RICHMOND, Va - A multi-million-dollar math contest is underway in Virginia and the winner likely determines the fate of a governorship, abortion access, and policies that most directly impact the lives of everyday Virginians. The 2023 Virginia General Election is officially underway in the Commonwealth. Early voting began on September 22 and Election Day is Tuesday, November 7.
The 2023 CBS 6 Voter Guide is designed so that any voter in Central Virginia can identify the candidates on their ballot and access information to help with their choice. Below you will find useful information on identifying your district (which is likely slightly different this year), important deadlines to remember, and analysis of key local races.
The current makeup of Virginia's General Assembly is split — with a Republican majority in the House of Delegates and Democrats controlling the State Senate by a handful of seats in both cases. Currently, Democrats can block big-ticket Republican agenda items backed by Governor Glenn Youngkin (R - Virginia).
This is where the numbers game comes into play.
With all 140 seats at the General Assembly on the ballot, individual district winners will be important to voters in that city or county, but the bigger prize will be determined by the overall number of Republicans and Democrats who win their races.
Should Republicans regain their majority in the House of Delegates and win the State Senate, Youngkin's party would have complete control over Virginia's government the next two years.
The party feels confident following the 2021 election and has mostly rallied around their standard-bearer in Youngkin, who has centered his governorship around raising academic standards, giving parents more rights within public education, and cutting taxes for Virginians following record budget surpluses.
Democrats must maintain control of at least one chamber of the legislature to prevent the structure they enjoyed two years ago.
Democrats have cast this election as a referendum on the fate of abortion access in Virginia following the U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
Virginia is the only southern state without an abortion ban, and Governor Youngkin backs a ban after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Expect to hear themes from Republicans attacking Democrats for backing public safety or health policies they feel are out of the mainstream and too "woke" for the average voters.
Meanwhile, Democrats argue while Youngkin and Republicans talk about "common sense" policies, in reality, those policies unnecessarily harm transgender Virginians or try to whitewash history standards to score political wins.
This will be the first General Assembly elections under new maps drawn following the 2020 Census, which led to a rash of retirements from longtime legislators and means your House and Senate district numbers very likely changed.
Based on voting trends in the last two elections in each district, there are only about a dozen truly competitive races between both chambers, per the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). That means control of the General Assembly will come down to how each party fairs in those races and a handful of others that likely lean slightly toward one party or the other.
Historically, General Assembly elections see a much smaller percentage of registered voters cast ballots compared to years where there are statewide races. Still, the eyes of the national political scene will be on the outcome as a possible clue to where voters stand ahead of the 2024 presidential election and the possibility that Youngkin could become a dark horse GOP candidate on the national ticket.
There are also hundreds of local elections for board of supervisors seats, school boards, sheriffs, and voter referendums in localities all across Virginia.
There are several important dates to keep in mind:
- Early, in-person voting continues through November 4 at your local registrar's office or satellite locations
- The last day to request a ballot by mail is October 27
- Weekend voting hours begin October 28
- The final deadline to register to vote or change your existing registration is October 16
You can find more important voter information directly through the Virginia Department of Elections or your local registrar's office. To look up your registration status, which races will be on your ballot, and where you can find more information specific to your city or county, you can visit the Virginia Citizen's Portal.
Youngkin aims for GOP sweep in legislative elections. Democrats have other ideas
NOTE FOR READERS: CBS 6 is based in Central Virginia, so this guide highlights races near the Richmond metro. If you live outside our coverage area, you can still find information through the links above or navigate detailed maps provided by the non-partisan, non-profit VPAP.
SENATE OF VIRGINIA RACES IN CENTRAL VIRGINIA
Western Hanover, Powhatan, Eastern Louisa, Goochland, Fluvanna, Appomattox, Buckingham, Amelia, Cumberland, Prince Edward (part), and Henrico (part)
Republican John McGuire is the only candidate on the ballot in this race, after emerging victorious from a four-way GOP convention nominating contest. McGuire has served in the House of Delegates since 2018. He is a former Navy Seal and founder of the popular Seal Team Personal Training.
Republicans won the district by double-digit percentage points in statewide races dating back to 2016.
Western Chesterfield, Colonial Heights
Republican Glen Sturtevant defeated current State Senator Amanda Chase by a close margin in the Republican primary. Sturtevant is a former member of the Virginia Senate, a former member of the Richmond School Board, and a lawyer.
