The Virginia Police Benevolent Association (VPBA) board of directors held on Thursday their candidate screening event, to which they invited the contenders from both parties running for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
According to Sean McGowan, executive director of the VPBA, invitations to the event were sent out earlier this month on June 9 with a reminder sent to candidates on June 21.
The three Republican candidates — Glenn Youngkin, Jason Miyares and Winsome Sears — all showed up to meet with the representatives from the police union and take questions from them.
The three Democratic candidates did not attend.
Mark Herring, the current attorney general running for reelection, told the VPBA he would not be attending the event on Wednesday — the day before the event — while the Democrat gubernatorial candidate and the candidate running for the state’s number two position didn’t respond to the VPBA, according to the union. Both Herring and McAuliffe did attend the event in previous campaigns.
“We are concerned and surprised that none of the Democratic candidates were willing to meet with our representatives and discuss issues that are important to our members,” McGowan told Fox News in a Thursday email. “This is the first time in the history of the Virginia PBA that an entire ticket refused to meet with our law enforcement representatives.”
McGowan also noted that the screening process that happens each election is nonpartisan and that the VPBA “has a long record of endorsements for candidates from both parties.”
“Our members wished to hear from all of the candidates on qualified immunity, state law enforcement benefits, [the] Brady Giglio law, Second Amendment stances, procedural guarantee for officers and other issues that impact our members working lives, but sadly Terry McAuliffe, Hala Ayala and Mark Herring decided that this process was not a priority for them,” McGowan said.
Youngkin campaign spokesman Christian Martinez told Fox News that McAuliffe “turned his back on law enforcement” by endorsing an end to qualified immunity for police officers, which would he said would lead to officers “targeted with frivolous lawsuits and personally bankrupted just for doing their job.”
“McAuliffe’s anti-police agenda will cause chaos in our communities by making it impossible to recruit new officers and causing mass retirements,” Martinez added. “The 43% increase in the murder rate and the increase in the rape rate every year when McAuliffe was governor was terrible, but that will pale in comparison to the explosion of crime that will occur if McAuliffe gets a third term.”
The VPBA has a history of endorsing candidates from both sides of the aisle, including previously endorsing Herring in 2013, with the union saying back then that a vote for the then-attorney general candidate was “a vote for the men and women of law enforcement and the citizens they serve.”
That same year, the VPBA endorsed the Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli over McAuliffe after interviewing both candidates.
This is not the first political spat with law enforcement for McAuliffe. In 2017, the Virginia Sheriffs Association accused the then-governor of canceling a budget meeting in retaliation over the majority of Old Dominion sheriffs throwing their hat behind Republican candidate Ed Gillespie.
The McAuliffe, Ayala and Herring campaigns did not return Fox News’ request for comment.