Virginia Democrats have six candidates vying for the lieutenant governor nomination this cycle. Only four of those candidates have put together a statewide campaign that could be considered competitive in the June 8 primary election, however.
State Del. Sam Rasoul, Del. Hala Ayala, Sean Perryman, and Norfolk City Councilor Andria McClellan have built their own coalition and raised enough money that they all have a potential chance at winning the nomination.
Rasoul has raised the most money; Ayala has garnered the most support from Democratic leaders in the General Assembly; Perryman has racked up local endorsements across the Commonwealth; and McClellan has raised the second most funds and has picked up a few big endorsements as well, like Congresswoman Elaine Luria, for example.
But the only polling on the race has shown Rasoul with a 10 point lead over any of the other candidates, though 64% of the respondents were still unsure as to who they would vote for in the June 8 primary.
Those poll numbers were released prior to Ayala receiving Governor Northam and Speaker Filler-Corn’s endorsement. She will likely gain some ground on Rasoul, but it is unclear as to what the impact of those endorsements, or Rasoul’s money, can have on a race that could net a below-average turnout.
Perryman, a former president of the Fairfax NAACP has found support among community leaders across the commonwealth and McClellan represents the most constituents out of anyone in the race, but neither one of them have legislated at the state level, an asset in a race with name ID on the ballot being relatively low.
This is an off-year election due to Virginia’s election schedule, potentially hampering turnout in June and November. Additionally, Donald Trump, a key driving force in Democratic turnout over the last four years will have been out of office for nearly six months by the day of the primary.
Turnout expectations from staffers and party strategists are not high.
Candidates in this race will need to get in front of voters and convince them to go and vote, something that is especially tricky during the pandemic when in-person events have been few-and-far-between.
The winner will be the candidate that receives the most voters — there is no specific threshold that needs to be met. This potentially leads to a situation where the presence of four competitive candidates on the ballot resulting in a nominee receiving around 30% of the primary vote.
Republicans have already nominated Winsome Sears, a former state delegate that pushes the far-right boundary of the ideological spectrum. Sears won in a nomination convention defeating former Del. Tim Hugo and Del. Glenn Davis quite handily. Hugo closed the gap in the final round but was unable to catch up to Sears.
Democratic candidates have less than 3 weeks to campaign and convince their party faithful that they are the best nominee to face Sears in November.
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