The Virginia Professional Fire Fighters Association (VPFF) endorsed Terry McAuliffe in his bid to return to the governor’s mansion, thanking him for his support for fire fighters and paramedics and vowing to join him on the campaign trail.

McAuliffe is running in a tight race for governor against Republican Glenn Youngkin to replace Governor Ralph Northam, whose term ends in 2022. Northam replaced McAuliffe after his first four-year term in 2018.

“Thank you for all that you did for us in Commonwealth in the four years you were here and all that you will do in four more years. Virginia fire fighters will be with you on the campaign trail every step of the way,” said VPFF President Robert Bragg.

General President Ed Kelly joined the VPFF for the endorsement announced at the headquarters of the Fairfax County Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Local 2068 in Fairfax, Virginia. Also attending the event were 4th District Vice President Andrew Pantelis and Local 2068 President Ron Kuley.

“One of our primary jobs as elected union leaders is to protect the families of our fallen, because our members do not always come home,” said Kelly. “The only way we can do that is if we have elected officials like you with your proven track record of stepping up for fire fighters time and time again.”

McAuliffe was effusive in his thanks for the endorsement and noted the essential role fire fighters and paramedics play in a successful government. In his first term, McAuliffe rid Virginia of $2.4 billion in debt, recruited 1,100 new businesses and created 200,000 jobs, while personal income jumped 14% in the Commonwealth.

“I get a lot of credit for job creation, but none of that could have happened if I had not convinced business leaders [that] we are one of the safest states in the country. It’s fire fighters and law enforcement who make that possible,” said McAuliffe.

Virginia fire fighters will need his support in strengthening collective bargaining. Last year, Virginia legislators amended a law to allow municipalities to enact local collective bargaining ordinances. Arlington County was the first to enact collective bargaining and Fairfax and other jurisdictions are considering similar measures.

McAuliffe said he fully supports collective bargaining and other measures that will provide workers with good jobs that include benefits.

Virginia fire fighters also called on McAuliffe to join them in their efforts to strengthen the Commonwealth’s Line of Duty Act and add more cancers to its existing cancer presumption law.

“I have always been there for you because you have always been there for me. I will never forget you and I will be there every step of the way for you,” said McAuliffe.