The day after a nasty debate in McLean, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce's political arm announced it was endorsing Terry McAuliffe for governor of Virginia.
It's the first time in more than a decade the group has supported a Democrat for governor.
"I am honored to have the support of the Fairfax Chamber of Commerce," McAuliffe, a McLean resident, said in a statement. "Our businesses and innovators are the backbone of our economy here in the Commonwealth, and as governor, I will work in a bipartisan way to strengthen education, transportation infrastructure, and workforce development, so we can keep Virginia competitive in the 21st Century."
The chamber's political action committee endorsed Republican Bob McDonnell for governor in 2009 and Republican Jerry Kilgore for governor in 2005, but this year aligned with McAuliffe on issues like accepting federal funds for Medicaid expansion in Virginia and supporting the bipartisan transportation compromise that passed the Virginia Legislature earlier this year.
The chamber is also backing Democratic state Sen. Ralph Northam for lieutenant governor and state Sen. Mark Herring for attorney general.
“In terms of the priorities of the Northern Virginia business community, Mr. McAuliffe’s policy positions and proposals closely align with the Fairfax Chamber’s legislative agenda,” Jim Corcoran, the Fairfax chamber president, told the Washington Post. “Mr. McAuliffe was a major supporter of Governor McDonnell’s landmark transportation funding legislation and a consistent supporter of rail to Dulles. He has also vocalized his opposition to mandatory project labor agreements (PLAs) and he has vowed to veto any attempt to chip away at Virginia’s long-standing right to work laws.”
Previously this election cycle, the Northern Virginia Technology Council's TechPAC endorsed the Republican candidate, Ken Cuccinelli.
The Fairfax Chamber of Commerce, which represents 650 businesses with more than 500,000 employees, hosted Wednesday night's debate at the Capital One Conference Center in McLean.
McAuliffe and Cuccinelli spent most of the night attacking one another. Like their television ads, McAuliffe painted Cuccinelli as an extreme ideologue who tried to block the Silver Line project. Cuccinelli, in turn, labeled McAuliffe as a self-serving Washington insider who would need on-the-job training to run Virginia.