The day of the primary will be a test for the future of the Virginia Democratic Party
RICHMOND, Virginia – Starting at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning, Election Day polls open in primary contests across the Commonwealth. In what is the biggest prize of the day, Virginia Democrats will select their nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
All three races saw hotly contested races, with more than a dozen contestants between the three positions. Topping the list in the gubernatorial race, five candidates have spent the final days of the campaign trying to part ways with a crowded field that includes a former governor, seasoned lawmakers and a Democratic Socialist.
The winner of this primary battle is seen as a litmus test for where the Virginia Democrats want to go as a party to move forward.
Former Governor Terry McAuliffe spent Monday traveling across the Commonwealth to chat with small business owners, teachers and voters. McAuliffe, who heads a pseudo-incumbent since Virginia law prevents governors from running for consecutive terms, said his plans focus on post-COVID recovery.
“Let’s make Virginia number one, but we have big, huge inequalities that we need to address, especially in housing, education, and health care delivery,” McAuliffe said. “My message to everyone is that we have to go big and we have to be bold. We can’t tinker around the edges. The states that rebuild better when coming out of COVID, stronger, are the states that will thrive over the next 40 to 50 years. “
McAuliffe argued that endorsements from hundreds of local and state leaders show Democrats want his experience in the executive mansion during this time of recovery.
“Twice as many members of the General Assembly supported me than everyone else gathered,” he said.
The other candidates in the race have presented McAuliffe as a past leader who is not suited at this time, particularly in the wake of last summer’s racial justice protests across Virginia. State Senator Jeniffer McClellan (Richmond), Jennifer Carroll Foy and Del. Lee Carter (Manassas) were the sharpest in their attacks on McAuliffe.
“Inevitability only exists if we allow it. Virginians are ready for change. They are ready for a new leader with clear ideas and a bold vision to move us forward, ”Carroll Foy said in an interview during a trip from Petersburg to Northern Virginia.
The former public defender, delegate and active mother of a family said her education in Petersburg, a city that has seen decades of economic disinvestment and educational inequities, informs her political positions.
“I can say that I have always been on the good side of the working families and the marginalized who need help the most. I understand the issues they face. It’s not just about empathizing; I couldn’t afford the high cost of health care and had to do several jobs living from paycheck to paycheck, ”she said.
Carroll Foy said creating quality, well-paying jobs with healthcare in undersized communities and fully funding public education are top priorities.
State Senator McClellan spent Monday in Richmond and Charlottesville, meeting with canvassers and voters to energize her supporters ahead of Election Day. McClellan said his campaign focused on connecting with voters at the local level, saying his campaign reached hundreds of thousands of voters in Virginia during the primary.
“They are ready for the next generation of leaders, not to go back,” said McClellan.
At Broad Rock Park on Monday afternoon, McClellan thanked organizers of New Virginia Majority, one of the many progressive groups that backed his campaign. She said her work as a lawmaker for over 15 years shows she has the experience and connections to activists that set her apart from the field.
“I bring a new perspective and the next generation of leaders, but also the experience to get things done from day one. And on most of the issues that people care about, I’ve been doing the job for a long time, ”she said.
Delegate Lee Carter was the campaign chairman of Bernie Sanders in Virginia and embraces the label of Democratic Socialist. Carter told CBS News that his economic platform is focused on workers’ rights and said he refuses to receive campaign contributions from big business and political action committees linked to big business.
“I’m the only candidate in this 100% grassroots primary, so the people of Virginia know that I am working 100% for them and not for any of these special interests,” Carter said in an interview on weekend. “I will fight to make sure that you don’t just have a job for someone else, that you have the ownership and control of your workplace and the ownership and control of your own economic destiny. . “
Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax cited his decisive votes in the Virginia Senate to pass the expansion of Medicaid and the legalization of marijuana in Virginia as examples of his interest in justice issues.
“I will fight to make sure that you don’t just have a job for someone else, that you have ownership and control of your workplace, and ownership and control of your own destiny. economic, ”he said. “There are so many people who feel like they’ve been left behind. They feel like they really need a champion in government who supports them and understands their experiences. “
The lieutenant governor’s race is also crowded ground for Democrats. Six people are asking for the nomination:
Delegate Elizabeth Guzman will appear on the ballot but has withdrawn from the competition.
A poll conducted in April by the Wason Center at Christopher Newport University found that Del. Rasoul had an advantage, but 68% of voters polled were still undecided in the race.
In the Attorney General’s contest, Mark Herring is running for a third term, but faces a sharp challenge from Delegate Jay Jones, who is part of a young, progressive group of state lawmakers and has been endorsed. of Governor Northam.
Virginia Republicans selected their candidates statewide at a party convention last month. Glen Youngkin won the gubernatorial nomination, Winsome Sears is the GOP lieutenant governor candidate and delegate Jason Miyares is the party’s attorney general candidate.
The Virginia Public Access Project reports that 114,000 ballots were cast at the start of the 2021 primary. In 2017, the last gubernatorial primary for the Virginia Democrats, 542,000 ballots were cast in total, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
For more information on polling day polls and local races in your area, visit this website.