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Jill Biden wants to flex political muscles in NJ, VA gubernatorial races – NBC New York


What you should know

  • On Friday, First Lady Jill Biden will begin her campaign for the Democrats in the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey.
  • Biden’s first stop is an election event at Middlesex College in Edison, New Jersey.
  • Former President Barack Obama and other Democratic politicians will join Biden on their election campaign.

First Lady Jill Biden will campaign for the Democrats in the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey on Friday, their most overt foray into politics since arriving at the White House nine months ago.

Their engagement is the latest sign that the Democrats are pulling out the stops in the upcoming election, particularly in Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe appears to be in a closer race than expected. Jill Biden will be followed by more high-profile party votes in the coming days, including former President Barack Obama and Stacey Abrams, the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate who rose to national prominence in 2018.

The campaign return will be Jill Biden’s first since she stumbled upon her husband in last year’s presidential campaign. However, she regularly travels the country promoting topics like improving public education and community college, reopening schools amid the pandemic, and encouraging people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

That includes visiting reliably red states like Kansas, where she met with Hispanic community leaders on Tuesday. The state has not supported a Democrat as president since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1964.

She is expected at a rally early Friday afternoon at Middlesex College in Edison, New Jersey, where Democratic incumbent Governor Phil Murphy is believed to be ahead. She will later attend an event in the suburbs of Richmond, the capital of Virginia, along with McAuliffe, a former governor who is running to regain the post.

In New Jersey, Murphy has tried his Republican opponent, former MP Jack Ciattarelli, with former President Donald Trump’s hesitation about the COVID vaccine and wearing masks, as well as lies about last year’s presidential election stolen through widespread fraud were to bring in connection.

However, the first lady’s visit will be haunted even more nationally in Virginia, where McAuliffe, a longtime Democratic Party power broker and friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, is catching up with ex-businessman and political freshman, Republican Glenn Youngkin.

Tammy R. Vigil, professor of media studies at Boston University, said the First Ladies have routinely traveled to bolster their party’s top candidates since Laura Bush – who, like many presidential branches, often had higher approval ratings than her husband – started doing regular advertise major republicans at midterms and other races.

New Jersey’s two major party candidates for lieutenant governor, Democratic Lt. Gov. Sheila Oliver, met Republican Diane Allen, a former senator, on Tuesday in her only debate in 2021.

“You get a lot more emotional for the money,” said Vigil, author of a 2019 book about Melania Trump and Michelle Obama that describes how a “new era” of first ladies has expanded their political clout. “Her preference compared to her husband is positive. It gets them to talk about subjects in a different way than an elected official could. And you get a lot from this reliability factor. “

Jill Biden holds a PhD in English and continues to teach writing and English at Northern Virginia Community College, where she has held a position since 2009 – the first lady to leave the White House to earn hours on a full-time job.

McAuliffe says the president, who carried Virginia a comfortable 10 percentage points last year, will also be promoting him in the coming days. Meanwhile, President Biden’s approval ratings have fallen to some of the lowest levels of his tenure in the White House.

“The president, of course, wants former Virginia governor McAuliffe to become the future governor of Virginia,” said White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

But it also appeared to be trying to lower expectations of whether what happens next month in Virginia might be an indicator of national democratic struggles leading to next year’s midterm elections – when the party’s tight control over both chambers of Congress is at stake.

“I leave it to other outside analysts to convey that off-year elections are often not an editorial,” said Psaki. “We will do everything we can to help former Governor McAuliffe.”

McAuliffe is betting on women, especially in the suburbs where Republican candidates lost their support during the Trump administration. Vigil said this was exactly “the constituency for which you are bringing in the first lady.”

“Your whole personality is often built around the idea of ​​connecting with voters. Especially female voters, ”she said, calling the dynamic“ annoying to me that this is the case because these first ladies are political actors and citizens in and of themselves and yet they are pushed into this narrow corner of ‘Oh, the women’s election’ will .'”

“It makes sense,” added Vigil, “it’s just awkward in modern times when it’s so limited.”

The first lady’s travels come as the president will be spending his Friday in Connecticut promoting a massive spending plan that the Democrats are trying to pull through Congress despite deep divisions within their own ranks over the final price. As a candidate and president, he has introduced himself as “Jill’s husband” at a number of events, which often generates laughter and applause.


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