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Stories about Virginia

Sears wins Virginia lieutenant governor race

Winsome Sears (R) defeated Hala Ayala (D) in the general election for lieutenant governor of Virginia on November 2, 2021, with 50.7% of the vote to Ayala’s 49.3%. Sears is the first woman and Black woman to be elected to the position.

A Roanoke College poll conducted in August of 2021 found a plurality of respondents (26%) thought the economy was the most important issue. Other issues included COVID-19 (9%), race relations (7%), education (7%), and health care (6%).

The incumbent lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax (D), ran for governor. He lost in the Democratic primary on June 8, 2021. Ayala won the June 8 Democratic primary with 39.1% of the vote, followed by Sam Rasoul (D) with 25.3%. Winsome Sears defeated Tim Hugo in the fifth round of ranked-choice voting with 54% of the vote to Hugo’s 46% in the May 8 Republican convention.

Ayala, who was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017, emphasized her experience in the legislature, saying she “has already helped shepherd some of the Democratic Majority’s biggest successes and knows how to get things done.” Ayala said she would “focus on an inclusive economy that ensures every Virginian can put food on the table and keep a roof over their heads” through increasing the minimum wage, investing in affordable housing, and mandating hazard pay for essential workers.

Sears, a former Marine and member of the House of Delegates from 2002-2004, said her views were based on “her service to the Commonwealth and her Country, her faith, and her belief in equal opportunity for all Virginians.” She said she would “support policies that keep taxes low, reduce regulations, and promote small businesses,” and “that reduce the cost of living for Virginians,” including maintaining Virginia’s Right-to-Work Law, providing tax breaks for small businesses, and reducing state excise and income taxes.

Virginia is one of 17 states in which the lieutenant governor is nominated in a separate primary and elected in a separate general election from the governor. 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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Youngkin becomes first Republican to win a statewide election in Virginia since 2009

Glenn Youngkin (R) defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) in the general election for governor of Virginia on November 2, 2021, becoming the first Republican to win a statewide election in the state since 2009. Incumbent Gov. Ralph Northam (D) was unable to seek re-election due to term limits.

The Los Angeles Times‘ Janet Hook called the race “the first big test of strength between parties since Biden was elected” and said it “could set the tone for the 2022 midterm election.”

Youngkin’s victory switched Virginia to a split government after two years as a Democratic trifecta.

Youngkin is a former co-CEO and president of The Carlyle Group, a global investment firm, where he worked from 1995 to 2020. In a Candidate Connection survey submitted to Ballotpedia, Youngkin said, “We need a governor with real-world experience who can create jobs, keep businesses from leaving, put an open-for-business sign on Virginia, and create a rip-roaring economy that lifts all Virginians.” Read his full survey responses here

In more recent messaging, Youngkin released campaign advertisements addressing the teaching of race in education and the topic of critical race theory, saying McAuliffe would change Virginia’s public school curriculum if elected.

Princess Blanding (Liberation) and Paul Davis (I) also ran in the election. Blanding appeared on the general election ballot. Davis ran as a write-in candidate.

At the time of the election, Democrats had won four of the five most recent gubernatorial elections and all thirteen statewide elections in Virginia since 2012Joe Biden (D) won the state in the 2020 presidential election, receiving 54% of the vote to Donald Trump‘s (R) 44%.



Fundraising in top five Virginia House races exceed $15.3 million

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. There are 93 districts with both a Democratic and Republican candidate on the ballot. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

This article lists the five most expensive contested general elections this cycle, ranked by contributions. An earlier version of this article, based on reported data through Aug. 31, 2021, reported the average amount raised for a general election featuring more than one candidate as $394,827.38. In the last two months, the reported donation average climbed by $330,410. Of the districts included in the previous list, only District 10 remains in the top five as of the Oct. 21, 2021 reports. 

Five most expensive general elections

#1 District 10 – $4,372,000.60

Incumbent Wendy Gooditis (D) raised $2,876,678.21 while Nick Clemente (R) raised $1,495,322.39.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

#2 District 85 – $2,938,036.50

Incumbent Alex Askew (D) raised $2,123,593.11 while Karen Greenhalgh (R) raised $814,443.39.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

#3 District 83 – $2,768,861.30

Incumbent Nancy Guy (D) raised $2,041,767.36 while Tim Anderson (R) raised $727,093.94.

The Democratic candidate won 50.0-49.8  in the 2019 general election.

#4 District 28 – $2,686,629.06

Incumbent Joshua Cole (D) raised $1,742,132.53 while Tara Durant (R) raised $944,496.53.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

#5 District 73 – $2,573,085.71

Incumbent Rodney Willett (D) raised $1,757,744.82 while Mary Margaret Kastelberg (R) raised $815,340.89.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

Fundraising in all contested elections

Across Virginia in the 2021 election cycle, the average amount raised for a general election featuring more than one candidate was $725,238. The map below shades the Virginia House districts based on the amount of money raised in that district.

