McAuliffe Visits PVCC on Official Campaign Kickoff Tour - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

McAuliffe Visits PVCC on Official Campaign Kickoff Tour

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Terry McAuliffe at PVCC Terry McAuliffe at PVCC

Democratic nominee for governor, Terry McAuliffe, stopped in the Charlottesville area Monday for an official campaign kickoff event at Piedmont Virginia Community College. But new polling data suggests he has an uphill battle to fight.

New numbers from the Washington Post show McAuliffe trailing Republican Ken Cuccinelli by five points among all Virginia voters.  McAuliffe is counting on the fact most voters aren't yet paying attention to this year's race, and now he's making a case for your vote.

His visit to Piedmont Virginia Community College makes five times McAuliffe has stopped in Charlottesville already in 2013 - but he's calling this his campaign kickoff, officially laying out policy proposals, six months before you head to the polls. The statewide campaign kickoff tour began Sunday in Norfolk.

"I've spent, as you know, months and months traveling to every nook and cranny in Virginia, a lot of the ideas I've come up with is actually up talking to folks around the commonwealth," said McAuliffe.

McAuliffe's policy initiatives echo a familiar set of themes - transportation, education, and job creation. That's why it should be no surprise that his new campaign slogan is "putting jobs first."

"We've got to make sure we're open and welcoming and we have the best education, best transportation, and the best healthcare delivery system," said McAuliffe.  

McAuliffe will also focus on Medicaid expansion, sustainable energy, and women's health. 

While McAuliffe rolls out his platform, new numbers show he trails his Republican opponent Ken Cuccinelli by 5 percent.  

"I don't think most folks are paying attention, and they're not paying any attention at all until they actually see our policy initiatives," said McAuliffe.

According to the same poll, only 10 percent say they are following the governor's race "very closely." While voters may not be covering the race for governor, they also may not know very much about McAuliffe.

"Well, if they don't know who you are, they're less likely to show up on Election Day in November," said Geoff Skelley, political analyst at University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Only 30 percent of voters say they know more than a little about the Democratic candidate. In comparison, about half of voters say they're familiar with Ken Cuccinelli.

"Voters don't really know Cuccinelli that well either, but they know McAuliffe less than they know Cuccinelli," said Skelley.

To close the gap, analysts say McAuliffe needs to keep rallying Democratic supporters.

"If not enough of them know who he is in six months still, you know he's going to have a very tough time winning," said Skelley.  

That's McAuliffe's strategy this week, making a number of stops across the state for these kickoff events to get the party base fired up.    

Meanwhile, Republican Ken Cuccinelli has his own plans. He'll announce his first major policy initiative Tuesday in Richmond.



Ken Cuccinelli's campaign released the following statement regarding McAuliffe's campaign kickoff:  

"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 jobs failures, starting with GreenTech Automotive and Franklin Pellets. Making matters worse, McAuliffe has a long record of supporting tax increases on voters in the Commonwealth, including the estate tax that even Tim Kaine opposed." - Anna Nix, Cuccinelli for Governor Spokeswoman.

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