Virginia Governor's Race 2013: Cuccinelli, McAuliffe urge supporters to get out the vote
NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Terry McAuliffe and Ken Cuccinelli begged their supporters Saturday to knock on another door and make another phone call as the campaign hit its final hours before Tuesday's election for governor.
McAuliffe supporters knocked on 125,000 doors Saturday morning, adding to the 1.6 million voter contacts already on the books. In all, 12,000 McAuliffe volunteers were in motion Saturday and by Election Day, McAuliffe's team was on track to knock on 2 million doors.
"Sleep's overrated," McAuliffe said during a visit to his volunteers here. "You don't need it."
The Republican National Committee, which is coordinating the get-out-the-vote effort in the state, declined to give specific numbers but said volunteers knocked on more doors than the Democrats did Saturday. The RNC also said they've matched McAuliffe's team door for door since the campaign started and have more regional offices than they did during 2012's presidential campaign.
"Just because people agree with us doesn't mean they're going to vote," Cuccinelli told volunteers at a campaign office near Richmond who were making phone calls for him. "This is what nagging is for."
The final push of volunteers - known as the "ground game" among political operatives - was in full operation Saturday and expected to continue until polls close at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.
Both campaigns tried to motivate their most ardent supporters for an election that is going to be decided by the few Virginians who choose to vote Tuesday. The state Board of Elections chief says turnout could be as low as 30 percent of registered voters and the campaigns see 40 percent turnout as the ceiling.
"If each of you just finds one person to persuade, that could well be the difference in a statewide race," said U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat who campaigned with McAuliffe. "There will be races called Tuesday night that will be decided by tens of votes."
Polls show McAuliffe ahead and campaign finance reports show a dramatically lopsided dynamic, with the Democrats far outraising and outspending Cuccinelli and his allies. Television airtime was tilted in McAuliffe's favor by a 10-to-1 margin.
"We are running like we're 20 points down," McAuliffe said, urging supporters not to take their apparent advantage for granted. "The polls look great but don't pay attention."
To combat his disadvantage, Cuccinelli turned to his conservative base.
"We've got the momentum," Cuccinelli said to applause during a stop at his Glen Allen office. "Unfortunately, the to-do list is always longer than the calendar."
Cuccinelli warned supporters that McAuliffe would be a threat to the state's coal miners, a backer of unions and beholden to out-of-state supporters. He noted New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and California-based environmentalist Tom Steyer have aired more than $3 million in ads criticizing Cuccinelli.
McAuliffe, too, tried to motivate his supporters by predicting how Cuccinelli would govern. He said Cuccinelli would limit women's access to contraception, try to restrict access to abortion and funnel tax dollars out of public schools.
"I will be a brick wall when it comes to women's rights," McAuliffe said.
McAuliffe and his allies have worked to link Cuccinelli to tea party Republicans who insisted on mandatory budget cuts that hit the Navy and the more recent partial shutdown of the federal government that impacted the state's 172,000 civilian workers. Cuccinelli's poll numbers sank in the wake of the 16-day shutdown, which started when Republicans tried to roll back the federal health care law.
Cuccinelli has made his opposition to the federal health care a centerpiece of his strategy. Cuccinelli, the current attorney general, was the first to file a lawsuit to block the law and has worked to tie McAuliffe to it.
"I'm scared of Obamacare. They're scared of what Obamacare is doing to Terry McAuliffe," Cuccinelli said of Democrats.
Cuccinelli said voters should consider one question when they cast their ballot on Tuesday: "What has Terry McAuliffe said he's going to do for you in the next four years? Can you name anything?"
McAuliffe responded that Cuccinelli would scare business away from the state with his deeply conservative positions: 'You cannot grow our economy by putting walls up."