DemDaily: Virginia Governor’s Race: Narrowing The Field

May 12, 2021

Youngkin: "Democrats drove (VA) into the ditch and they have been piling dirt on her every chance they get" (Ben Craft/News Virginian)

Virginia Republicans have chosen their nominee in this year's gubernatorial contest, one of two taking place in 2021.

In Saturday's unprecedented convention process, which included first-time-ever ranked-choice voting, Hedge fund investor Glenn Youngkin emerged the winner among seven candidates.

In the May 8th "unassembled" convention, 30,000 of 53,000 registered delegates turned out to cast ballots in one of 39 remote drive-thru locations.

After five rounds of voting, Youngkin secured 6,868 votes to entrepreneur Pete Snyder's 5,686.

Former Speaker of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox was eliminated in the fourth round of voting, having received 14.81% of the vote, and State Senator Amanda Chase was eliminated in the fifth round of voting, after garnering just 25.21%.

Republican convention workers hand-count ballots (Steve Helber/AP)

Due to the controversy spurred by former President Trump's baseless claims of an election "rigged" by voting machines, only paper ballots were used, which were hand-counted by a group of 60 closely-monitored GOP representatives.

Youngkin, who retired as co-CEO of the Carlyle Group in 2020 and is worth an estimated $254 million, has reportedly said he will spend up to $75 million of his personal fortune to become Virginia's Governor.

Youngkin campaigned on cutting government regulations, lowering taxes, protecting the Second Amendment and "election integrity" reform, including stricter voter identification requirements.

Youngkin did not previously align himself with former President Donald Trump, who lost the Commonwealth by over 10% in the 2020 presidential election. Trump, however, was quick to endorse Youngkin Tuesday saying, "Glenn is a pro-Business, pro-Second Amendment, pro-Veterans, pro-America...he has my Complete and Total Endorsement!"

Virginia is the only state in the union that limits its governor to one consecutive term, making current Governor Ralph Northam (D) ineligible for reelection. Republicans opted for a May 8th convention, while Democrats are holding a traditional primary June 8th.

Lt. Governor nominee Winsome Sears

Lieutenant Governor
Former Virginia Delegate Winsome Sears (Norfolk) secured the Republican Party nomination for Lieutenant Governor on Tuesday, besting five other candidates. She ultimately won over former Delegate Timothy Hugo, 6,828 votes to 5,726, after the fifth round of voting.

If successful in the general election, Sears, a former Marine who was born in Jamaica, would become the first Black woman to win statewide office in Virginia.

An "unapologetic" conservative who was the first Black Republican woman elected to the Virginia General Assembly in 2001, Sears left after one term to launch an unsuccessful congressional bid against Democratic Congressman Bobby Scott.

Now the owner of an appliance and plumbing repair store in Winchester, she also waged an unsuccessful write-in campaign for the 2018 US Senate nomination. In 2020, she served as the national chair of Black Americans to Re-elect President Trump.

Florida US Senator Marco Rubio endorsed Miyares in April

Attorney General
Virginia Delegate Jason Miyares' victory was the first to be announced after he secured the nomination for Attorney General in the third round with 6,490 votes to former Navy Judge Advocate General Chuck Smith with 6,064 votes.

Jack White was eliminated in the second round after garnering 2,282 votes, while Leslie Haley did not make it past the first round after earning only 1,767 votes.

A former state prosecutor and son of a Cuban immigrant, Miyares has represented Virginia Beach in the State House since 2016. He campaigned on gun rights, a tough-on-crime platform and against the "far left radical agenda" being pushed by Virginia Democrats.

Biden won Virginia by over 10% in 2020 (ABC)

Blue Virginia
Now considered a "blue" state, Virginia has voted Democratic in every presidential race since 2008 and in every statewide election since 2009.

Shifting demographics and rapid population growth over the last decade had put the Old Dominion in the battleground category, but the true transition came when Democrats flipped both state legislative chambers in 2019, giving them their first trifecta since 1994.

In 2020, Biden won Virginia with over 451,000 votes.

Outgoing Governor Ralph Northam (D), who is term-limited, endorsed McAuliffe April 8th (Steve Helber/AP)

Former Governor Terry McAuliffe leads a field of five candidates seeking the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in the June 8th primary.

McAuliffe, who served as Virginia's 72nd Governor from 2013 to 2017, left office with a 55% approval-36% disapproval rating.

A former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, McAuliffe has enjoyed a successful career as an attorney, banker, investor, real estate developer and internet venture capitalist.

Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax, who is only the second African American to win statewide in Virginia, is also in contention for the state's top office, as is State Senator Jennifer McClellan (Richmond), former State Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (Prince William) and State Delegate Lee Carter (Manassas).

Dem candidates (LtR) Lee Carter, Terry McAuliffe, Jennifer McClellan, Jennifer Carroll Foy and Justin Fairfax at April 6th debate (Steve Helber/AP)

Should McAuliffe, whose net worth is reported in excess of $30 million, prevail, November's general election is likely to be the most expensive gubernatorial contest in Virginia's history.

At the close of the March 31, 2021 fundraising quarter, McAuliffe had raised over $12 million, followed by Foy who had raised a total of $3.7 million, McClellan $1.8 million, Fairfax $327,000 and Carter $139,000.

Youngkin had raised $7.65 million, including a $5.5 million loan that came out of his own pocket.

Lieutenant Governor
Six Democrats are running for Lieutenant Governor, including Delegates Hala Ayala, Mark Levine and Sam Rasoul, Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan, attorney Sean Perryman and sports agent and lobbyist Xavier Warren.

Delegate Sam Rasoul leads in the largely undecided LG contest

According to the April Christopher Newport University poll, almost two out of three Democratic voters (64%) say they are undecided. While Delegate Sam Rasoul led as the frontrunner with 12% support, but none of the remaining candidates received more than 2% support.

Delegate Elizabeth Guzman led the rest with the support of 4% of Democratic voters, but she withdrew from the race April 17th while the survey was in the field.

Attorney General
Attorney General Mark Herring (D), who is seeking a third term, faces a challenge for the nomination from Delegate Jay Jones (Norfolk).

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Kimberly Scott

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Resources: Washington Post, Virginia Public Access Project, AP, WSET, The News and Advance, Ballotpedia, WTOP

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