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Sleepy Democratic primary in Virginia winds to an end

First Read is your briefing from "Meet the Press" and the NBC Political Unit on the day's most important political stories and why they matter.
Terry McAuliffe,Ralph Northam
Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, right, during a news conference with Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, left, in Norfolk, Va., on April 8, 2021.Steve Helber / AP file

WASHINGTON — The first statewide Democratic primary of the Biden Era hasn’t featured much drama or any real shakeups — at least so far.

With four days to go until Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial primary, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe remains the clear frontrunner, with former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan running to be the state’s (and country’s) first Black female governor.

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and state Del. Lee Carter also are in the field of candidates.

But there has yet to be any real surprise in the primary (other than McAuliffe getting the Washington Post’s endorsement).

No memorable clashes in the four Democratic debates (with the exception of Fairfax claiming he was treated like George Floyd and Emmett Till).

No shocking poll results (though the public polling has been pretty scarce).

And no truly negative TV ads.

In a lot of ways, this first statewide primary of the Biden Era has resembled the current president’s first few months on the job — a lowered political temperature, a lot less drama and no crazy twists and turns.

And that this race looks like Biden’s party — with the central debate being whether to stay the course or to go in a new direction — most likely benefits McAuliffe, especially in a state like Virginia (which Biden won easily in the 2020 primaries and general election).

But make no mistake: The general election certainly won’t be sleepy — with multimillionaire GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin already spending big over the airwaves, with Donald Trump bound to be a factor, and with both parties circling this race as the marquee statewide contest of 2021.

No matter who wins Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

The final campaign sprint

On Friday, McAuliffe stumps in Richmond, Charlottesville and Lynchburg; Carroll Foy hits Sterling; and McClellan is in the Richmond area.

On Saturday, McAuliffe is in Hampton Roads, Danville and Martinsville; Carroll Foy is in Arlington, Warrenton, Richmond and Charlottesville; and McClellan is in Northern Virginia.

On Sunday, Carroll Foy is in Virginia Beach; McClellan is in Norfolk and Hampton.

On Monday, Carroll Foy is in Northern Virginia; McClellan is in Richmond.

Democrats don’t have 50 votes to go it alone on infrastructure

NBC’s Garrett Haake asked Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., if he’s ready to ready to pass a budget reconciliation bill that could allow Democrats to pass an infrastructure bill without GOP support.

Manchin’s response: Not now.

“No, I don't think you should. I really don't. ... Right now, basically we need to be bipartisan.”

So even if it appears that bipartisan talks are hitting a wall, Biden and Democrats don’t have the votes right now to go it alone.

Data Download: The numbers you need to know today

$42,150: The amount of damage to the National Mall caused by Trump’s 2020 4th of July show, per newly released documents

33,493,317: The number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States, per the most recent data from NBC News and health officials. (That’s 19,132 more than yesterday morning.)

600,171: The number of deaths in the United States from the virus so far, per the most recent data from NBC News. (That’s 597 more than yesterday morning.)

297,720,928: The number of vaccine doses administered in the U.S.

37.9 percent: The share of all Americans who are fully vaccinated, per NBC News.

52.0 percent: The share of all American adults over 18 who are fully vaccinated, per CDC.

Tweet of the day

Trump travels to North Carolina

Former President Donald Trump headlines the North Carolina state GOP convention on Saturday.

And per NBC’s Ben Kamisar, this will be a rare in-person speech for Trump, who has remained largely out of the spotlight since leaving office, although he’s been known to drop in on events at his Mar-A-Lago compound.

ICYMI: What else is happening in the world

It’s not just Arizona: Republicans around the country are pushing Maricopa-style audits of the 2020 election.

Facebook says it’s dropping its rules exempting politicians from punishment when they break the social network’s hate speech rules.

The Washington Post reports that Biden called Larry Summers, a White House critic, to discuss the economy.

Mike Pence says he may never “see eye to eye” with Trump on January 6.

Democrats worry that Biden is replaying the 2009 Obamacare debate with his insistence on bipartisan infrastructure negotiations.

Federal prosecutors are now looking into whether Matt Gaetz obstructed justice during a call with a witness in a potential sex crimes probe.

What exactly is happening with all this talk about UFOs and aliens?