Nov 2, 2021 - Politics

Your guide to Virginia’s down-ballot races

A look outside a Virginia polling place with lots of election signs out front.

A polling place at North County Governmental Center in Reston, VA. Photo: Kayla Sharpe/Axios

Virginia’s race for governor has captured local and national attention, but there are other consequential down-ballot races as well, Paige writes.

Why it matters: Many of the issues dominating Virginia’s election cycle, from COVID-19 policies to the economy, are also driving national politics.

  • The commonwealth’s off-year elections can be an indicator of larger voter opinion ahead of the midterms, AP reports.

The House of Delegates: Democrats are mostly playing defense, AP says, as Republicans aim to gain votes by connecting Democratic policies in Richmond to those made on the national level in Washington.

  • While Democrats are up in fundraising, they could lose control of the House if key swing districts go to Republicans, who haven’t won a statewide race since 2009.
  • The election results will be an indicator of how satisfied voters are with public policy changes led by the House’s Democratic leadership.

What we’re watching: Races in competitive suburban counties such as Prince William and Loudoun are crucial for both parties.

Yes, but: The commonwealth’s Senate election isn’t until 2023. So Democrats, who have a slim majority, will have control of at least one legislative body until then.

Lieutenant Governor: The second-highest position in the state presides over the Senate and breaks tie votes. For the first time, Virginia will have a woman of color in the position.

  • Democrat Hala Ayala, an Afro Latina, comes from the House of Delegates and previously worked in cybersecurity and helped organize the first Women’s March in 2017, The Hill reports.
  • Republican Winsome Sears, a Black veteran, also comes from the House (she made history as the first Black female Republican, the first naturalized citizen delegate, and the first female veteran to do so) and was vice president of the Virginia Board of Education.

A Washington Post/Schar School poll found Ayala held a slim majority over Sears among likely voters.

Attorney General: Democratic incumbent Mark Herring is running for a third term. He’s highlighted during the campaign his work to end the backlog of untested rape kits and to protect access to healthcare.

Republican Jason Miyares, the first Cuban American elected to Virginia’s General Assembly, has highlighted his tough-on-crime philosophy.

  • The Washington Post/Schar School poll found Herring is ahead of Miyares among likely voters.

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