Former Rep. Tulsi Gabbard broke from her party and celebrated fellow Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s loss in the Virginia gubernatorial race this week calling the outcome a “victory for all Americans.”
Gabbard, who has criticized other members of her party including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in the past, appeared to accuse McAuliffe of running a campaign that was racially divisive.
“McAuliffe’s loss is a victory for all Americans. Why? Because it was a resounding rejection of efforts to divide us by race, the stripping of parental rights, and arrogant, deaf leaders. This benefits us all,” the former Hawaii representative and ex-presidential candidate tweeted Wednesday evening.
McAuliffe conceded the election to Glenn Youngkin Wednesday morning after several outlets declared Youngkin the winner the night before.
“While last night we came up short, I am proud that we spent this campaign fighting for the values we so deeply believe in,” the former Virginia governor said in a statement, noting the importance of protecting Virginia’s schools and voting rights, and fighting for affordable health care coverage and raising the minimum wage.
“While there will be setbacks along the way, I am confident that the long-term path of Virginia is toward inclusion, openness and tolerance for all.”
Throughout the election, education and parents’ authority in the classroom dominated key discussions.
McAuliffe, who Gabbard accused of looking to strip “parental rights,” came into hot water with parents across the state after a September debate where he said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
Youngkin took advantage of McAuliffe’s bold claim and used it to garner support from parents as many looked to voice their concerns over certain curriculum being taught, including critical race theory and sexually explicit books.
One issue in particular revolved around the novel “Beloved” written by the late Toni Morrison. A week before election day, Youngkin released a video ad attacking McAuliffe for saying parents should not have a say in what their children are taught in school.
The advertisement featured a Fairfax County mother who in 2013 waged a legal battle against “Beloved” after her son shared excerpts of the novel with her when he was a senior in high school.
“Beloved,” written in 1987, tells the story of a family of former slaves and features explicit scenes of bestiality, sex, violence and infanticide. It is usually assigned to juniors and seniors in some advanced placement literature classes in high school.
The mother’s original concerns eventually lead to the making of a bipartisan bill that would have given parents the opportunity and right to let their children opt out of sexually explicit readings. McAuliffe, who was governor at the time, vetoed the legislation.
The Democrat accused Youngkin of trying to silence Black authors, calling his message a “racist dog whistle.”
Despite his efforts to hold off Youngkin through top Democratic counties, McAuliffe fell up short Tuesday night. With 99 percent of the expected vote in, Youngkin took 50.7 percent of the vote compared to 48.6 percent for McAuliffe — out of nearly 3.3 million ballots cast.
In his victory speech, Youngkin vowed to restore “excellence” in schools throughout the Commonwealth, saying “We’re going to embrace our parents, not ignore them.”