rights Campaign, and the League of Conservation Voters.
5. Whether or not the polls matter. McAuliffe has been leading consistently in the polls since April, and has increasingly been polling better than Cuccinelli by a wider and wider margin. As we inch closer to election day, McAuliffe would be remiss not to focus on the fact that he is already the preferred choice for Governor by a majority of Virginians.
The next debate is scheduled for October 24th, and is set to be hosted by the Virginia Tech community. Stay posted for a complete recap of tonight’s debate tomorrow morning, as well as continued coverage of what has been a very exciting race for Governor of Virginia.