Because Virginia is the only state in the country that bars governors from serving consecutive terms, voters there are heading to the polls on Tuesday to select a Democrat that could succeed Gov. Ralph Northam. In Tuesday’s Democratic primary, voters will also be selecting their candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general, along with various House of Delegates and local seats.
The most closely followed race is for governor. Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who was pretty popular as governor, is on the ballot. He’s got the name recognition and the money. McAuliffe is vying for a comeback, a near-novelty because only one person has twice occupied the Virginia Executive Mansion since the Civil War.
But the former governor isn’t exactly running unopposed. And two of his competitors would make history as the country’s first Black woman governor: former delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (Prince William) and State Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan (Richmond). They would also be the second woman ever elected to a statewide office in Virginia. Carroll Foy—a former public defender who got elected to office during the blue wave of 2017—has the support of a dozen labor unions, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, and gathered a few national endorsements from progressive groups including the Working Families Party and Sunrise Movement. Meanwhile, McClellan—a longtime public servant—has the support from many sitting members of Virginia’s state legislature, according to FiveThirtyEight, as well as the local chapter of the abortion-rights group NARAL.
Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax—a rising political star who was the second Black person to win a statewide race in Virginia, but whose career took a hit after allegations of rape in 2019—and Del. Lee J. Carter (Manassas)—a self-declared socialist—are also running for governor. Whoever wins will run against former private-equity chief Glenn Youngkin, who Republicans chose by convention a month ago. The gubernatorial race is expected to be one of the most expensive in the state’s history.
Pundits view the race as an important indicator of the electorate heading into the 2022 midterm elections, seeing as Virginia is one of two states holding a gubernatorial election the year after the presidential election. The other is New Jersey, which is more Democratic-leaning.
Four years ago, Democrats unified against Donald Trump and won all three statewide offices—governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Could Democrats do it again? Well, they sure as hell hope so.
“We need not have Donald Trump in the White House for our people to get out and vote, because Trumpism is alive and well in the Virginia Republican Party,” Speaker of the State House Eileen Filler-Corn told the Times.
What will turnout be? That’s the question.
Early voting started in April. So far, turnout has surpassed that of the 2017 primaries. According to the Virginia Public Access Project, 114,616 votes have been cast in-person or by mail as of June 8. That’s a huge increase compared to the 26,575 early votes cast in 2017. (For context, Democrats made voting a lot easier after they took control of the state legislature in 2019.) Ultimately, more than 543,000 Virginians voted in the 2017 Democratic primary for governor. What turnout looks like on Tuesday will give the public some early clues for November—do Democrats need a Trump bump? “More specifically: Was the dramatic leftward shift of suburban voters in recent elections merely a Trump-era phenomenon, or did it represent a more permanent change?” writes Elaine Godfrey for the Atlantic.
Voters have until 7 p.m. on Tuesday to get in line to vote in-person. Virginia law requires voters to bring ID. According to Virginia’s Department of Elections, if a voter gets to the polling place without an acceptable ID, they can sign a statement affirming their identity to get a regular ballot. Voters can find a polling place on the department’s website.
Check out WSLS 10 coverage on the Lieutenant Governor race, and WTOP’s voter guide on House of Delegates races to watch. Several reporters from the Post are also visiting polling stations, so follow them for on-the-ground updates. We are in for quite a day.
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Sliding into a red leather booth at Caruso’s Grocery with a martini in hand and […]
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