September 24, 2013 at 8:50 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
McAuliffe maintains lead over Cuccinelli in new poll
Terry McAuliffe, Christopher Schaffer, Levar Stoney, Equality Virginia, gay news, Washington Blade

Terry McAuliffe (center) at an Equality Virginia fundraiser in Arlington, Va. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

A new poll shows former Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe’s lead over Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the commonwealth’s gubernatorial race has grown slightly.

47 percent of likely voters who took part in the Washington Post-Abt SRBI poll back McAuliffe, compared to 39 percent who support Cuccinelli. 10 percent of respondents said they support Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Robert Sarvis.

The Washington Post-Abt SRBI poll comes less than a week after a Quinnipiac University survey found McAuliffe ahead of Cuccinelli by a 44-41 percent margin. The two men will square off against each other during a Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce-sponsored debate in McLean on Wednesday that MSNBC’s Chuck Todd will moderate.

“This contest has been and remains a close race featuring a significant percentage of undecided voters,” Cuccinelli campaign spokesperson Richard T. Cullen said in a statement late on Monday. “It’s important to note that Ken Cuccinelli has a significant enthusiasm advantage and Terry McAuliffe has a history of losing support towards the end as voters learn more about him.”

GOP lieutenant gubernatorial candidate again speaks against gay marriage

Virginia Democrats and LGBT rights advocates have repeatedly criticized Cuccinelli; Republican lieutenant gubernatorial candidate E.W. Jackson and state Sen. Mark Obenshein (R-Harrisonburg,) who is running for attorney general, over their opposition to same-sex marriage and other gay-specific issues. Jackson and Obenshein will square off against state Sens. Ralph Northam (D-Norfolk) and Mark Herring (D-Loudoun) respectively in November.

Chief Justice John Roberts last month denied Cuccinelli’s request to place a stay on a three-judge panel’s March ruling against Virginia’s anti-sodomy statute while the U.S. Supreme Court considers his appeal of it. Cuccinelli said during a July debate against McAuliffe that Judy Woodruff of PBS NewsHour moderated that his “personal beliefs about the personal challenge of homosexuality haven’t changed.”

Jackson, a Chesapeake minister who has compared gay men to pedophiles and described them as “very sick people,” again highlighted his opposition to marriage rights for same-sex couples while speaking at Restoration Fellowship Church in Strasburg in Shenandoah County. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported the lieutenant Republican gubernatorial candidate also disagreed with Pope Francis’ suggestion the Roman Catholic Church has grown “obsessed” with nuptials for gays and lesbians, abortion and contraception.

“The family was ordained by God,” Jackson said at the church as the Times-Dispatch reported. “He ordained it one man and one woman in the bonds of holy matrimony. (In the Bible) I don’t hear anything about two people of the same sex being married.”

The Washington Post-Abt SRBI poll shows Northam leads Jackson by a 45-42 point margin. Herring is also ahead of Obenshein by the same margin.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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