Political analyst: 'Fascinating' race for Richmond Mayor extremely competitive

Posted at 3:27 PM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 18:18:27-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- If only two candidates for Mayor of the City of Richmond win districts on Election Day, residents will know who their next Mayor is on election day, however, if more than two win districts, the race may head to a runoff.

That's because, much like the United States of America, voters in Richmond do not choose a winner through the popular vote.

Instead, the Mayor is elected outright by winning 5 of 9 city districts on Election Day.

If multiple candidates win districts and nobody wins five, the two candidates who win the most votes across the city compete in a runoff election a month later.

Incumbent Mayor Levar Stoney won the race in a surprise outright victory in 2016, and CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said he benefited from a huge influx of VCU students voting in the second district, as well as the local Democratic party's endorsement of him.

This year, Dr. Holsworth said things may be different.

"Turnout of young voters is the unknown this year. I'm not sure you have the same concentration at the VCU precinct because fewer students are on campus right now," Dr. Holsworth said. "Stoney does have support of Northam and that will be on the sample ballot, but local democrats... have not given a uniform endorsement to one candidate."

Holsworth said he expects the race to be "fascinating in all of the districts."

He expects Stoney to have a tough time in districts one and two, as well as district four.

Holsworth expects Councilwoman Kim Gray to do well in districts one and two, which encompass the Museum District, near West End, the Fan Districts, and Scott's Addition.

He said Gray should do well in the more affluent parts of the city.

In district four, which is on the southside, he expects Justin Griffin, who opposed the mayor's Navy Hill project, to get between 10 and 20 percent of the vote.

Holsworth said a vote for Griffin would "be a vote Kim Gray would have wanted" as both candidates are seen as the anti-Stoney vote.

On the flip side, in 2016 Stoney was considered the progressive candidate, but now Alexsis Rodgers is seen as more progressive than Stoney, so Rodgers may steal some votes away from Stoney.

Holsworth said Rodgers has run an excellent grassroots campaign, and has raised money from a lot of different people.

He said it will be interesting to see if her grassroots organizing will translate to wins in any of the 9 districts.

Holsworth called the race a "calculus game," with Stoney as the favorite, but a lot of unknowns around how Gray will do in the less affluent parts of the city.


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