Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) urged LGBT Virginians to turn out and vote in the statewide election in November in an appearance on Sept. 23, at the annual Virginia Pride Fest in Richmond.
McAuliffe’s appearance at the LGBT event, which drew more than 30,000 people, marked the third time he attended the event since taking office as governor in 2014.
“The governor was thrilled to speak at the event this weekend and thanked the attendees for standing up for equal rights in our Commonwealth,” McAuliffe’s press secretary, Brian Coy, told the Washington Blade.
“He talked about how important open and inclusive policies are to economic growth in Virginia and he urged attendees to stay engaged with the upcoming elections and vote for candidates who will continue the progress we have made on equal rights and a stronger economy,” Coy said.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, who is running as a Democrat to succeed McAuliffe in the November election, did not attend the Virginia Pride Fest event but his campaign workers circulated throughout the festival grounds reminding LGBT voters of Northam’s longstanding support for LGBT rights.
Under Virginia law governors can only serve one four-year term in office. McAuliffe has endorsed Northam, who is being challenged by Republican Ed Gillespie, the former chair of the Republican National Committee.
James Millner, president of Virginia Pride, the group that produces the Pride Fest event, said Richmond Mayor Levar M. Stoney also appeared and spoke at the Pride event, becoming the first Richmond mayor to appear at a Pride festival.
Millner said this year’s Pride Fest included about 125 vendor booths consisting of nonprofit LGBT and LGBT supportive organizations as well as LGBT supportive businesses and corporate sponsors. He said the number of vendor booths represented an increase from about 85 that participated in last year’s Pride Fest.
“We very consciously sought out vendors and participants and organizations that really demonstrate the diversity of the community, both LGBTQ and our allies, whether they are faith based organizations, whether they are nonprofit advocacy groups, or whether they are for profit businesses that are selling their wares – all of that comes together to create a remarkable experience for people who come to this event,” said Millner, who worked as a communications spokesperson for D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Health before moving to Richmond.