Democrats nominated Natan McKenzie in the race. McKenzie is a graduate of Virginia State University and works as a financial adviser.
Sturtevant has the fundraising edge and a more recognizable name in the local political scene, modeling himself as a "proven common-sense leader" with conservative credentials. McKenzie lists financial literacy, social justice for all, and protecting women's rights as his top priorities.
Based on recent voting patterns, VPAP lists the district as leaning Republican, and GOP candidates carried the district in the most recent statewide races dating back to 2016.
Eastern Henrico, Prince George, Petersburg, Hopewell, Eastern Dinwiddie, Sussex, Charles City, Surry
Democrat Lashrecse Aird, formerly a three-term delegate representing Petersburg, made the biggest splash of primary season when her victory over Senator Joe Morrissey was seen nationally as win based on the candidate's differing views on abortion access. The Republican nominee is Eric Ditri, who grew up in Prince George County and now works as a loan officer at a Virginia mortgage company.
Aird raised more $2 million during this election cycle, likely related to her primary fight with Morrissey and major contributions for workers unions and Planned Parenthood, giving her a significant edge in dollars raised. Ditri writes that crime, poverty, and homelessness are holding the district back and will not "kick the can down the road."
Overall, Democrats on the statewide ticket would have carried District 13 by 10 to 20 percentage points in every election since 2016, and VPAP lists it as leaning Democratic.
Richmond and North/East Henrico
Senator Lamont Bagby, a Democrat, is the only candidate on the ballot in this race after defeating Katie Gooch in the primary. Bagby is the chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus and was elevated to the Virginia Senate after winning a special election when Rep. Jennifer McClellan won her seat in Congress.
District 15 Eastern Chesterfield and South Richmond
Senator Ghazala Hashmi, a Democrat, has served in the Virginia Senate since 2019 when she unseated Glenn Sturtevant as part of the "blue wave" election that year. Hayden Fisher, a Republican, works as a trial lawyer and is the owner/partner in several well-known Richmond restaurants.
Hashmi is a community college administrator and focused her time in the legislature on education issues, workers’ rights, and environmental justice. Fisher's campaign centers around creating a people-centered business climate, parental rights in education, and backing law enforcement.
Due to redistricting, the race in Western Henrico pits two well-known members of the General Assembly against each other: Republican Senator Siobhan Dunnavant and Democratic Delegate Schuyler VanValkenburg.
Dunnavant has served in the Senate since 2016, bringing with her expertise as an OB-GYN to healthcare issues before the chamber.
VanValkenburg has served in the House of Delegates since 2017, using his experience as a current history and government teacher at Glen Allen High School to address issues facing Virginia teachers and students.
Both candidates have emerged within their respective parties as sober, thoughtful voices and regularly appear with party leaders to address the press or voters at events.
Money has poured in this race with both candidates raising more than $1 million. The results of this race will likely help signal which way the wind is blowing for the parties on election night.
Based on VPAP analysis of past elections, they list the seat as leaning Democratic.
Suffolk, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth (part), Southampton, Brunswick, Greensville, Franklin, Western Dinwiddie, Emporia, Chesapeake (part)
In what is expected to be one of the few truly toss-up races in this election cycle, the race in the sprawling Senate District 17 features two current members of the House of Delegates.
Delegate Emily Brewer defeated former NASCAR racer and businessman Hermie Sadler in the Republican primary, and the wine shop owner has served in the House of Delegates since 2018.
Delegate Clint Jenkins is the Democratic candidate and has served Suffolk and Chesapeake since 2020.
The district favored Democrats by a small margin during the 2022 federal midterm elections, but in 2021, Governor Youngkin won the district, based on VPAP's estimates. The outcome likely signals who will gain control of the chamber.
HOUSE OF DELEGATES RACES IN CENTRAL VIRGINIA
Fluvanna (part), Western Goochland, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland, Prince Edward
Former Congressman Tom Garrett, who did not seek re-election back in 2018 after stating publicly he was seeking treatment for alcoholism, won the Republican convention in the district and will be the only candidate on the ballot. The district heavily favors Republicans, according to VPAP.
