Candidates seeking nominations for the November elections are making their closing arguments as decision day approaches for the two major parties.
Voting has already begun for Democrats, who are holding a traditional primary election on June 8. Early voting in Loudoun began Friday, April 23. The deadline to register to vote or update a registration is Monday, May 17. The deadline to request a mailed absentee ballot is Friday, May 28 at 5 p.m. And the last day of in-person absentee voting at the registrar’s office will be Saturday, June 5 ending at 5 p.m.
Meanwhile, Republicans will hold an unconventional convention on Saturday, May 8, with COVID-19 pandemic restrictions prompting the establishment of satellite polling places across the state instead of a single central location. In the 10th Congressional District, which includes Loudoun, that will be at the district party’s headquarters at 20098 Ashbrook Place in Ashburn from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Voting will take place the day before, Friday, May 7, for registered delegates unable to vote Saturday for religious reasons, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The deadline to sign up as a delegate has passed.
Republicans will also be choosing candidates with ranked-choice voting. As the Republican Party of Virginia has decided that all ballots will be hand-counted at a single central location, it could be up to a week before all the votes are tabulated and certified. The party plans to certify winners by May 15.
Republicans Seek to Reclaim Power
Republicans will be looking for candidates to lead them to reclaiming power in the General Assembly for the first time since 2019, and give them their first statewide win since 2009. And the Republican field for that is wide and varied.
For governor alone, Republicans will choose from among state Sen. Amanda Chase, state delegate and former Speaker of the House of Delegate Kirk Cox, retired Army colonel and former Trump deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Sergio de la Peña, former think tank executive Peter Doran, former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson, entrepreneur and longtime party operative Pete Snyder and former private equity CEO Glenn Youngkin. Youngkin, of Great Falls, in Purcellville on Tuesday claimed to have the most delegates signed up for the convention.
For lieutenant governor, they will choose from among Puneet Ahluwalia, Lance Allen, Del. Glenn Davis, former Del. Tim Hugo, Maeve Rigler and former Del. Winsome Sears. And for attorney general, they will choose from among Chesterfield County Supervisor Leslie Haley, Del. Jason Miyares, Chuck Smith and Jack White.
And while they are mounting challenges against many incumbent Democrats in the House of Delegates, and Del. Dave A. LaRock (R-33) is seeking re-election, locally none of those Republican hopefuls have a convention challenge.
Democrat Primary Could Unseat Incumbents
Democrats, meanwhile, have not all lined up behind the incumbents—especially for Attorney General and Leesburg resident Mark Herring. After backing out of a talked-about run for the governor’s office, Herring is seeking an historic third term. But Gov. Ralph Northam announced in March that he would endorse the challenger Del. Jerrauld C. “Jay” Jones (D-98) of Norfolk.
Both Herring and Northam faced insurrections in their party after photos surfaced in February 2019 of Northam wearing blackface in a 1984 medical school yearbook. Herring was among those who called for Northam’s resignation at the time.
Four days later, Herring disclosed that he, too, had worn a costume with what he called “brown makeup,” in 1980, and faced his own calls to resign. Neither did.
In this race, Herring has local support including from Sen. Jennifer B. Boysko (D-33), Del. Wendy W. Gooditis (D-10), Loudoun County Chair Phyllis J. Randall (D-At Large), Leesburg Mayor Kelly Burk, Vice Mayor Marty Martinez and council members Neil Steinberg, Ara Bagdasarian and Zach Cummings. But Jones has notched endorsements from locals including Sen. John J. Bell (D-13), Dels. David A. Reid (D-32) and Ibraheem Samirah (D-86).
Jones is not far behind Herring in fundraising, with the campaign bringing in $1.28 million to Herring’s $1.76 million according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
Herring’s election to a second term was already a rare one, the first Virginia Attorney General to serve two terms since Mary Sue Terry, who resigned in January 1993 to run for governor. If elected a third time, he will be the first person to hold the office for three terms since Abram Penn Staples, who left the office in 1947 after the General Assembly elected him to the state Supreme Court.
Meanwhile in the 86th District, incumbent Ibraheem S. Samirah faces a challenge from Irene Shin. Locally, Samirah still enjoys support from Del. Suhas Subramanyam (D-87) and Loudoun Supervisors Juli E. Briskman (D-Algonkian) and Koran T. Saines (D-Sterling), along with a broad swath of other elected officials and special interest groups. But one Loudoun representative, Sen. Jennifer B. Boysko (D-33), announced April 26 that she is supporting the challenger, Shin.
And in the 34th District, incumbent Kathleen J. Murphy faces a challenge from Samirah’s former campaign manager, Jennifer M. Adeli.
Herring, Youngkin, Snyder Dominate Fundraising
Wealthy former private equity CEO Youngkin has by far the best-funded campaign of any candidate in a Republican race. The nearest follower is another wealthy candidate but one with deep political connections, Pete Snyder of Charlottesville. But both are their own top donors; Youngkin donated $5.5 million to his own campaign, and Snyder donated $5.2 million, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
That also means the majority of those campaigns’ spending is self-funded. In total, Youngkin has raised $7.7 million, Snyder $6.8 million. The next nearest competitor is state delegate and former Speaker of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox, whose campaign has raised $1.1 million.
But neither can compare to the fundraising by former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who is seeking a second term after handing Northam the keys to the Executive Mansion in 2018. McAuliffe’s campaign has raked in $9.9 million, almost three times as much as his closest fundraising challenger, former state delegate Jennifer D. Carroll Foy with $3.7 million. And McAuliffe’s single largest contributor is Common Good VA, his political action committee, which has given the campaign $1.6 million in this election cycle.
Democrats can also choose from among former state delegate Jennifer D. Carroll Foy, state Sen. Jennifer L. McClellan, current Lieutenant Governor Justin E. Fairfax, and Del. Lee J. Carter.
For the race for lieutenant governor, Democrats will choose from Norfolk City Councilmember Andria P. McClellan, Del. Elizabeth R. Guzman, Del. Hala S. Ayala, Del. Mark H. Levine, Del. S. “Sam” Rasoul, Sean A. Perryman, and Xavier JaMar Warren.
Virginia governors cannot serve consecutive terms, and seldom serve twice. If McAuliffe were elected governor a second time, he would be the first since Mills Godwin, who was elected in 1966 as a Democrat—and then in 1974 as a Republican. The last person to serve two terms before that was Confederate Major General William Smith, taking office in 1846 and again in 1864.
This article was updated April 30 at 8:46 p.m. to correct an error regarding Del. Wendy Gooditis’s endorsement.