Tagvirginia

Stories about Virginia

A closer look at major-party donations in the Virginia gubernatorial election

Candidates for governor of Virginia filed campaign finance reports on July 15, 2021, providing new totals in the race. The major-party candidates—Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R)—have both raised roughly $20 million for their respective campaigns, according to the most recent reports. 

A closer look at the sources of those campaign contributions shows that 94% of McAuliffe’s contributions—$19.2 million—have come from direct, itemized donations totaling more than $100. Youngkin lent his campaign $12 million, which makes up 61% of his total campaign contributions.

Itemized donations are those where information about the donor is provided in the campaign finance report including his or her name and address. Using the state data provided by the candidates’ reports, Ballotpedia found that a majority of McAuliffe’s itemized contributions—$11.2 million—came from donors outside of Virginia. The majority of Youngkin’s itemized contributions—$5.0 million—came from zip codes in Virginia. For both candidates, the largest single source of donations outside of Virginia is Washington, D.C.

An analysis of the zip codes for itemized Virginian donations shows that four of McAuliffe’s five largest sources are located in Fairfax County, in the state’s northeast, and one is located in Albemarle County, which surrounds the University of Virginia. To date, McAuliffe’s largest source of itemized donations—$1.5 million—is located in Alexandria, Va.

Three of Youngkin’s five largest sources of itemized Virginia donations are located in the independent city of Virginia Beach, in the state’s southeast. The remaining two zip codes are located in Fairfax County, and Henrico County, which includes the region surrounding the state’s capital: Richmond. Youngkin’s largest source of itemized donations—$547,675—is located in Virginia Beach, Va.

Virginians will elect a new governor in the Nov. 2 general election. Democrats have won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections since 2012. Two recent polls have shown the race about even with McAuliffe and Youngkin receiving support within the respective margins of errors. In addition to the major-party candidates, Princess Blanding, the Liberation Party candidate, will also appear on the general election ballot. She has raised $20,604 as of June 30 and has $7,739 on hand according to the most recent campaign finance reports.

To learn more about the Virginia gubernatorial election, click here.



Assessing the vulnerability of the Democratic trifectas in New Jersey and Virginia

Gubernatorial or state legislative elections are taking place in two states, New Jersey and Virginia, in 2021. Trifecta status is at stake in both states.

A trifecta exists when one party holds the governorship, a majority in the state senate, and a majority in the state house. There are currently 38 trifectas: 23 Republican trifectas and 15 Democratic trifectas. The remaining 12 states have a divided government where neither party has a trifecta. Ballotpedia has calculated the vulnerability of both trifectas with elections in 2021. Trifecta vulnerability is calculated by Ballotpedia by assessing each component’s chance of changing control. Gubernatorial races are rated using race ratings from the Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, and Inside Elections. Legislative races are assessed based on the absolute number of seats and the proportion of seats that would need to be flipped. Both chambers in a state’s legislature are evaluated individually.

New Jersey has been a Democratic trifecta since Gov. Phil Murphy (D) assumed office in 2018. It has scheduled elections for governor, all 40 state Senate seats, and all 80 state Assembly seats. Election forecasters rate the governor’s race Solid Democratic. Republicans need to either win that election, flip six out of 40 state Senate seats (15%), or flip 13 out of 80 state Assembly seats (16.25%) in order to break the Democratic trifecta. Ballotpedia therefore assesses New Jersey’s Democratic trifecta as not vulnerable.

Virginia has scheduled elections for governor and all 100 state House seats in 2021. The state is also a Democratic trifecta, and has been since the start of the 2020 legislative session. Election forecasters rate the gubernatorial election as Leans Democratic and Republicans would need to flip six of the 100 state House seats (6%). Ballotpedia has assessed Virginia’s Democratic trifecta as moderately vulnerable.

Changes in a state government’s policy priorities often follow changes in trifecta status, as trifecta control affords a political party the opportunity to advance its agenda. Gaining or breaking trifectas—or in some cases, maintaining divided government—thus often becomes a major priority for a party heading into each election cycle. Between 2010 and 2020, 72 state government trifectas were broken or gained.