Western Henrico and Easter Goochland
Two political newcomers are vying for this seat based near Short Pump in a race that is one of the few toss-up contests in the House of Delegates.
The Republican nominee is David Owen, a home builder by trade who graduated from Henrico schools.
Democrats nominated Susanna Gibson to be their nominee, a nurse practitioner specializing in home-based care.
The race was already going to be closely watched by Virginia politicos before the eyes of the nation turned toward it. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported that Gibson performed sex actson her husband while live-streaming on a pornographic website and asked viewers for money to perform specific acts.
Gibson called the video leak an invasion of privacy and a political attack on her family. Owen said he remains focused on his campaign.
Delegate Rodney Willett, the Democratic candidate, looks to hold onto his seat in the House of Delegates for a third term, where he's represented the same general area since 2020 after the "blue wave" election of 2019. The Republican nominee is Riley Shaia, who is a fitness professional and physical therapist.
The district favors Democrats based on the past several statewide election results but not by a large margin, according to VPAP. Willett holds the fundraising edge, but both candidates have pulled more than $100,000.
Western Hanover, Eastern/Central Louisa, Henrico (part)
Delegate Buddy Fowler, the Republican candidate is seeking his sixth term in the House of Delegates, after warding off a well-funded primary challenge. The new District 59 race features a rematch of the last race in Fowler's old district. Democrat Rachel Levy is an educator who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Fowler two years ago.
Fowler's win two years ago was sizable, but the lines of the district are different this time around. Still, the district has heavily favored Republicans in recent elections.
Eastern Hanover and Western New Kent
Delegate Scott Wyatt (R), a former member of the Hanover Board of Supervisors, is seeking his third term in the House.
The Democratic candidate is Keith Braxton, a teacher and football coach in Hanover County.
Anchored in Hanover County, the district is expected to heavily favor Republicans.
Eastern Spotsylvania and Western Caroline
Delegate Bobby Orrock, a Republican, has served in the House of Delegates for more than 30 years, currently serving as the Chairman of the Health, Welfare, and Institutions committee, and a retired teacher.
The Democratic nominee is Mark Lux, an Army veteran and special education teacher.
Orrock has a large fundraising edge and name recognition from serving in the legislature for decades.
Still, VPAP lists the race as leaning Republican since statewide Democrats have done well within the new district lines.
King George, Westmoreland, Northumberland, Lancaster, Eastern Caroline, Richmond County
Delegate Margaret Ransone (R) decided to not seek another term, leaving the new district in the Northern Neck up for grabs.
Pugh Kent is from Richmond County and now helps run her family's beer distribution company in the Northern Neck. Smith is a Vietnam veteran and retired Department of Defense historian living in King George. Kenski is centering his campaign around eliminating corruption in government and says he is not beholden to either party or big money donors.
Republicans are heavily favored in the district.
Gloucester, King William, Middlesex, Essex, Matthews, King and Queen.
Delegate Keith Hodges, a Republican, is seeking his seventh term in the House of Delegates and serves as the chairman of the Counties, Cities, and Towns committee. Hodges is the only candidate on the ballot in this district anchored in the Middle Peninsula.
James City County, Williamsburg, Eastern New Kent
The race received attention earlier this year after a food fight of sorts. Batten dropped off donuts for teachers at several schools in the district that were paid for with campaign funds, according to a report in the Virginia Mercury. Anderson criticized the move as a political stunt, but a few days later her campaign sent a political email to nearly 2,000 public school employees by mistake.
Part of the campaign fighting likely comes from the voting trends of the new district. While Republicans would have won most of the recent statewide races in the new district, the gap was not significant. VPAP lists the race as lean Republican.
Midlothian/Bon Air, Powhatan, Amelia, Nottoway
For nearly 25 years, Delegate Lee Ware (R) has represented the counties south and west of Richmond in the House of Delegates and currently chairs the Agriculture, Chesapeake, and Natural Resources committee. Ware is a retired teacher in Powhatan schools, and now faces someone familiar with Powhatan schools: Bilal Raychouni is the Democratic nominee and a middle school computer science teacher.
Ware's name recognition and voting trends in within the new district give him a significant edge.
Del. Roxann Robinson (R), who had served in the House for more than a decade, chose to not seek re-election in the new district. Attorney Mark Earley won the Republican primary in the race as the party's candidate. Herb Walke, an industrial business consultant, is the Democratic nominee.
