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Democrats Push Education, Bash GOP Ticket in Annual Fundraiser

(Updated at 1:45 p.m.)

Arlington Democrats hosted the entire statewide Democratic ticket at their annual Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner Saturday night.

The party’s nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general give passionate campaign speeches. Terry McAuliffe, the Democrats’ gubernatorial candidate, arrived late but closed the event with the keynote address, touching on the effects sequestration will continue to have on Virginia’s economy, noting Arlington’s place as a hub for defense jobs, in particular.

“The stakes have never been higher,” McAuliffe told the crowd of several hundred local political leaders and donors. “You want a governor who knows the ups and downs of business.”

Arlington County Democratic Committee Chairman Mike Lieberman delivered the first speech of the event, held annually at the Westin in Ballston, chronicling the past 12 months in Arlington politics.

“We have had an amazing last year,” said Lieberman, who is in his final year as chair of the local party. “We went eight-for-eight in general elections on three different election days.”

The dinner — which cost $125 a plate for the general public and $250 for VIPs — is the organization’s biggest fundraising event. The Dems also raised money with a silent auction during the dinner.

Through June 30, McAuliffe has raised almost $12.7 million, compared to almost $7.7 million for his Republican opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, according to the Federal Election Commission.  Lieutenant governor candidate, state Sen. Ralph Northam, has raised more than $2 million compared to $390,683 raised by his GOP opponent, E.W. Jackson, and Attorney General candidate Sen. Mark Herring has raised $1.6 million to Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain’s $1.2 million.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) gave a fiery speech after Lieberman, lambasting the Republicans in the House of Representatives who he said have been obstructionists, hurting the country by blocking meaningful legislation.

“There’s always going to be people who want plunder villages for their own benefit,” Moran said.

Herring and Northam spoke in more tempered tones than Moran and McAuliffe, emphasizing their strongest issues — Herring on the social issues that have come to the fore in Cuccinelli’s tenure as Attorney General, Northam on the Chesapeake Bay and healthcare.

“I will be a bulwark against the radicalization of Mark Obenshain, E.W. Jackson and Ken Cuccinelli,” Herring said.

Monday afternoon, the Republican Party of Virginia issued a response to the Democrats’ speeches.

“It’s only fitting Terry McAuliffe, Ralph Northam, and Mark Herring all landed on the ticket together, because they support higher taxes, more spending and burdensome regulations,” said Jahan Wilcox, spokesman for the Republican Party of Virginia. “With liberals like McAuliffe, Northam and Herring wanting to usher in a new era of job-killing tax hikes, Ken Cuccinelli and the Republican Party are advocating pro-growth economic policies that will lower taxes and create jobs for Virginians.”

McAuliffe also spent time talking about the state’s transportation issues, commending Gov. Bob McDonnell on his work to pass the state’s new transportation bill. He railed against Virginia’s low pay of teachers, and promised to opt into the Medicaid expansion clause of the Affordable Care Act.

Concluding his remarks, McAuliffe said he plans to be the one to break the Virginia’s habit, since 1977, of electing a governor from the opposite party of the President of the United States.

“I have to stop a 40-year jinx,” he said. “Whoever wins the White House, the other party has won the governor’s race, but I’m going to break it.”

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