Additional reading:

State government trifectas

Historical and potential changes in trifectas



Redistricting review: Virginia House of Delegates candidate sues over 2021 elections using existing maps (and other news)

Virginia: On June 28, Paul Goldman, a candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates, filed suit against Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and the Virginia State Board of Elections (among other state officials), asking that a U.S. District Court declare the Nov. 3, 2021, elections for the House of Delegates invalid, limit the terms of delegates elected in 2021 to one year, and order new elections to take place in 2022. Because members of the House of Delegates serve two-year terms, a court order to this effect would result in elections in three consecutive years: 2021, 2022, and 2023.

The Constitution of Virginia requires that elections for the House of Delegates take place every two years on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. Regularly scheduled elections occur in odd-numbered years. Because of the delayed release of U.S. Census redistricting data, redistricting authorities in Virginia were unable to draft new legislative district maps for this year’s elections. Consequently, existing maps will remain in force. Goldman argues that conducting the 2021 elections under the existing maps violates both the state and federal constitutions. Citing Cosner v. Dalton, a 1981 decision in which a federal court ordered the terms of delegates elected in 1981 under invalid maps be limited to one year, Goldman is asking that the court limit the terms of delegates elected in 2021 to one year and schedule elections under new maps in 2022.

In his complaint, Goldman said, “According to Cosner, plaintiff’s protected core political rights should allow him to run for the House of Delegates in 2022, not being forced to wait until 2023 due to the failure of the appropriate state authorities to adhere to the requirements of the federal constitution.”

Del. Marcus Simon (D), who serves on the Virginia Redistricting Committee, said the Cosner precedent does not necessarily apply to this situation: “In the 1980s, we deprived people of their civil rights, we had racially improper districts. Given the circumstances for why we don’t have districts today, I don’t know that the same urgency would apply.”

Utah: On June 30, the Utah State Legislature announced an anticipated timeline for congressional and state legislative redistricting. Under that timeline, the Legislative Redistricting Committee will hold public hearings in September and October and adopt final maps before Thanksgiving.

Wisconsin: On June 30, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R) petitioned the Wisconsin Supreme Court to reverse a lower court’s ruling that barred them from hiring private attorneys in anticipation of challenges to the redistricting process. The court set a July 8 deadline for briefs from all parties involved in the matter.

On April 29, Dane County Circuit Judge Stephen Ehlke ruled against Vos and LeMahieu and in favor of the plaintiffs, four Madison, Wisc., residents who argued that state law prohibits legislative leaders from hiring attorneys from outside the Wisconsin Department of Justice before a lawsuit has been filed. Vos and LeMahieu appealed that decision to a state appellate court, which declined to stay Ehlke’s original order. This prompted the present appeal pending before the state supreme court.

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Democrats outraise Republicans by 400% in Virginia state legislative races

Campaign finance filings for Virginia state legislative races show Democrats outpaced Republicans in fundraising. Between January 1, 2020, and May 7, 2021, Democratic primary election candidates outraised Republican candidates by 400 percent.

Democrats have a 21-19 majority in the Virginia State Senate and a 55-45 majority in the Virginia State House. State legislative primary elections were held on May 8, 2021, for Republicans and on June 8, 2021, for Democrats. In some cases, party nominees may have been chosen earlier.

So far in the election cycle, 118 Democratic candidates have raised $16.36 million compared to $3.27 million taken in by 73 Republicans.

The candidates who have raised the most money so far are incumbent Jerrauld Jones (D) in House District 89 ($1,940,351), incumbent S. Rasoul (D) in House District 11 ($1,465,694), and incumbent Eileen Filler-Corn (D) in House District 41 ($826,004).

Campaign finance requirements govern how much money candidates may receive from individuals and organizations, how much and how often they must report those contributions, and how much individuals, organizations, and political parties may contribute to campaigns. All campaign financial transactions must be made through the candidate’s committee. Campaign committees are required to file regular campaign finance disclosure reports with the Virginia Department of Elections.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.



