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After debate, Fairfax Chamber backs Democrats

After debate, Fairfax Chamber backs Democrats

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The political arm of the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce has endorsed the Democratic ticket for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.

The coveted endorsement of NOVABizPAC -- which backed Republican Bob McDonnell in 2009, is a key pickup for Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

The Democrat was stung last week by the Northern Virginia Technology Council's TechPAC endorsement of Republican rival Ken Cuccinelli. McAuliffe later was embarrassed when word leaked that his supporters tried to convince the group to withdraw its support of the attorney general.

Today's announcement follows a contentious, chamber-sponsored televised debate between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli Wednesday that saw each portray the other as unfit for the Executive Mansion.

The organization also endorsed Sen. Ralph S. Northam, D-Norfolk, for lieutenant governor over GOP rival E.W. Jackson, and Sen. Mark Herring, D-Loudoun, for attorney general over Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg.

A news release issued by NOVABizPAC said McAuliffe won the endorsement "based on his pro-business policy positions and proposals."

"Mr. McAuliffe was a major supporter of Governor McDonnell’s landmark transportation funding legislation and a consistent supporter of rail to Dulles," airport, Jim Corcoran, Fairfax chamber president and a trustee of NOVABizPAC, said in the release.

"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 longstanding right to work laws."

McAuliffe issued a statement saying "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."

In 2009, NOVABizPAC did not interview or endorse candidates in the lieutenant governor's race, but supported then-Del. Steve Shannon, a Fairfax Democrat, over Cuccinelli for attorney general.

Cuccinelli's campaign issued a statement trumpeting the list of business endorsements their candidate has corralled, including the TechPAC endorsement and Monday's backing by the National Federation of Independent Business.

Spokeswoman Anna Nix said Cuccinelli is "the only candidate with a credible, substantive plan that will create 58,000 jobs and ensure our young people can make immediate contributions in the workforce."

In other endorsements, NOVABizPAC favored Northam based on his support for the Fairfax Chamber's legislative priorities and for his "record and experience in the Virginia Senate."

The group endorsed Herring for "serving the Northern Virginia business community well in the state Senate," and highlighted Herring's "commitment to Virginia's right to work laws, Governor McDonnell's landmark transportation funding plan and economic development initiatives."

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