Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin’s campaign is tying his Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe, to rising crime rates in two new ads, as Republicans across the country seize on the issue ahead of the midterms.
The campaign released two different 30-second spots titled “Dangerous” and “Extreme,” tying McAuliffe to movements calling for defunding police departments, abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement and closing prisons.
The ads, which will run statewide on broadcast, cable and radio, specifically highlight progressive group New Virginia Majority’s endorsement of McAuliffe.
“Terry McAuliffe’s embrace of groups that want to close prisons and defund police, his refusal to meet with police groups, and his abysmal track record as governor make it clear that McAuliffe is too extreme and too dangerous to tackle Virginia’s violent crime problem,” said Youngkin campaign spokesman Matt Wolking. “McAuliffe’s policies will cause more chaos and crime and make Virginians less safe.”
McAuliffe's campaign hit back in a statement, touting the former governor's record.
"We know Glenn struggles with it, so here's the truth: as governor, Terry McAuliffe made Virginia the fourth safest state in the nation," said McAuliffe's spokesperson Renzo Olivari. "He put in place one of the toughest laws in the country to combat domestic violence, and he has released a detailed plan to keep Virginians safe, including keeping guns out of dangerous hands. Glenn Youngkin's right-wing agenda would only make Virginia less safe -- he's bragged about opposing any common-sense gun safety measures, and the Washington Post says his Trumpian economic plan would defund the police."
The former governor hit Youngkin in a tweet last month, saying Youngkin’s plan to deal with the state’s budget surplus would negatively impact police departments.
“Glenn Youngkin is pushing a plan that will cut 72% of the state’s general budget. Are you kidding me? Those cuts would hit schools, police, and health services hard. Talk about irresponsible,” McAuliffe tweeted.
The ads are the latest from Youngkin’s campaign to tie McAuliffe to rising crime rates and calls to defund the police. Last month, the Republican’s campaign rolled out an ad titled “Terry McAuliffe is embracing ‘defund the police’ extremists.”
According to crime statistics released by Virginia State Police in June, police-reported homicides in the state jumping from 455 in 2019 to 537 in 2020. The same report found that kidnappings, robberies, rapes and other sex offenses were down last year. The statistics appeared to mirror nationwide increases in homicides.
National Republicans hit Democrats hard over messages like “defund the police” in 2020, an election in which the GOP picked up a number of House seats. Centrist and establishment Democrats have warned the progressive calls could sink the party in 2021.
McAuliffe has said he does not support defunding the police and would like to see more funds going to police departments to deal with community policing activities and mental health.
Updated at 12:38 p.m.