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Oct. 21, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

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



Democrats outraise Republicans by 143% in Virginia state legislative races

New campaign finance filings for Virginia state legislative races show Democrats leading Republicans in fundraising. Between January 1, 2020, and October 21, 2021, Democratic candidates outraised Republican candidates by 143 percent.

Heading into the general elections, 103 Democratic candidates raised $51.87 million compared to $21.38 million raised by 103 Republicans.

In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent reporting period were:

The candidates who raised the most money were incumbent Wendy Gooditis (D) in House District 10 ($2,876,678), incumbent Jerrauld Jones (D) in House District 89 ($2,377,726), and incumbent Alex Askew (D) in House District 85 ($2,123,593).

State legislative general elections are held on November 2, 2021. Primary elections took place on June 8, 2021. In some cases, party nominees may have been chosen earlier.

Democrats have a 21-19 majority in the Virginia State Senate and a 55-45 majority in the Virginia State House.

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.



Three of 10 Virginia House districts with the closest 2019 margins have decreased fundraising this cycle

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

In this article, we’ll look at the 10 closest contests from 2019 and see how the fundraising compares between election cycles. Two of these 10 races resulted in the seat changing partisan hands from Republicans to Democrats (Districts 28 and 83) last cycle.

Ten closest elections in 2019

Of the 10 closest races from the 2019 election cycle, there was an even split between Democratic and Republican victories. Candidates in these districts raised a total of $5.9 million in fundraising at this point in 2019. This cycle, candidates in those same districts have raised a total of $6.8 million.

Across the 100 districts in 2021, candidates in each district have raised on average $393,362. Eight of the 10 districts with the closest 2019 margins have raised more than that on average. The two to not meet that average are both districts held by Republicans.

District2019 MoV2019 fundraising2021 fundraising
District 73D+4.5$561,022.58$928,158.74
District 83*D+0.12$636,073.31$913,555.09
District 28*D+4.1$499,073.22$855,925.61
District 85D+3.4$541,561.69$808,842.06
District 84R+2.4$445,833.90$794,113.10
District 27R+0.62$607,977.43$666,440.06
District 75D+2.1$108,441.91$632,729.37
District 66R+4.6$1,648,306.55$561,708.31
District 100R+3.9$436,818.66$385,646.85
District 81R+4.4$376,179.83$210,370.06

*Districts that changed partisan hands in 2019

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021, as well as Jan. 1, 2018, and Aug. 31, 2019. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

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



Democratic candidates in Virginia House have raised 57 percent more than last cycle; Republicans raised 19 percent less

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. In 2019, Democrats gained control of the chamber from Republicans by picking up six seats when Republicans had held a 51-49 majority. As a result, 2021 is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

In the 2021 election cycle, Democratic candidates have raised a combined $28.5 million to Republicans’ $10.9 million. In the 2019 cycle, Democratic candidates raised $15.8 million at this point while Republicans raised $13.1 million. In this article, we’ll look at select campaign finance data points and how they compare to the 2019 election cycle. 

Total money raised

Between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021, Democratic candidates have raised 57 percent more money than in the previous election cycle, while Republican candidates have raised 19 percent less money. The chart below compares the total funds raised by candidates of each political party through Aug. 31 of each election cycle in 2021 and 2019.

Five districts with the most fundraising

In the 2021 election cycle, the five districts with the most fundraising exceeded $1 million each. In the 2019 election cycle, only two districts had fundraising totaling more than $1 million at this point in time.

Most expensive races  (1/1/2020 – 8/31/2021)Most expensive races  (1/1/2018 – 8/31/2019)
DistrictFunds raisedDistrictFunds raised
District 89$2,357,862.70District 40$1,725,113.52
District 11$2,109,943.85District 66$1,648,306.55
District 10$1,427,115.04District 10$954,747.49
District 41$1,353,323.67District 94$912,502.83
District 40$1,100,583.90District 76$871,691.62

Top ten fundraisers

In the 2021 election cycle, two candidates have raised more than $2 million each. In the 2019 election cycle, no candidate had raised more than $1.2 million at this point in time.

