May 6, 2013
Democrat Terry McAuliffe is marking a new phase in his campaign for governor with a visit Piedmont Virginia Community College in Albemarle County.
The race has been largely negative between McAuliffe and his Republican opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. On Monday, McAuliffe took his policy tour to Central Virginia, saying he is focused on getting out his message to voters.
Supporters packed into a small room at PVCC, cheering especially loud when he spoke about women's health issues and education.
"I think it's important when you run for office to know exactly where you stand on the issues," said McAuliffe.
In education, McAuliffe stands for changing the Standards of Learning system. He does not think it's effective to base the results on a single, large test at the end of the year. His supporters, like Lisa Green, say the current SOL system is counter-productive.
"It discourages teachers," said Green. "It discourages students."
McAuliffe says that, in one measure of teacher pay, Virginia ranks as the worst state in the nation. That is something he is vowing to improve.
McAuliffe's tour comes at a time when most Virginia voters still say they don't know much about him, despite his initial run for governor in 2009.
"I don't think most folks are paying attention," said McAuliffe. "In fairness, they're busy taking care of their families. They have things to do at home."
But he says he hopes voters get the message that he is not like Cuccinelli.
"This is probably the starkest contrast you've ever seen between two candidates running for governor in the history of the Commonwealth," said McAuliffe.
McAuliffe mentioned Cuccinelli a few times during his visit to PVCC, although he didn't mention him by name.
"My opponent tried to block this important process," McAuliffe said, speaking about the transportation plan that passed the General Assembly earlier this year. That plan raises the sales tax.
Cuccinelli released a statement, though his spokeswoman, Anna Nix, saying: "McAuliffe has a long record of supporting tax increases on voters in the Commonwealth."
McAuliffe says Cuccinelli's campaign is going in the wrong direction.
"He's more focused on a social ideological agenda," McAuliffe said. "I'm more focused on jobs and economic development."
But Cuccinelli questions McAuliffe's credentials.
"Ken Cuccinelli looks forward to contrasting his record of fighting for middle class families - be it through lower taxes, greater government accountability, and access to more and better jobs - versus Terry McAuliffe's abysmal jobs failures, starting with with GreenTech Automotive and Franklin Pellets," Nix wrote.