Signs of McAuliffe panic as polls collapse and campaign tries to ‘kill’ a story about hiring notorious election lawyer Mark Elias

A new poll of likely voters conducted for Fox News (whose polls traditionally favor Democrats) shows a collapse in the lead Terry McAuliffe enjoyed about 2 weeks ago into an 8-percent lead for his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin.  This is well beyond the claimed margin of error of plus or minus 3 points and may even be beyond the margin of cheating.  And actions yesterday by the McAuliffe campaign point to panic.


When news leaked out that the campaign had already paid former Perkins Coie election law practice head Mark Elias $53,680 and a Fox News reporter contacted the campaign for comment, a reply apparently intended for other campaign staff was quickly sent as a reply, and it read, "Can we try to kill this?"  That looks like sheer panic.  The campaign tried to spin it, but the words tell a stark tale.

Tyler O'Neil writes:

Less than a month before Election Day, McAuliffe's campaign spent $53,680 on the services of the Elias Law Group, a firm that Marc Elias started earlier this year, Fox News previously reported. Elias had formerly worked as a partner at the law firm Perkins Coie, which the Hillary Clinton campaign hired in 2016 in order to conduct opposition research on Donald Trump — research that included the infamous Christopher Steele dossier. Republicans have accused Elias of lying to hide the Clinton campaign's role in funding the dossier.

Elias has represented Democrats in efforts to contest elections. Going into the 2020 election, he represented Democrats challenging a Texas law barring "straight-ticket voting." 

Coincident with the indictment by John Durham of Elias's colleague at Perkins Coie, Elias and more than a dozen other election law practice attorneys left Perkins Coie to establish a new election law firm, headed by Elias.  That is the firm evidently engaged by the McAuliffe campaign.

Jonathan Turley called the engagement of such a notorious lawyer "astonishing."

Elias is a critical figure in the ongoing Durham investigation and has been accused of lying to the media to hide the role of the Clinton campaign in funding the Steele dossier. His former law partner Michael Sussmann at Perkins Coie was recently indicted by Durham.  Elias has also led efforts to challenge Democratic losses, even as he denounces Republicans for such election challenges.  Elias has been sanctioned in past litigation.

Like Sussmann, Elias has left Perkins Coie.  He ironically created a law firm specializing in campaign ethics. McAuliffe may be preparing to challenge any win by Republican Glenn Youngkin. (snip)

McAuliffe does not appear disturbed by Elias' highly controversial career or his possible exposure in the Durham investigation.

Turley previously noted:

Throughout the campaign, the Clinton campaign denied any involvement in the creation of the so-called Steele dossier's allegations of Trump-Russia connections. However, weeks after the election, journalists discovered that the Clinton campaign hid payments for the dossier made to a research firm, Fusion GPS, as "legal fees" among the $5.6 million paid to the campaign's law firm. New York Times reporter Ken Vogel said at the time that Clinton lawyer Marc Elias, with the law firm of Perkins Coie, denied involvement in the anti-Trump dossier. When Vogel tried to report the story, he said, Elias "pushed back vigorously, saying 'You (or your sources) are wrong.'" Times reporter Maggie Haberman declared, "Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year."

It was not just reporters who asked the Clinton campaign about its role in the Steele dossier. John Podesta, Clinton's campaign chairman, was questioned by Congress and denied categorically any contractual agreement with Fusion GPS. Sitting beside him was Elias, who reportedly said nothing to correct the misleading information given to Congress.

Yesterday, Turley continued:

That makes the choice of counsel astonishing given these allegations from reporters and McAuliffe's previous assertion that "someone who lies about the little things will lie about the big things too."

While the Fox News poll might be dismissed by some as an outlier, the same pollster using the same protocols found a rapid reversal of a solid lead into a substantial deficit in support.

I have to wonder if the poll and the evident panic in the McAuliffe campaign are causing House Democrats to balk at following Speaker Pelosi's lead in advocating passage of the so-called "infrastructure" bill that President Biden also lobbied for prior to his departure for Europe.  Evidence that voters are rebelling against the Democrats' move to the hard left, even in a reliably (in recent years) blue state like Virginia, may be giving them pause — especially since McAuliffe's focus on Trump as a campaign issue does not seem to have persuaded voters.

Still, almost 700,000 mail-in votes already have been cast, and 55% of them are from "likely" Democrats.  And as has happened elsewhere, unsuspected stores of mail-in ballots have turned a number of apparent  Republican victories into defeats.

To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.

If you experience technical problems, please write to