RICHMOND, Va. -- Voting, campaign ads, and social media arguments are all well underway ahead of the 2021 election in Virginia. On November 2, voters across the Commonwealth will decide the next Governor, the balance of power in the oldest governing body in North America, and whether or not Richmond will build a casino-resort.
The biggest ticket race, with implications in both the state and nationally, will be the race for Governor between former Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), Glenn Youngkin (R), and Princess Blanding (LP). Millions of dollars have poured into the Virginia gubernatorial race, which will be seen as a preview of the 2022 Congressional midterms, fair or not.
Virginia Democrats have made generational gains in the Virginia General Assembly since 2017, seen by many as a backlash to the Trump Administration. Still, demographic shifts and population growth in Virginia’s suburban areas have helped Democrats win every statewide election since 2009, including the last two Governors.
Republicans are using the events of the past 18-months to argue Virginia in control of Democrats has lead to public safety concerns and government overreach.
“This is going to be looked on nationally, in many ways, as the first election of 2022,” CBS 6 Political Analyst Dr. Bob Holswoth said. “It’s going to be a preview of how well Republicans do without Donald Trump in Washington D.C., on top of the ballot, on Twitter.”
All 100 seats in the House of Delegates are on the ballot too. Democrats hold a 55-45 advantage in the chamber and used their advantage to pass long-sought priorities like gun safety measures, criminal justice reforms, voting reforms, and LGBTQ+ protections within the past two years.
House Republicans argue Democrats overplayed their hand, passing laws that are out of step with average Virginians.
“These elections are part local and part won on the ground in these localities. But, you really can’t ignore the bigger environment.,” Holsworth said. “We really have to think about who’s more excited, who’s more enthusiastic, who’s angrier in some instances. But, who is really motivated to come out and vote.”
Beyond the state-level elections, several localities in Central Virginia have local elections, including the city of Richmond, where voters will decide yes/no on a casino in South Richmond.
Early voting for registered voters began on September 17. Voters can either vote in person at the local registrar's office or request a mail-in ballot before October 22. Voters no longer need a reason to vote early in Virginia.
Holsworth said the new early voting provisions make casting a ballot in this gubernatorial election the easiest it’s ever been. However, it remains to be seen how or if that impacts voter turnout.
“Historically, the turnout in a governor’s race is 20-30 points lower in most instances than the presidential race. So if we had 75% turnout in the presidential race, you’re going to have 50% turnout in the gubernatorial race. That might be a high number, some people think,” Holsworth said.
More information on registering to vote, important deadlines, and connecting your registrars’ office can be found here.
NOTE: This guide is focused on races impacting the Central Virginia/Richmond Metro region. You can find more information on races in other parts of Virginia here.
Also, the non-partisan, non-profit Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) provides a wide variety of data and mapping tools to help voters track elections. You can visit them here and consider donating if you have the means.
Democrats have controlled the Executive Mansion in Virginia since 2013, and former Governor Terry McAuliffe (D) is seeking to extend a streak he began. Virginia law does not allow the Governor to serve consecutive terms.
Virginia Republicans feel hopeful they have the candidate to gain back control of the Governorship in Glenn Youngkin, a former global investment firm CEO with ample financial backing and zero political record.
Princess Blanding is the Liberation Party candidate, a career educator, and Richmond-area activist fighting for racial justice. Blanding is the sister of Marcus-David Peters, who was shot and killed by Richmond Police in 2018.
In 2017, Governor Ralph Northam (D) defeated Ed Gillespie (R) by nearly 9-percentage points, in what was the first election after former President Trump took office.
Since Virginia Governors are on the ballot the year following a U.S. Presidential election, the party in power at the time, in this case, Virginia Democrats, historically faces some kind of backlash at the ballot box, according to political analysts. Still, Virginia’s statewide politics has been trending in the favor of Democrats, especially in suburbs in Northern Virginia, Tidewater, and Richmond.
Most public polling to this point in the race has McAuliffe in the lead with Youngkin either within or close to the margin of error. A Real Clear Politics average of some of the polling has McAuliffe up by 4.7%.
