Terry McAuliffe Fundraises For Self-Described Democratic Socialist

July 16, 2021

Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe is fundraising for Pennsylvania Senate hopeful John Fetterman, a self-described democratic socialist and prominent supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.).

The McAuliffe campaign on Thursday sent a joint fundraising email with Fetterman. Contributions were split evenly between the Pennsylvania Democrat's campaign and Common Good VA, the political action committee McAuliffe formed as governor. 

"It's absolutely mission-critical that we raise as much money as possible early on to show that John Fetterman is the candidate that can win not just the primary—but also a tough and expensive general election against the PA GOP," the email said.

Fetterman's campaign did not return a request for comment. McAuliffe spokeswoman Christina Freundlich called the fundraising effort "common practice among campaigns" and said the former governor has not endorsed Fetterman.

The political partnership is an odd one for McAuliffe, an establishment-backed Democrat who ran as a moderate in 2013 and faced attacks from the left during Virginia's June primary. Fetterman was the only Pennsylvania statewide official to endorse Sanders for president in 2016, and like the Vermont senator, he is "a self-described democratic socialist," according to NPR. McAuliffe is a close ally of Sanders's presidential campaign rival, Hillary Clinton, and made regular news appearances as a Clinton surrogate during the 2016 primary.

"The establishment has their chosen candidate in both of our races, and we both went into this knowing it would be an uphill battle," Fetterman wrote in a 2016 article announcing his endorsement of Sanders. "Bernie's proven that you can run a strong campaign without selling your soul to billionaires." Just months earlier, McAuliffe appeared on NBC's Meet the Press to praise Clinton's "spectacular" campaign launch.

McAuliffe has lurched left on some issues during his second gubernatorial run. The Democrat in June welcomed an endorsement from Emgage Action, a Muslim-American advocacy group and staunch defender of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. According to Emgage's website, questions related to "Palestine, settlements, and the right to boycott" make up a "key part" of its endorsement process. McAuliffe condemned the boycott movement as governor.

Fetterman is one of 13 Democrats running to replace outgoing Republican senator Pat Toomey in 2022. He holds a strong fundraising advantage in the primary, ending June with more than $3 million on hand. 

McAuliffe will face Republican opponent Glenn Youngkin in November. A July poll from the American Principles Project shows a tight race, with McAuliffe leading Youngkin by 5 points. Ten percent of voters remain undecided, according to the poll.