Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe and the rest of the Democratic ticket snubbed an invitation from a state police union for a candidate screening meeting.
Fox News reported that the Virginia Police Benevolent Association (VPBA) board of directors had invited the governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general candidates from both parties to a screening event. The Republican candidates for each elected position — Glenn Youngkin, Jason Miyares, and Winsome Sears — all attended the event, but none of the Democratic candidates showed up.
Mark Herring, Virginia’s current attorney general who is running for re-election, informed the VPBA the day before the event that he would not attend. McAuliffe and Hala Ayala, who is running for lieutenant governor on the Democratic ticket, did not reply at all.
The VPBA endorsed Herring in 2013 while he was running for attorney general but endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli over McAuliffe.
Sean McGowan, executive director of the VPBA, told Fox News that invitations to the event were sent on June 9, and candidates were reminded about it on June 21.
“We are concerned and surprised that none of the Democratic candidates were willing to meet with our representatives and discuss issues that are important to our members,” McGowan told the outlet. “This is the first time in the history of the Virginia PBA that an entire ticket refused to meet with our law enforcement representatives.”
McGowan also told Fox that who the VPBA eventually decides to endorse is nonpartisan and that the association “has a long record of endorsements for candidates from both parties.”
“Our members wished to hear from all of the candidates on qualified immunity, state law enforcement benefits, [the] Brady Giglio law, Second Amendment stances, procedural guarantee for officers and other issues that impact our members working lives, but sadly Terry McAuliffe, Hala Ayala and Mark Herring decided that this process was not a priority for them,” McGowan added.
Christian Martinez, a campaign spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Youngkin, told Fox News that McAuliffe “turned his back on law enforcement” by saying he would end qualified immunity for police officers, which he said would mean police officers would be “targeted with frivolous lawsuits and personally bankrupted just for doing their job.”
Qualified immunity also protects police officers and others in the legal system when they undeniably violate their duties to justice.
“McAuliffe’s anti-police agenda will cause chaos in our communities by making it impossible to recruit new officers and causing mass retirements,” Martinez said. “The 43% increase in the murder rate and the increase in the rape rate every year when McAuliffe was governor was terrible, but that will pale in comparison to the explosion of crime that will occur if McAuliffe gets a third term.”
On Twitter, Youngkin’s communications director, Matt Wolking, asked McAuliffe: “How are you going to reduce crime and restore public safety if you won’t even talk law enforcement?”
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This is not the first political spat with law enforcement for McAuliffe. In 2017, the Virginia Sheriffs Association accused the then-governor of canceling a budget meeting in retaliation over the majority of Old Dominion sheriffs throwing their hat behind Republican candidate Ed Gillespie.