Previewing New Jersey’s, Virginia’s upcoming gubernatorial primaries

Welcome to the Friday, May 28, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. New Jersey, Virginia to hold gubernatorial primaries on June 8
  2. Reviewing state proof-of-vaccination requirements
  3. Don’t miss our 2021 primary preview briefing

New Jersey, Virginia to hold gubernatorial primaries on June 8

Two states—New Jersey and Virginia—are holding top-level state executive elections this year. Virginia Democrats and both parties in New Jersey will hold statewide primaries to choose nominees in less than two weeks—on June 8. 

In the New Jersey primary, voters will choose a ticket comprised of a nominee for governor and nominee for lieutenant governor. Virginia voters will separately choose the Democratic nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general. Wisconsin also held an election for superintendent of public instruction in April.

The Republican Party of Virginia selected nominees for statewide offices during an unassembled convention on May 8. Both states’ general elections are on Nov. 2.

Here is a summary of the gubernatorial primaries voters will decide on June 8:

New Jersey Governor

Four candidates—Jack Ciattarelli, Brian Levine, Philip Rizzo, and Hirsh Singh—are competing for the Republican nomination. Ciattarelli served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 2011 to 2018. He finished second to then-Lieutenant Gov. Kim Guadagno in the 2017 Republican primary for governor. Singh finished third in the 2017 GOP primary for governor and was the runner-up in both the 2018 Republican primary in New Jersey’s 2nd Congressional District and the 2020 Republican primary for U.S. Senate.

Incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D) faces write-in candidate Lisa McCormick in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Murphy defeated Guadagno, 56% to 42%, in the 2017 general election to win his first term. Two of the three major election rating outlets rated the general election as Solid Democratic, and the third rated it as Likely Democratic. The last Democratic governor to win re-election in New Jersey was Brendan Byrne in 1977. Since then, two incumbent Democratic governors—Jim Florio in 1993 and Jon Corzine in 2009—lost re-election to Republican challengers.  

Virginia Governor

Five candidates are running in the Democratic primary. Incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) is unable to seek re-election due to term limits. Three candidates—Jennifer Carroll Foy, Terry McAuliffe, and Jennifer McClellan—are leading in fundraising and noteworthy endorsements. 

Carroll Foy served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2018 to 2020. She previously worked as a magistrate judge and public defender. McAuliffe was governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018 and chaired the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005. McClellan is a member of the Virginia Senate and served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 2006 to 2018. She is currently the vice chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus. 

Glenn Youngkin, a former co-CEO and president of global investment firm The Carlyle Group, defeated six candidates in the Republican Party of Virginia’s convention on May 8 to become the party’s gubernatorial nominee. Democrats have won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012.

Nationwide, there are 27 Republican governors and 23 Democratic governors.

Reviewing state proof-of-vaccination requirements

More than 50 percent of eligible Americans have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, according to the CDC. As vaccination numbers have increased, policy discussions have been ongoing in government regarding various rules around the use of proof-of-vaccination requirements. These have taken on two primary forms:

  • Bans on proof-of-vaccination requirements in certain circumstances 
  • Implementing policies—sometimes called vaccine passports—that allow vaccinated people to bypass COVID-19 restrictions or engage in activities unavailable to unvaccinated people.

Thirteen states—Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah—have prohibited proof-of-vaccination requirements at all or some levels of government. All 13 of those states have a Republican governor. In Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Montana, and Texas, bans on proof-of-vaccination requirements extend to some private businesses. Governors in eight states banned proof-of-vaccination requirements through executive orders. In five states, legislators passed laws banning proof-of-vaccination requirements.

Three states with Democratic governors—Hawaii, New York, and Oregon—exempt fully vaccinated individuals from some COVID-19 restrictions if they can provide proof of vaccination. In Hawaii, inter-island travelers can upload their vaccination status to a digital application that allows them to bypass travel restrictions. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) launched Excelsior Pass, a voluntary app vaccinated people can use to access sections at outdoor venues reserved for fully vaccinated individuals. In Oregon, businesses that verify vaccine status can allow customers to forego masks.

For the most recent coronavirus news, including the latest on vaccines and government responses to the pandemic, subscribe to our daily newsletter, Documenting America’s Path to Recovery.


Don’t miss our 2021 primary preview briefing

It may be an odd-numbered year after a presidential election cycle, but at Ballotpedia, that’s no reason to take a breather from election coverage. We are digging deep into state and local elections in 2021, covering the two states with gubernatorial and state legislative elections along with municipal elections in 71 cities across the country, special congressional elections, and more.

On Wednesday, June 2, Marquee Team staff writer Amée LaTour and I will discuss 2021’s battleground primaries, including those for governor in Virginia and New Jersey, as well as New York City’s first-ever ranked choice voting mayoral primary. Join us to learn who’s running, what’s at stake, and how the issues are unfolding in this year’s primaries.

The briefing will be held at 11:00 a.m. Central Time. Can’t make it at that time? We’ll send you a recording after the call. Click the link below to register today!

Register here