Top fundraisers (1/1/2020 – 8/31/2021)Top fundraisers  (1/1/2018 – 8/31/2019)
NameFunds raisedNameFunds raised
Jerrauld Jones (D)$2,330,658.71Kirk Cox (R)$1,177,816.49
S. Rasoul (D)$2,069,106.10Tim Hugo (R)$1,101,445.44
Eileen Filler-Corn (D)$1,353,025.49Chris Jones (R)$721,063.34
Charniele Herring (D)$952,894.37Dan Helmer (D)$623,668.08
Elizabeth Guzman (D)$918,627.01Nick Freitas (R)$544,907.56
Luke Torian (D)$799,546.66Danica Roem (D)$527,411.77
Dan Helmer (D)$751,851.02Carrie Coyner (R)$525,967.66
Candi King (D)$723,276.37Eileen Filler-Corn (D)$518,929.00
Wendy Gooditis (D)$713,788.18Randall Minchew (R)$513,943.89
Nick Clemente (R)$713,326.86Shelly Simonds (D)$505,487.60

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021, as well as Jan. 1, 2018, and Aug. 31, 2019. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

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



In targeted Virginia House races, Democrats raised an average of double their Republican counterparts

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Democratic target districts

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee announced a list of 22 target districts this election cycle. Those candidates combined raised a total of $10.5 million. The table below shows the Democratic candidate in each target district along with the 2019 margin of victory in that district. 

DistrictDemocratic CandidateFunds raised2019 margin of victory
District 10Wendy Gooditis$713,788.18D+4.7
District 12Chris Hurst$666,962.18D+7.2
District 13Danica Roem$428,505.70D+12
District 21Kelly Convirs-Fowler$293,795.62D+9.2
District 28Joshua Cole$617,479.37D+4
District 31Elizabeth Guzman$918,627.01D+5.4
District 40Dan Helmer$751,851.02D+4.8
District 50Lee Carter$212,254.62D+6.8
District 51Hala Ayala$490,068.41D+9.3
District 63Lashrecse Aird$545,017.13D+10.7
District 66Katie Sponsler$268,540.56R+4.7
District 68Dawn Adams$393,149.30D+9.3
District 72Schuyler VanValkenburg$672,504.92D+6.7
District 73Rodney Willett$643,732.59D+4.5
District 75Roz Tyler$418,506.79D+1.1
District 81Jeffrey Feld$58,182.81R+4.4
District 83Nancy Guy$663,716.72D+0.2
District 84Kimberly Melnyk$227,172.73R+2.5
District 85Alex Askew$641,039.39D+3.4
District 91Martha Mugler$377,764.82D+9.7
District 93Michael P. Mullin$200,880.46D+11.5
District 100Finale Norton$281,046.64R+3.9

Republican target districts

The Republican State Leadership Committee announced a list of 13 target districts this election cycle. Those candidates combined raised a total of $3.1 million. The table below shows the Republican candidate in each target district along with the 2019 margin of victory in that district. 

DistrictRepublican CandidateFunds raised2019 margin of victory
District 10Nick Clemente$713,326.86D+4.7
District 12Jason Ballard$268,767.13D+7.2
District 21Tanya Gould$121,031.40D+9.2
District 28Tara Durant$238,446.24D+4
District 31Ben Baldwin$111,337.74D+5.4
District 40Harold Pyon$348,732.88D+4.8
District 68Mark Earley Jr.$191,649.49D+9.3
District 72Christopher Holmes$137,482.63D+6.7
District 73Mary Margaret Kastelberg$284,426.15D+4.5
District 75H. Otto Wachsmann Jr.$214,222.58D+1.1
District 83Tim Anderson$249,838.37D+0.2
District 85Karen Greenhalgh$167,802.67D+3.4
District 91Aijalon Cordoza$39,729.26D+9.7

On average, Democratic candidates outraised Republicans in targeted districts

In the districts that national groups have identified as critical elections for their respective parties, Democratic candidates raised twice as much on average as their Republican counterparts. Democratic candidates raised an average of $477,272 in each race targeted by the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. Republicans raised an average of $238,461 per district targeted by the Republican State Leadership Committee. 

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

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



Top five donors to Democratic and Republican candidates in Virginia House battleground districts

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Ballotpedia has identified 22 battleground races in these elections. Sixteen are in Democrat-held districts, and six are in Republican-held districts. Based on analysis of these districts’ electoral histories, these races have the potential to be more competitive than other races and could possibly lead to shifts in a chamber’s partisan balance.

To determine these battleground races, Ballotpedia looked for races that fit one or more of the four factors listed below:

  1. The 2019 winner received less than 55 percent of the vote.
  2. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and the 2019 winner won by a margin of 10 percentage points or less.
  3. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and the incumbent is not on the ballot this year.
  4. The presidential candidate who won the district in 2020 is of a different party than the 2019 winner in the district, and that presidential candidate won the district by a margin of 20 percentage points or more.

