By Joe Garvey
Will this year's Virginia gubernatorial election be a harbinger of national 2022 trends? How will the election impact policy and what are the stakes? What are key races to watch and key take-aways from this campaign? How are election reforms impacting this election?
These are just some of the topics Old Dominion University political scientists will cover during a virtual panel discussion at 2 p.m. Nov. 1. You can join the Zoom conversation at this link: https://odu.zoom.us/j/97259752478.
Athena King, Benjamin Melusky and Jesse Richman will take audience questions as part of the discussion, which will be moderated by Michael Clemons.
Heading into the Nov. 2 election, Democrats control the three major statewide offices on the ballot - governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general - and both houses of the General Assembly. Polling indicates a tight race between former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin.
"The race for governor is garnering extraordinary national attention because it is the only statewide contest this year in a state that is by any definition or stretch a swing state," Richman said. "Thus, how the candidates perform is being scrutinized by strategists across the country for hints concerning the 2022 midterms."
Melusky noted that the national attention is attracting big bucks.
"Money has flowed into the commonwealth, breaking previous fundraising records," he said. "As the governor's race heads into its final week, this will go down as the most expensive governor's race to date."
Richman added that both candidates have hurdles to overcome.
"McAuliffe faces headwinds from President Biden's decreasing popularity in Virginia," Richman said. "Youngkin faces the challenge of persuading voters who disapprove of Biden - but not strongly - to support a Republican in the face of high-intensity attacks from McAuliffe."
Democrats hold a 55-45 majority in the House of Delegates. They are incumbents in 16 of the 22 races that the website ballotpedia.org characterizes as "battlegrounds."
"The General Assembly races are getting less attention but could be consequential nonetheless," Richman said. "While there are no Senate contests this cycle, all members of the House of Delegates are facing reelection. A good night for either party could make the difference in shaping whether the state legislature remains in Democratic Party hands or is divided with the Republicans returning to a House majority.
"While the Senate will stay with a Democratic majority, that majority is slim enough (21-18) that a resignation, party change or other single-district change could tie the chamber, making the outcome of the lieutenant governor race more important."