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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — For four years, nothing rallied Democrats like the push to get Donald Trump out of office. Now, they’re not sure what to do without him.

Democrats in Virginia are scrambling to stave off disaster in the state’s governor’s race — the most competitive major election since Trump left the White House. The surprisingly tight contest has exposed the depth of the party’s dependence on Trump as a message and motivator. Without him top of mind for many, and with headwinds from Washington, Democratic officials privately fear they may lose their first statewide election in Virginia in more than a decade on Tuesday.

Public polling has been shifting in Republican newcomer Glenn Youngkin’s direction in recent weeks, while Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a former governor and close ally of President Joe Biden, has struggled to energize his base as Biden’s approval ratings sink. Republicans, consumed by infighting and crisis while Trump was in office, are suddenly optimistic they can win in a state Trump lost by 10 percentage points last year.

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