Last Tuesday the Virginia Democratic party held its primary election, whose winners are now the Democratic nominees for the statewide offices of Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General. Former Governor of Virginia Terry McAuliffe won the nomination in a crowded race, defeating strong candidates like Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy and Sen. Jennifer McClellan. McAuliffe won with 62% of the vote, with Carroll Foy and McClellan taking 20% and 12% respectively. McAuliffe won Fairfax County with 64.3%. His highest percentage in the 44th district was in Hollin Hall precinct at 72%.
Overall turnout across the Commonwealth for the primary was 8 percent of registered voters, down from the all-time record 9.9 percent recorded four years ago in 2017 but still among the highest that it has been since the early 1990s. Approximately 480,000 votes were cast in the primary, showing strong enthusiasm for this year’s elections. Of those votes cast, over 120,000 votes were cast early, before election day. In Fairfax County, 81,114 voters cast their ballots. In the 44th district, we had solid voter turnout. In Stratford and Hollin Hall precincts, 348 and 342 voters respectively braved the heat and downpours to cast their ballot. In my home precinct of Kirkside where I cast my ballot, I joined 298 fellow voters.
McAuliffe is no stranger to the governorship—as Governor from 2014 to 2018, he was instrumental in the expansion of Medicare for over 500,000 Virginians who are now able to visit their doctor, obtain life-saving prescriptions, and receive needed treatment for cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and much more. He pushed for universal pre-kindergarten and brought investment to the Commonwealth through Amazon’s HQ2. While Governor he helped us to eliminate five SOLs and invest a record $1 billion in Virginia’s K-12 public schools. He garnered the endorsement of current Governor Ralph Northam during the primary and will ensure the continuation of the present Virginia Democratic agenda. I am excited about McAuliffe as a candidate and the potential of the Commonwealth under his leadership. If he wins the election, he will be the second Governor of Virginia to serve a second term since the Constitution was amended in 1830 to change the thrice renewable one-year term length to a non-renewable three-year term (the 1851 Constitution of Virginia lengthened the term to our present-day four years). The other was Governor Mills Godwin who was our 60th and 62nd Governor, first as a Democrat in 1966 and then as a Republican in 1974. McAuliffe will be bidding to become not just our 72nd but our 74th Governor of the Commonwealth too.
The former Governor will be running against Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy business executive, also from Northern Virginia, making his first foray into politics. With the donor power of Youngkin and McAuliffe, this governor’s race is shaping up to be a very expensive one. Be prepared for a barrage of television commercials, mail, and even advertisements on social media. Campaigns for Governor usually begin in earnest around Labor Day, but this one is already heating up.
Also on Tuesday, Hala Ayala won the Democratic nomination for Lieutenant Governor with 38% of the vote. Delegate Sam Rasoul took 24%, and all other candidates received 11% or less. Delegate Ayala won Fairfax County with 33.5%; and Ayala, who is Afro Latina, Lebanese, and Irish, would be the first woman to be Lieutenant Governor. Her best precinct result was the 59% she garnered in Kirkside. After graduating from Woodbridge High School, Ayala started her career as a cybersecurity specialist and later as Delegate representing Virginia’s 51st District. As Delegate, she was instrumental in increasing funding for special education programs and working to cap prices of insulin and inhalers for Virginians, among other important initiatives. She will be running against Republican nominee Winsome Sears, who is also a woman of color and a former one-term Delegate from the 90th District (Norfolk and Virginia Beach). So, despite who wins the election in November, a glass ceiling will be broken.
Mark Herring rounds out the Democratic slate as the nominee for attorney general. Herring beat rising-star Delegate Jay Jones, with 57% to 43% of the vote respectively and he dominated up here in Fairfax County with 70% of the election day vote. Attorney General Herring, the incumbent, has served the Commonwealth well since 2014, with his first term as Attorney General alongside Governor McAuliffe, and second with Governor Northam. One of his more prominent actions during his time in office was his strong stance against the Virginia Marriage Amendment, which denies same-sex marriage. He refused to defend the discriminatory amendment in federal court, and it was later ruled unconstitutional. This November, Herring will be running against Republican nominee, Delegate Jason Miyares, whose mother fled Cuba in 1965. He is a former criminal prosecutor from Virginia Beach who joined the General Assembly when I did in 2016.
All eyes are on Virginia as we are one of the few states holding statewide elections this November. It will be seen as a temperature check for the nation as a whole, but it is, more importantly, an opportunity for us to shape the future of our Commonwealth.
As I drove to the many polling locations in the 44th district last Tuesday I was struck by the steady number of voters and the many outdoor Democratic party poll watchers helping to sign up new volunteers and answer any questions. It was great to chat with so many neighbors, activists, and volunteers. I would like to personally thank all of the volunteers and the inside poll workers, and voters who participated in the primary elections, or convention process, in the case of the Republican party’s selection process. Voting is an incredibly important responsibility in a democracy like ours and it is good to see so many fellow Virginians participating. Between now and November I look forward to working with the slate of Democratic candidates on both policy issues and rallying civic engagement.