Virginians vote for governor on Tuesday in a race seen as a key test for Democrats and Republicans in a swing state ahead of mid-term elections next year.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a veteran political fundraiser, leads Republican state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a Tea Party favorite, in polls. Libertarian Robert Sarvis is a distant third.
Here are some facts about the candidates and the race:
- McAuliffe, 56, is a businessman, political money man and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee. He has never held public office.
- McAuliffe is a longtime friend of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The couple have campaigned for him in Virginia.
- In the 1990s, McAuliffe devised what became known as the “Lincoln Bedroom” strategy which offered special White House access to top Clinton campaign contributors.
- He told the New York Times last year that his Rolodex had 18,632 names in it.
- McAuliffe has been criticized because of his connection with GreenTech, a struggling Mississippi-based electric car manufacturer that he helped launch but which failed to produce promised jobs.
- He ran for Virginia governor in 2009 and finished second in the Democratic primary.
- McAuliffe backs the new federal healthcare law, offshore oil drilling and an expansion of preschool programs for low-income children. He rejects tax increases and supports gay marriage, now barred by the state constitution.
- Cuccinelli, 45, is a former state senator. He was elected attorney general in 2009.
- He opposes abortion in all cases other than to save the mother’s life. He backs the state constitution’s same-sex marriage ban.
- In 2010, Cuccinelli demanded documents from a former University of Virginia climate researcher to determine whether the professor skewed data to obtain grants. The state Supreme Court ruled that Cuccinelli did not have authority to make the demands.
- Cuccinelli filed suit to try to block the new federal healthcare law on constitutional grounds.
- As attorney general, he argued successfully in 2011 for the exoneration of a man who spent 27 years in prison on a rape conviction until new evidence emerged.
- Cuccinelli has been hurt by a scandal involving Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who is under investigation for taking gifts from a businessman. Cuccinelli apologized in September for accepting gifts from the same executive.
- Cuccinelli backs lower taxes to boost Virginia’s economy and has criticized stricter Environmental Protection Agency standards for new coal-fired power plants.
- Sarvis, the candidate for the free-market Libertarian Party, is a Harvard-educated lawyer and software engineer.
- Sarvis, 37, has generated support of up to about 10 percent in polls. If that backing holds on Election Day, it would be the best showing by a third-party candidate in Virginia since 1965.
- Sarvis is seen as pulling support from Cuccinelli, and the attorney general’s campaign has said a vote for Sarvis only helps McAuliffe.
- Sarvis backs legalizing marijuana, gun rights and same-sex marriage.
- McAuliffe has raised $34 million to Cuccinelli’s $20 million, and Sarvis has generated $176,000, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks political money in the state.
- The biggest contribution to McAuliffe is $6.2 million from the Democratic Governors Association. Cuccinelli’s top contributor is the Republican Governors Association, which has given $7.9 million.
- About 70 percent of the candidates’ funds has come from out of state. That is a record for outside money in a governor’s race, according to the nonpartisan National Institute on Money In State Politics, in Helena, Montana.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; editing by Scott Malone and Matthew Lewis