Top five individual donors by party

Virginia House candidate political action committees (PACs) in these districts raised a total of $14.7 million from Jan. 1, 2020, through Aug. 31, 2021. Democratic House candidate PACs raised $9.9 million, while Republican House candidate PACs raised $4.8 million. 

The five individual donors who gave the most money to battleground race candidates of a single political party are shown below. 

Top five individual donors to Democratic battleground candidates:

Top five individual donors to Republican battleground candidates:

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

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



Roundup of noteworthy court challenges involving redistricting (Oct. 19)

Here’s a summary of recent court challenges involving redistricting.

Former Republican elected officials file lawsuit challenging Oregon’s congressional map

On Oct. 11, four former Oregon elected officials—former Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno (R), former Oregon House Republican leader Gary Wilhelms (R), former Mayor of The Dalles James Wilcox, and former Oregon House Speaker Larry Campbell (R)—filed a lawsuit with the Oregon Supreme Court challenging the validity of the state’s enacted congressional map. In the lawsuit, the plaintiffs said the map was “an unconstitutional partisan gerrymandered redistricting map, as the Democrats drew the map with impermissible partisan intent to favor the Democratic Party, and [the map] will have impermissible partisan effects.” The plaintiffs requested the court declare the congressional map invalid and draw a different congressional map.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) signed the new congressional map into law on Sept. 27. It was approved by the Oregon House of Representatives 33-16 and approved by the Oregon State Senate 18-6.

ACLU, NAACP file lawsuit in federal court regarding South Carolina redistricting timeline

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the South Carolina chapter of the NAACP filed a lawsuit in federal court on Oct. 12 against the South Carolina legislature asking the court to set a deadline for legislators to return to session. South Carolina Senate President Harvey Peeler (R) canceled a special Senate session originally scheduled to begin Oct. 12 and indicated that lawmakers may not reconvene to address redistricting until December or January.

The ACLU and NAACP said the delay would prevent any potential lawsuits from being resolved before the new districts take effect. Leah Aden, deputy director of litigation at the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund, said “In every redistricting cycle for the last 50 years — since Congress enacted the Voting Rights Act — voters and others have been compelled to go to court to fix the legislature’s maps…The state’s refusal to tell the public when it will reconvene to take up its obligation to redraw the lines and make it difficult, if not impossible, to resolve any court challenge before the consequential 2022 primaries is unacceptable.”

Three-judge panel named for federal lawsuit asking Virginia to hold legislative elections in both 2021 and 2022

A three-judge panel was selected in a federal lawsuit filed by former state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman that argues that the state’s November 2021 legislative elections with districts drawn after the 2010 census violates the state’s constitution and the Equal Protection Clause. Goldman filed the suit in July.

Goldman argued that Virginia should also hold legislative elections in November 2022 after the state completes redistricting since urban areas have seen increased population growth relative to other parts of the state. Goldman stated that votes in the areas where the population has risen more rapidly are less valuable than those in other parts of the state if the 2010 maps are used for the entire two-year cycle.

U.S. District Judge David Novak ruled the case could move forward and appointed himself, Fourth Circuit Judge Stephanie Thacker, and U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson to hear the case. Novak was appointed to the court by President Donald Trump (R), Thacker was appointed by President Barack Obama (D), and Jackson was appointed by President Bill Clinton (D).

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Redistricting update: Virginia redistricting commission’s legislative map deadline passes, Arkansas congressional redistricting veto referendum campaign announced

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from Virginia and Arkansas.

In Virginia, the Redistricting Commission did not meet the Oct. 10 deadline to submit state legislative maps to the General Assembly. Under state law, the commission is given a 14 day extension to submit maps after “its initial failure to submit a plan to the General Assembly.” If the commission does not reconvene to draft maps, the authority to create new districts passes to the Virginia Supreme Court, which as of October 2021 was made up of a majority of justices appointed by a Republican-controlled legislature.

The Virginia Redistricting Commission is made up of four Democratic state legislators, four Republican legislators, and eight citizen members. The commission is also tasked with drawing a new congressional map, with an Oct. 25 deadline to submit maps to the legislature.

In Arkansas, an organization called Arkansans for a Unified Natural State announced on Oct. 9 that it would attempt to place both proposed congressional district map bills on the November 2022 general election ballot as veto referendums. On Oct. 13, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) said he would neither sign nor veto the map bills, meaning they are set to become law 90 days after Oct. 13. The two map bills, submitted to the governor by the Arkansas General Assembly as HB 1982 and SB 743, are identical.

In order to qualify for the ballot, supporters of the veto referendums would need to gather 53,491 signatures from registered voters across at least 15 of the state’s counties within 90 days after the end of the special legislative session during which the bills were passed. Supporters of the referendums announced they would need to gather the required 53,491 signatures for each of the identical map bills.

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