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How Virginia's Gubernatorial Candidates Are Handling Big Names on the Campaign Trail

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NPR
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With just days to go before Election Day, the candidates for governor are taking radically different approaches on bringing in big name supporters.

Campaigns often close with a series of appearances from celebrities, like musician Dave Matthews appearing with voting rights activist Stacey Abrams and Democratic National Committee chairman Jaime Harrison.

Then there's President Joe Biden campaigning in Arlington with former Governor Terry McAuliffe. Jatia Wrighten at Virginia Commonwealth University says the selection of big name speakers in this campaign is a window into what McAuliffe feels like he needs heading into Election Day.

"The political actors that they are bringing to the campaign trail are ones that have been very popular and effective with Black voters; so Barack Obama, Stacey Abrams, Kamala Harris, right? So, I think that's key is that McAuliffe feels like he needs an extra push with Black voters," explains Wrighten.

Mark Rozell at George Mason University's Schar School says Republicans are trying to make the case that bringing in big names is essentially a sign of weakness.

"The Republicans don't think that they need that kind of outside support; big name Republicans nationally to come in," says Rozell. "And of course, who would they bring in? Donald Trump? Glenn Youngkin doesn't want that. Actually, that's what Terry McAuliffe wants."

Trump did call in to a rally in support of the Republican ticket. But that's probably the closest we're going to see the former president to making an appearance on the campaign trail with Youngkin.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria. He has reported for NPR, the New York Daily News and the Alexandria Gazette Packet. He has a master's degree in American Studies from Florida State University, and he is a former adjunct professor at Tallahassee Community College. He is the author of four books.