Seen as a potential launching pad to the Executive Mansion, the Lt. Governor in Virginia presides over the Virginia Senate and casts tie-breaking votes. Democrats hold a 21-19 edge in the chamber over Republicans. The winner of this race may cast key votes on big issues, especially if recent history is any indication. Current Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) was the deciding vote in bills to expand Medicaid in Virginia and legalize recreational marijuana.
Del. Hala Ayala (D) won her seat in the Virginia House of Delegates during the “blue wave” election of 2017. Ayala won the Democratic primary over six other candidates by an easy margin.
Former delegate Winsome Sears (R) was selected by GOP voters during a closed convention in the spring. Sears represented a Norfolk-based district in the House of Delegates in the early 2000s.
The winner of this contest would become the first woman and first woman of color to serve as Virginia’s Lt. Governor.
Current Attorney General Mark Herring (D) is seeking to become the first Virginian to serve three consecutive terms in the office since the 1940s. Herring is pitching the work his office has done over the past eight years, including lawsuits against drugmakers, eliminating Virginia’s untested rape kit backlog, and pushing for LGBTQ+ protections.
Del. Jason Miyares (R) has represented Virginia Beach in the House of Delegates since 2016. A former prosecutor, Miyares is focusing his messaging around being tough on criminals and supporting small businesses.
House of Delegates
House District 27 (Chesterfield and Richmond)
Del. Roxann Robinson (R), an optometrist by trade, is seeking her sixth full term representing HD-27 after winning the seat in a special election in 2010. She faces a challenge from public sector leader Debra Gardner, who has lived in Chesterfield for three decades.
Republicans have held the seat since the mid-1980s, but Robinson won by less than a percentage point back in 2019, and the margins have been tightening recently, as Democrats performed well in the suburbs of Richmond. VPAP listed the district as one of the competitive races this election cycle.
House District 55 (Hanover, Caroline, Spotsylvania)
Del. Buddy Fowler (R) is seeking his fifth term in the House of Delegates. He faces Rachel Levy (D), a public school teacher from Hanover County.
The district sits in a GOP stronghold and voted overwhelmingly for Republicans in most statewide elections recently. Fowler won the seat by more than 20 points in 2019.
House District 56 (Henrico, Goochland, Louisa, Spotsylvania)
Del. John McGuire (R), a former Navy SEAL and local business owner, has represented the district since 2018. The challenger is Blakely Lockhart (D), who grew up in Henrico and is trying to become the first “Gen Z” legislator in Virginia.
In a district that stretches from Short Pump to Louisa, GOP candidates perform well in statewide elections. McGuire easily won both of his previous races.
House District 61 (Amelia, Mecklenburg, Lunenburg, Nottoway, Cumberland)
Since the turn of the 21st century, Del. Thomas Wright (R) has represented the voters of the 61st District, which encompasses a large swath of Southside Virginia. Wright faces two challengers this cycle in Trudy Berry (D) and Libertarian candidate Joe Paschal.
Wright beat Berry in 2019 with nearly two-thirds of the votes in a district that leans heavily toward Republicans.
House District 62 (Chesterfield, Prince George, Hopewell)
Del. Carrie Coyner (R) is seeking her second term in the House of Delegates, after replacing a longtime member in 2020. Hopewell city councilor Jasmine Gore (D) is looking to become the first Democrat to win the seat since 1989.
For more than 30 years, the GOP has represented the district, which stretches from eastern Chesterfield to Hopewell. Coyner won the seat two years ago by more than ten points in a district that is favorable for Republicans.
House District 63 (Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Chesterfield)
Since winning the seat in 2015, Del. Lashrecse Aird (D) has been an active and vocal member of the Democratic caucus, even challenging for the position of House Speaker in 2019. Kim Taylor (R), a small business owner, is challenging for the seat.
Aird won the seat by more than ten points during the last election cycle. Although the district tends to vote for Democrats in statewide elections, VPAP lists the district as competitive.
House District 64 (Isle of Wight, Prince George, Surry, Sussex, Suffolk)
Incumbent Emily Brewer (R) won the seat back in 2017, and the small business owner seeks her third term in the legislature. Surry County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Michael Drewery(D), a farmer and lawyer, is challenging for the seat.