The new district favors Republicans based on past voting trends.
South Chesterfield, Colonial Heights
Delegate Mike Cherry (R), an Airforce veteran, local pastor, and former Colonial Heights City Council member, will serve his second term in the legislature since a Democrat who wanted to run in the district reportedly missed filing deadlines earlier in the year.
The district was listed as leans Republican by VPAP's index.
Eastern Chesterfield, Hopewell, Northwest Prince George
Delegate Carrie Coyner (R), an attorney and former Chesterfield School Board member, seeks her third term in the chamber in the newly drawn district that encompasses much of her old one. Stephen Miller-Pitts is the Democratic candidate and is a military veteran and small business owner.
Republicans are seen to have the advantage in the new district based on past statewide elections, but the margins are somewhat close.
The new district 76 is comprised of the neighborhoods between Chippenham Parkway and Route 288 from the Powhite Parkway in the west to close to Route 1.
Debra Gardner, a former social worker who previously lost close races for the House of Delegates and Chesterfield Board of Supervisors, is the Democrat's candidate. Duc Truong founded a local insurance company based in Chesterfield and is the Republican nominee in the race.
The makeup of the new District 76 heavily favors Democrats, according to VPAP's index.
South Richmond and North Chesterfield
The new District 77 covers the City of Richmond south and west of the James River and portions of Northeastern Chesterfield County, including Bon Air.
Pastor and Richmond City Council President Mike Jones is the Democratic nominee and the only candidate on the ballot.
Even if there was a challenger, past voting trends show Democrats would almost certainly win.
Richmond — Fan and West End
Delegate Betsy Carr (D) will serve her eighth term in the House as the only candidate on the ballot in the new District 78, which stretches from Richmond's Fan District to the West End of the City. Carr serves as the House Democratic caucus treasurer.
Carr has only faced a challenger in the general election four of eight times in a seat that remains heavily Democratic.
Richmond — Northside, Downtown, Southside
Rae Cousins is an attorney working on behalf of victims in billion-dollar settlement cases who won the Democratic primary handily in District 79 early this year. Cousins will represent the district as she is the only name on the ballot in a district that stretches along the Route 1 corridor in Richmond and is a very safe seat for Democrats.
Henrico — Lakeside
Democrat Destiny Bolling emerged from the primary as the nominee and will be the only name on the ballot in this district that encompasses Lakeside and stretches east within Henrico. Bolling is the communications director for Virginia AFL-CIO, a workers union.
The district favors Democrats, according to VPAP.
Eastern Henrico, Northeast Chesterfield, and Charles City
Fending off a well-funded primary challenge to secure the Democratic nomination, Delegate Delores McQuinn has served in the House for more than a decade as an outspoken advocate for social justice and an active, respected voice within her party. McQuinn is unopposed in the race in a district where Democrats have the advantage based on past elections.
Petersburg, most of Dinwiddie, most of Prince George, Surry
Taylor owns three automotive repair shops and lists issues like rural broadband and agriculture as her top issues.
Pope is an accounts auditor for the Virginia Treasury and Virginia State University and grew up in the Five Forks area of Hopewell.
Recent elections within the new district lines show a mixed bag of results.
According to VPAP's analysis, Democrats would have barely won the district during the 2022 federal elections, and Governor Youngkin would have won the district by a similarly small margin in 2021. Other election prognosticators have called the race a true "toss-up," which explains why both candidates have brought in more than $650,000.
Isle of Wight, Southampton, Brunswick, Sussex, Greensville, Emporia, part of Dinwiddie
Republican Delegate Otto Wachsmann, a pharmacist who grew up in Sussex County, is seeking his second term in office.
The Democratic candidate in the race is Mary L. Person, who is a native of Emporia and currently serving as the principal of Bellfield Elementary there.
The district favors Republicans based on recent election data.
LOCAL RACES ACROSS CENTRAL VIRGINIA
There are hundreds of local races in cities and counties across the Richmond Metro, including high-profile races involving board of supervisors and school board seats, Commonwealth Attorney's offices, Sheriff's, and a referendum on whether or not voters approve of a casino project in Richmond (again).
You can see which candidates are on the ballot in your county/city here or contact your local registrar directly. Many local election offices offer sample ballots online.