Va. Democratic primary concludes Tuesday
McAuliffe, Herring hold substantial leads in new Roanoke College poll
Tuesday is the final day for Virginians to vote in the Democratic primary races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Based on a recent poll by Roanoke College, two familiar faces — former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Attorney Gen. Mark Herring — are likely to win handily, but the lieutenant governor nomination is still up for grabs.
Early voting for the primary started in late April, but according to state elections officials, turnout has been relatively low. They expect larger crowds on Tuesday than last year’s in-person elections turnout during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since McAuliffe announced his bid for a second gubernatorial term, he has raised more money than his competitors and held significant leads in polls this spring. In the June 4 Roanoke College survey of likely primary voters, McAuliffe had 49% support, outpacing former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who was in second with 11% and state Sen. Jennifer McClellan with 9%, followed by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax with 5% and Del. Lee Carter at 1%.
Herring, who is running for his third term as the state’s top prosecutor, also had 49% support in the Roanoke College poll, followed by challenger Del. Jay Jones, with 20% of polled voters’ support.
“To the surprise of few, McAuliffe and Herring appear headed for victory on Tuesday,” Harry Wilson, senior political analyst of the Roanoke College Poll, said in a statement. “The race for lieutenant governor is there for the taking, with a large percentage of the electorate undecided on their decision. It is also clear that the Democratic primary electorate in Virginia is well-educated, upper-income and very liberal, but McAuliffe, arguably not the most far-left candidate, appears set to win the election.”
As for the lieutenant governor seat, Del. Hala Ayala, who has received Gov. Ralph Northam’s endorsement, led the poll with 16%, followed by Del. Sam Rasoul’s 11% support, with five more candidates trailing. However, a whopping 45% of people polled were still undecided on this race in late May.
Ayala, who pledged not to take campaign funding from Dominion Energy Inc. and then accepted $100,000 from the powerful Fortune 500 utility, has been subject to criticism from progressives in recent days, including Clean Virginia PAC runner Michael Bills, who funds candidates who agree not to take money from Dominion.
The Democratic nominees will face Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin, lieutenant governor nominee Winsome Sears and attorney general nominee Del. Jason Miyares.
In some localities, Virginians also will have the opportunity to choose Democratic and Republican nominees for delegate seats Tuesday (although they must vote in only one party’s primary). One hotly contested seat is in Prince William County, where state Del. Elizabeth Guzman dropped out of the lieutenant governor race in April to defend her seat against three other Democrats.
In Richmond’s 68th District, incumbent Del. Dawn Adams is being challenged by Richmond attorney Kyle R. Elliott on the Democratic side. On the Republican side, attorney Mark Earley Jr. is running against far-right candidate Mike Dickinson, although both have received negative press in recent weeks — Earley for a campaign finance disclosure complaint by Dickinson, whose recent criminal misdemeanor convictions were brought to light last week.
For more information on the primaries and what to expect on your ballot, visit the Virginia Department of Elections.