Republicans have controlled the district since 2012, and Brewer won each of the past two elections by more than 20 points.
House District 65 (Chesterfield, Goochland, Powhatan, Fluvanna, Louisa)
Since 1999, Del. Lee Ware (R) has represented the voters of HD-65, a conservative who does stray across party lines on some energy and environmental issues. Caitlin Coakley(D), a marketing consultant and former political reporter, is looking to unseat Ware.
Ware and former Del. John Watkins are the only two people to hold the seat since 1982. Voters have heavily favored GOP candidates in all recent statewide contests.
House District 66 (Chesterfield, Richmond, Colonial Heights)
For the first time in more than 30 years, former House Speaker Kirk Cox will not represent the 66th District in the legislature. Two candidates are seeking the seat: Colonial Heights City Councilman Mike Cherry (R), a local pastor, and Katie Sponsler (D), an Air Force veteran and U.S. Park Ranger.
The 66th District could be one of the more competitive seats this election cycle. Despite his popularity, Cox won the seat back in 2019 by about five percentage points, in a district that has narrowly favored Democrats in statewide races recently. VPAP lists the district as competitive.
House District 68 (Chesterfield, Richmond, Henrico)
Delegate Dawn Adams (D), a nurse practitioner, seeks her third term after winning the seat in 2017 as part of the “blue wave” election. Mark Earley (R), a lawyer who worked in Bob McDonnell’s administration, is seeking to win back the district. A special prosecutor cleared Earley following a paperwork complaint against him.
Since Adams won the seat, Republicans have targeted it as a possible flip in their favor, although Adams won by nearly 10 points in 2019. Voters have favored Democrats in statewide races recently, a possible sign of the shifting politics of the Richmond suburbs. VPAP lists the race as competitive.
House District 69 (Richmond)
In the Democratic stronghold, Del. Betsy Carr (D) is seeking her seventh term in the House of Delegates. Dr. Sheila Furey (R), a psychiatrist, is challenging Carr.
For decades, Democrats have held power in the 69th District where their statewide candidates typically win more than three-fourths of the vote.
House District 70 (Chesterfield, Henrico, Richmond Charles City)
For the first time in more than a decade, Del. Delores McQuinn (D), a leader in the Democratic caucus, faces a challenger for the seat she has held since 2009. David Vaught, who owns a security company, is running as an Independent.
Democrats in statewide races routinely win 75 percent of the vote in the 70th District.
House District 71 (Richmond)
Seeking his fourth term in office, Del. Jeff Bourne (D) has represented this Democratic stronghold since 2018 and taken a vocal role in pushing for criminal justice reform. Nancye Hunter (R) is a Richmond resident who said the events of the past year lead her to challenge for the seat.
Bourne and his predecessors have routinely tallied more than 85 percent of the vote for this seat in a district that heavily favors Democrats statewide.
House District 72 (Henrico)
A high school government teacher, Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg (D) flipped the seat for Democrats back in the 2017 “blue wave” election. Chris Holmes (R) is an Operations Infrastructure Manager and seeking to win the seat back for the GOP.
Prior to VanValkenburg’s tenure, Republicans held the 72nd House seat for decades. Much like most of the Richmond Metro, the political shift in Henrico has favored Democrats since 2017, making this race one of the closest watched each election cycle.
VanValkenburg won re-election by over 2,000 votes last time around. VPAP lists the district as competitive.
House District 73 (Henrico, Richmond)
In a rematch from 2019, Del. Rodney Willet (D) is seeking a second term in office. Financial analyst Mary Margaret Kastelberg (R) is once again vying to win the seat.
Two years ago, Willet defeated Kastleburg by almost 1,300 votes. Former U.S. House Speaker Eric Cantor (R) once represented this district, which like much of Henrico has favored Democrats of late. This makes the 73rd District one of the more competitive and compelling races in Central Virginia.
House District 74 (Henrico, Richmond)
The chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, Del. Lamont Bagby (D) is seeking re-election. Army veteran Jimmy Brooks is challenging him.
