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Virginia governor's race: McAuliffe, Youngkin face off in first debate

Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin met Thursday night at the Appalachian School of Law for Virginia's gubernatorial debate.

GRUNDY, Va. — Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin clashed over abortion and vaccination policies in Virginia’s first gubernatorial debate of the general election season. 

Each sought to cast the other as extreme on major issues Thursday. 

The race is being closely watched as a possible indicator of national voter sentiment. 

Asked his position on President Joe Biden’s sweeping new vaccine mandates, Youngkin called himself a strong advocate for the COVID-19 vaccines but said he thought the president lacked the authority to “dictate” that workers receive one.

McAuliffe criticized Youngkin as failing to show leadership, saying the Republican has undermined vaccine efforts and would unleash the virus by not mandating inoculations.

RELATED: Verify: Fact-checking the Virginia Governor's Debate

Thursday's debate comes on the eve of early voting across the Commonwealth.

Starting Friday, September 17, you can vote early at your local election office or vote by mail-in absentee ballot.

More information can be found on Virginia's Department of Elections website.

Here are important upcoming dates:

  • The deadline to register to vote or update your registration is October 12. 
  • If you want a ballot mailed to you, you must request one at your local election office by October 22.
  • October 30 is the last day for early in-person voting.
  • The general election date is Tuesday, November 2.
  • Mail-in absentee ballots must be postmarked by November 2 and received by noon, November 5