Virginia gubernatorial candidates seek to define themselves, one another as the general election begins

Campaigns for Terry McAuliffe (D) and Glenn Youngkin (R) in the election for Governor of Virginia released new adsshortly after the major-party nominating contests came to a close in recent weeks.

Following Youngkin’s nomination on May 10, former Gov. McAuliffe released an ad titled “Virginia Forward” where he compared Youngkin to former President Donald Trump (R), saying, “Youngkin wants to bring Trump’s extremism to Virginia.” McAuliffe went on to say he would defend policies from his administration including the expansion of Medicaid, protections for reproductive rights, and the expansion of voting rights.

After McAuliffe won the Democratic primary on June 8, Youngkin released an ad titled “Time For Change” featuring one of McAuliffe’s Democratic primary opponents, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, criticizing the former governor’s tenure. At the end of the ad, Youngkin described himself as “a new kind of leader to bring a new day to Virginia.” A second ad—”A New Day”—reiterated this theme with Youngkin saying he would create jobs, improve education, and make communities more safe.

Two satellite groups—the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV)—also released ads following the nomination contests. The DGA associated Youngkin with Trump and said his main priority was, “telling the same Big Lie Trump tells about the last election and trying to restrict your right to vote in the next.” The RPV’s ad used a speech given by McAuliffe interspersed with a series of news clips from the previous eight years on topics including rates of violent crime, changes to public school curricula, and a transportation company’s decision to move out of Virginia.

A recent poll of 550 likely voters shows a close race. The poll, commissioned by CNanalytics and conducted by JMC Analytics, showed McAuliffe receiving support from 46% of respondents to Youngkin’s 42%, a difference within the poll’s ± 4.2 margin of error. The remaining 12% of the respondents were either undecided or did not respond. No third party candidates were included in the poll, though at least one candidate, Princess Blanding (I), will also appear on the general election ballot.

Every four years, the Virginia gubernatorial election is one of the first major statewide elections following the presidential election. Since 1977, the state has elected a governor from the opposite party of the president in every election except for 2013 when McAuliffe was elected governor following Barack Obama’s (D) re-election. In more recent years, Democrats have won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012.

The gubernatorial election will determine Virginia’s trifecta status. Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 for the first time since 1994 after Democrats won majorities in the House of Delegates and the state Senate. A McAuliffe victory could continue the Democratic trifecta if Democrats also retain a majority in the House of Delegates. A Youngkin victory would make Virginia a divided government since the Democrat-controlled Senate is not holding elections this year.

Learn more about the Virginia gubernatorial election here.



Decade-high number of incumbents defeated in Virginia House of Delegates primaries

Challengers defeated a decade-high four incumbents in the June 8 primaries for Virginia’s House of Delegates. Those incumbents are:

• Charles Poindexter (R) – House District 9

• Mark Levine (D) – House District 45

• Lee Carter (D) – House District 50

• Steve Heretick (D) – House District 79

These House incumbents were the first to lose in primaries since 2015, when two incumbents lost to challengers. Two incumbents also lost in the 2013 primaries, and none lost in 2011.

Two of the four incumbents—Levine and Carter—also appeared on statewide primary ballots. Levine was a candidate for lieutenant governor and Carter was a candidate for governor. Both lost in their respective statewide primaries, as well.

The Democratic primary in House District 86 between incumbent Del. Ibraheem Samirah and Irene Shin is too close to call as of June 11.

In addition to the four incumbents defeated in primary elections, six incumbents—one Democrat and five Republicans—did not seek re-election, meaning at least ten newcomers will be elected to the 100-person chamber in November.

Democrats currently hold a 55-45 majority in the chamber following its flip in 2019. Fifty Democratic incumbents and 39 Republicans are slated to appear on general election ballots in November.

To learn more about Virginia’s 2021 House of Delegates elections, click here: Virginia House of Delegates elections, 2021



Virginia cities hold municipal primaries on June 8

The primary election for Norfolk and Richmond in Virginia was on June 8. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for Nov. 2. 

