RICHMOND, Va. -- In one week, voters in Virginia head to the polls in primary elections in dozens of districts across the Commonwealth. This year marks the first General Assembly election under new maps following redistricting, which created a host of intriguing primary match-ups.
Early, in-person voting for primaries ends Saturday, June 17.
Primary election day is next Tuesday, June 20.
These primary contests set the table for the fall elections, and Governor Glen Youngkin's agenda hangs in the balance on those results.
On a sunny afternoon in Carytown, the primaries were on Laneda Wright's mind.
While working toward her master's degree, she is volunteering to knock on doors and provide voters with information about the upcoming primaries.
"They forget the primary in one of the most important things," Wright said. "For me, especially being an African-American queer woman living in the South, I want to make sure individuals who look like me have that ability to know what’s happening.”
Every seat of Virginia's legislature will be on the ballot in November.
The primary elections will determine party candidates in dozens of districts.
The new legislative maps led to a rash of retirements by veteran lawmakers.
In many other cases, incumbent candidates are grouped together in the same district, which set up several high-profile match-ups in Central Virginia.
"At the end of the day, what it was was a backdoor term limit for incumbents," CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said.
Two races in Central Virginia are particularly interesting, Holsworth said.
In Senate District 13, Democrats are choosing between current State Senator Joe Morrissey and former Delegate Lashrecse Aird.
Several prominent Democrats are backing Aird over Morrissey, who they argue will vote against abortion access.
"If Joe Morrissey happens to hang on, the Democrats will need a 22-seat majority in November to actually have a majority because Morrissey will have no definite allegiance any longer when almost every single local leader has come out against him," Holsworth said.
A lot of attention is on Republicans in Senate District 12 as well, where the decision is between three candidates.
Incumbent Senator Amanda Chase, former State Senator Glen Sturtevant, and Tina Ramirez are locked in a heated primary contest.
Holsworth said he'll be watching the Ramirez factor in the primary.
She has raised the most money, but both Chase and Sturtevant have won public office locally multiple times.
"Amanda Chase has described herself as Trump in heels. She has a constituency; she has a base like Donald Trump, but whether it’s enough to withstand the challenge of Glen Sturtevant is really an open question," Holsworth said.
"If you take a look at both of these races, both Amanda Chase and Joe Morrissey are not only fighting their opponents; they’re fighting the large part of the establishment in their own party," he continued.
That party unity will be a big question in the fall as well. Democrats need to hold onto one chamber of the General Assembly to block Governor Youngkin's agenda, and Republicans are focused on taking full control of the Virginia government.
“Come November, the Youngkin governorship, in many ways, is on the line because it’s going to shape and define what he’s able to do or not able to do for the next two years," Holsworth said. "The Democrats know if they lose this election in November, the next two years are going to look a lot like the last two years of the Northam administration in reverse."
Those are the stakes in the months to come, but back in Carytown, Wright remained focused on the primaries and making sure her neighbors are engaged.
"What I say is look at the candidates, look at the platforms, and what fits you. Yes, we have presidential elections, but this is actually local to you, tailored to you," Wright said. "If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.”
The Virginia Department of Elections has tools to see if there is a primary in your district. Voters do not have to register for a political party to vote in Virginia primaries, but must only choose one if there are multiple primary contests in their district.
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