RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - While the Democratic race for governor has attracted the most attention, voters are also choosing Democratic nominees for other statewide offices in Tuesday’s primary election.
Attorney General Mark Herring is seeking a third term, but faces a strong challenge from Norfolk Del. Jay Jones. And six candidates are seeking the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor.
Both Democrats and Republicans are holding nominating primaries for some House of Delegates seats and local races.
Virginia’s off-year elections typically draw national attention as a possible bellwether for trends heading into next year’s midterms.
Republicans chose their statewide candidates in a nominating convention last month. The GOP is looking to end a 12-year losing streak in statewide elections.
Early voting has been underway since late April. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Virginia’s voter ID law was repealed last year, so people casting a ballot can sign an ID confirmation statement instead of providing ID.
Incumbent Mark Herring is seeking a third term, looking to fend off a challenge from Del. Jay Jones, who represents Norfolk.
A former state senator who became attorney general in 2014 and was reelected easily in 2017, Herring has pitched himself to voters as a progressive champion on abortion rights, gun control and immigrant-friendly policies and argued that his experience made him the best choice to keep the office in Democratic control.
Jones, a Black 32-year-old two-term delegate, has argued the office needs a fresh perspective and sought to cast Herring as slow to respond to the reckoning sparked by the police murder of George Floyd last summer.
Jones picked up Northam’s endorsement, but many other establishment Democratic figures, including two of the state’s most powerful Black lawmakers, have endorsed Herring.
The winner of the primary contest will face GOP nominee Jason Miyares, a former prosecutor and a member of the House of Delegates who so far has been campaigning with a focus on public safety.
Six Democrats are hoping for a chance to serve as lieutenant governor, a mostly ceremonial job that pays about $36,000 a year but is often a steppingstone to higher office.
Sam Rasoul, who has represented Roanoke in the House of Delegates since 2014, has a fundraising lead and is seen in some corners as the frontrunner. Most of the Democratic establishment, though, has coalesced around two-term Del. Hala Ayala, who represents Prince William County.
Also running are:
- Northern Virginia attorney and racial justice activist Sean Perryman
- Norfolk City Council member Andria McClellan
- Businessman Xavier Warren
- Del. Mark Levine, who is simultaneously running for his House seat
The winner will face GOP nominee and former Del. Winsome Sears, who 20 years ago became the first Black Republican woman elected to the Virginia General Assembly.
Sears, who came to the U.S. from Jamaica as a child and served in the Marines, served a single term representing parts of Hampton Roads in the House.
HOUSE OF DELEGATES
Voters will choose nominees in dozens of House primaries, settling the field of candidates for a fall general election shaping up to be intensely contested. Democrats will be on defense in November, attempting to hang on to their majority.
In the primary, Democrats have an unusually high number of intra-party challengers - 14 - while only three Republican incumbents have opponents.
Both parties say they are confident their incumbents will do well.