In Richmond, Antionette Irving defeated William Burnett in the Democratic primary for sheriff. Irving earned 55% of the vote to Irving’s 45%. No Republican candidates filed to run.

In the Democratic primary for Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney, Ramin Fatehi won with 61% of the vote, defeating Megan Zwisohn and Amina Matheny-Willard. The Republican primary was canceled as no candidates filed to run.

Primary elections for other local offices were canceled after fewer than two candidates filed. The major party filing deadline passed on March 25.

Norfolk and Richmond are the 80th- and 100th-largest cities in the U.S. by population. They are the second-largest and fourth-largest cities in Virginia, respectively.

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Hala Ayala wins Virginia’s lieutenant governor Democratic primary

Hala Ayala (D) won the Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial Democratic primary on June 8, 2021, defeating five other candidates. Ayala received with 39.1% of the vote, followed by Sam Rasoul (D) with 25.2% and Mark Levine (D) with 11.7%.

Andria McClellan, Sean Perryman, and Xavier Warren also ran in this election. At the time of the election, Ayala, Levine, and Rasoul all served in the Virginia House of Delegates. McClellan was elected to the Norfolk City Council in 2015. Perryman’s career experience includes working as the director of social impact at the Internet Association. Warren has worked as an NFL sports agent and lobbyist for non-profit organization.

Ayala will face Republican nominee Winsome Sears in the Nov. 2 general election. Sears won his party’s nomination at a May 8 nominating convention.

The lieutenant governor serves as the president of the Virginia State Senate and may cast tie-breaking votes. The lieutenant governor is first in the line of succession to the governor; in the event the governor dies, resigns, or otherwise leaves office, the lieutenant governor becomes governor.

Of the four lieutenant governors who have been elected since 2002, three were Democrats and one was a Republican. Two of them, Tim Kaine (D) and Ralph Northam (D), went on to become governor. The lieutenant governor is popularly elected every four years by a plurality and, unlike the governor, may run for re-election.

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Incumbent Mark Herring wins Democratic attorney general primary in Virginia

Incumbent Mark Herring (D) defeated Jerrauld “Jay” Jones (D) in the Democratic primary for attorney general on June 8, 2021. Herring received 56.5% of the vote to Jones’ 43.5%.

Herring has served as Virginia’s attorney general since 2014. He was endorsed by U.S. Reps. Gerry Connolly (D) and Don Beyer (D), and The Washington Post. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) endorsed Jones.

Herring led the race in fundraising between January 1, 2020 and May 27, 2021. He raised $3.1 million and spent $1.9 million, while Jones raised $2.2 million and spent $2.0 million.

The general election for attorney general will take place on November 2. The Republican candidate is Jason Miyares (R), who won the May 8 Republican convention.

Herring was first elected in 2013, defeating Republican Mark Obenshain by 907 votes. A Republican candidate has not won statewide office in Virginia since 2009.



Former Virginia Gov. McAuliffe wins Democratic gubernatorial nomination

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe defeated four candidates to win the Democratic Party’s gubernatorial nomination in Virginia. McAuliffe received 62.3% of the vote followed by former state Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy with 19.8% and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan at 11.5%. Two other candidates—Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and state Del. Lee Carter—received less than 5% of the vote each.

In addition to his tenure as Governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018, McAuliffe chaired the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005 and was the national chairman of Hillary Clinton’s (D) 2008 presidential campaign.

Democratic Party leaders in Virginia supported McAuliffe’s primary campaign. He received endorsements from incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and 36 Democratic members of the Virginia General Assembly, including House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D) and Senate President Pro Tempore Louise Lucas (D).

McAuliffe will face Glenn Youngkin (R) in the general election. Three independent candidates—Princess Blanding, Paul Davis, and Brad Froman—will also appear on the general election ballot.

This was the fourth contested Democratic gubernatorial primary in Virginia since 1977. It was also the largest Democratic primary field for a gubernatorial nomination in the state’s history. Democrats have won every statewide election in Virginia since 2012.

Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 after Democrats gained majorities in the state House and Senate. In addition to the gubernatorial election, all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates will be up for election in November.