Democrats have represented the 74th District since the 1940s, as far back as the Virginia Department of Elections publishes election results for the district. Democrats routinely win around three-fourths of the vote in statewide contests.
House District 75 (Southampton, Brunswick, Sussex, Greenville, Franklin, Emporia, Lunenburg)
Del. Rosyln Tyler (D) first won the seat back in 2005, but faces a rematch against pharmacist Otto Wachsmann (R) in a district the encompasses a large swath of Southside Virginia.
Virginia Democrats have controlled the seat for decades, but in 2019, Tyler won by less than 500 votes. In recent statewide and national contests, a majority of voters in the 75th supported the Democrats, but Republican candidates were not far off.
House District 97 (Hanover, New Kent, King William)
In a district anchored in the Republican stronghold of Hanover County, Del. Scott Wyatt (R) is seeking re-election. Military veteran and defense contractor Stan Scott (D) is seeking to win the seat.
Since 2001, Republicans have won the 97th district with relative ease. Voters have heavily favored Republican statewide candidates in recent elections.
Richmond Casino Project
Richmond voters will decide whether or not a proposed gaming casino and resort will be built in the River City. Developers argue the project will bring more than 1,300 well-paying jobs and hundreds of millions in revenue for the city. The project would not receive public funding.
Opponents said developers are grossly overstating the economic impact for Richmond and that those revenues would come from people who struggle with gaming addiction, in many cases.
The exact question reads like this:
“Shall casino gaming be permitted at a casino gaming establishment in the City of Richmond, Virginia, at 2001 Walmsley Boulevard and 4700 Trenton Avenue, Richmond, Virginia 23234 as may be approved by the Virginia Lottery Board?”
Voters in the four other localities where state lawmakers allowed a casino project with voter approval passed the measures by a significant margin.
Commonwealth’s Attorney: Colette McEachin is running unopposed.
Sheriff: Antoinette Irving is seeking another term in office and faces a challenge from Michael Dickinson.
Treasurer: Nicole Armstead is seeking another term in office and faces Shirley Harvey.
Amelia County Board of Supervisors
DISTRICT 2: Constance “Connie” Banks, Dexter Jones, Patricia Archer, Robyn Whittington
DISTRICT 5: Todd Robinson, Rose Mastracco, Michael Weaver, Sarah “Dr. T-A” Tanner-Anderson
Colonial Heights City
Commissioner of Revenue: Willam “Bill” Feasenmyer, Jr.
Commonwealth’s Attorney: Gray Collins III
Sheriff: Todd Wilson
Treasurer: Tara Botts, Teresa Cherry
Commissioner of Revenue: James “Jimmy” Gillie
Commonwealth’s Attorney: Michael Newman
Sheriff: Michael “Mike” Mondul, Ril Mattison
Treasurer: Shelia Williamson-Branch
Goochland County School Board
DISTRICT 2: Billie Jo Leabough, Angela Small Allen
Ashland Town Council: John Hodges, Daniel McGraw, David Frisch
Commissioner of Revenue: Debra Kloske Reason
Commonwealth’s Attorney: Richard “Rick” Newman
Sheriff: Steve Kephart, Travis Stanley
Treasurer: A.J. Eavey III, Shannon Foskey
New Kent School Board
DISTRICT 5: Margaret “Molly” McBeath
Commissioner of Revenue: Brittany Flowers
Commonwealth’s Attorney: Tiffany Buckner
Sheriff: Vanessa Crawford
Treasurer: Manya Udaya Kumar, Paul Mullin, Jr.
Treasurer: Rebecca “Becky” Nunnally
Board of Supervisors, DISTRICT 2: Amy Kingery, Nathan Mitchell, Steven McClung
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Key Dates and Deadlines in Virginia
Friday, Sept. 17: Early, In-Person Voting Begins
Thursday, Oct. 12: Voter Registration Deadline
Friday, Oct. 22: Request Absentee/Mail-In Ballot Deadline
Saturday, Oct. 30: Early, In-Person Voting Ends
Tuesday, Nov. 2 is Election Day: In-Person Voting from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 2: Absentee/Mail-In Postmark by Date
Friday, Nov. 5: Absentee/Mail-In Delivered By Date