Getting Virginians out to vote in next week’s Democratic primary could be the candidates’ biggest challenge, especially those running for lieutenant governor, attorney general and seats in the House of Delegates.  Virginia Tech political expert Karen Hult is available for analysis of the races that are often in the shadows of the more publicized gubernatorial primary.   

·       Lieutenant Governor:  “This race features the greatest diversity of the statewide Democratic nomination races in racial-ethnic, gender, religious, and geographic terms.  Although each emphasizes somewhat different issues, all support initiatives to fight climate change, increase access to affordable health care, and further overhaul the state’s criminal justice system. Del. Hala Ayala has been endorsed by Governor Ralph Northam and by the two top leaders in the House of Delegates. Sam Rasoul has raised the most money, followed by Mark Levine and Andria McClellan.” Ayala most recently has been the center of some controversy for her acceptance of campaign contributions from the Dominion Energy PAC after earlier pledges not to do so.

·       Attorney General:  “The race between two-term incumbent Mark Herring and second-term Delegate Jay Jones highlights generational dynamics in the state Democratic Party and ongoing efforts among many state Democrats to boost attention to issues of systemic racism race and civil rights more generally. It also suggests some of differences among Democrats with, for example, Governor Northam and former AG Mary Sue Terry endorsing Jones.”   

·       House of Delegates:  “Democratic incumbents in House of Delegates races have more primary challengers than at any point since at least 1999, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. There are 19 contested Democratic nominations on Tuesday, with 14 incumbents facing challengers in the Tuesday primaries, along with three Republican incumbents.  It is critical for Democrats to keep control of the House and protect the significant changes the Democratic-controlled legislature made in the last legislative session.”

“Particularly given the relatively large proportion of undecided voters (over 60%) in recent polls, each campaign’s turnout efforts and ability to reach voters through television, mail, and electronic media seem particularly important,” said Hult.

Professor Karen Hult teaches political science at Virginia Tech and its Center for Public Administration & Policy, with expertise in the U.S. Presidency and organizational and institutional theory. She serves on the advisory board to the White House Transition Project.

To schedule an interview with Karen Hult, contact Bill Foy by email, or by phone at (540) 998-0288.

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