For the last several months, America’s Voice Virginia has been working with CASA in Action, CCCA, and NextGen America to turn out immigrant and Latino voters on November 7.
In Virginia, the top three elected officials in the state — Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General — as well as all 100 seats in the House of Delegates are on the ballot.
Given the growing immigrant, Latino, and Asian population, particularly in Northern Virginia, the statewide races and key battles for House of Delegates have presented an opportunity for allies to help elect supportive allies.
In Virginia, there’s an open seat for Governor as incumbent Terry McAuliffe is term-limited. The Democratic candidate is Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam. On the Republican side, we have former RNC Chair Ed Gillespie, who became the party candidate after barely defeating Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart, who ran a an outspoken and nasty anti-immigrant, pro-confederacy campaign, in a race that “wasn’t supposed to be close.” Throughout the primary, Stewart pulled Gillespie further to the extreme right on key issues, including opposition to the removal of Confederate statues. During the general election, Gillespie adopted Stewart’s racist, anti-immigrant tactics.
VA Lieutenant Governor
There are also competitive races on both sides for Lieutenant Governor (a key job given the 21-19 makeup of the State Senate). The Democratic nominee is Justin Fairfax, a former federal prosecutor. His GOP opponent is Jill Vogel, a state senator who survived a nasty primary campaign with another state Senator, Glenn Reeves, that got to the point of lawsuits over emails accusing Reeves of having an affair.
Attorney General Mark Herring (D), who has been a strong advocate for immigrants and refugees, is running for reelection. His opponent is Republican John Adams.
Virginia House of Delegates
All 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are on the ballot.
While Virginia has trended blue in statewide elections, Republicans control the 100-seat House of Delegates by a margin of 66-34. An analysis by Daily Kos Elections found that 51 House districts voted for Hillary Clinton, including 17 that are currently held by Republicans. This year, there are Democratic candidates in all of those districts — and, in another sign of enthusiasm, Democrats have fielded candidates in 88 of the 100 races.
Several of the battleground races are in Northern Virginia and have high percentages of Latino and Asian voters. They are also districts which Hillary Clinton won. In House District 31, which has a 14% Latino population and is in Prince William and Fauquier Counties, Elizabeth Guzman (D) is vying to be the first Latina elected to the Virginia House. She is challenging Republican Delegate Scott Lingamfelter (R). In the race for the open senate in HD 4, the Latino population is 9% while the Asian population is 16%. In this Fairfax County seat, Democrat Kathy Tran is running against Republican Lolita Mancheno-Smoak. She would be the first Asian-American delegate in the Virginia House.
The importance of the House races was laid out by Dave Wasserman at the Cook Political Report in a piece titled, Why Virginia’s Delegate Races Could Be the Most Telling 2017 Elections:
The races that could best harbingers of November 2018 aren’t likely to get much national coverage at all: all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are up for election this November.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on the amazing allied candidates in many of these races. The enthusiasm is so strong for House candidates that, in the New York Times, Northern Virginia Delegate Mark Keam, “predicted a ‘reverse coattails’ effect, where the enthusiasm for delegate candidates would bubble up to statewide nominees, especially Ralph Northam.”
There have been nearly 98,000 absentee ballot requests in 2017, compared to 54,991 from 2013.
As retired Arlington County Treasurer Frank O’Leary, who has a great track record of predicting what happens in Arlington based on absentee voting, said:
Turnout in Arlington should be a record-breaker… more than 80,000 votes cast… which would be almost Presidential.
Absentee requests for Northern Virginia 2017 (2013 stats) via VPAP:
- Statewide: 225,990 (128,497)
- Fairfax County: 47,589 (27,344) **Kathy Tran, Karrie Delaney territory**
- Prince William County: 14,588 (6,558) **Ayala, Guzman, Foy, Roem**
- Arlington County: 14,321 (7,544)
- Loudoun County: 11,796 (6,811) *
- Fauquier County: 2,063 (1,008)
- Manassas City: 1,240 (447)
- Manassas Park City: 462 (183)
- There are a significant number of people whose voting rights Terry McAuliffe has restored. African-Americans are heavily overrepresented (compared to state population data) in that group.
- Dems are contesting most Republican-held House of Delegates seats, while the Republicans are not contesting most of the Democratic seats. More than a week ago Gov. McAuliffe predicted that Dems would pick up perhaps 5-7 seats, but if turnout is up that number could increase.
- The Dems have a huge advantage in ground game. I have lived in Virginia since October of 1982. I have never in an odd year election (put into Virginia for state races precisely to keep the turnout down) ever seen a ground game like we are seeing this year.
Given the polls and the fact that this an off-year election, the ground game is incredibly important this cycle. What we have seen from the groups has been very impressive and should provide an important boost for the statewide candidates who support our issues. And, again, there’s excitement for House of Delegates candidates like there has never been before for Democrats.
According to the VA Democratic Party, on the first 2 days of GOTV they had over 12,000 volunteers who knocked on 580,000 doors across the commonwealth. Not to mention the nearly 56,000 doors CASA volunteers will have knocked on in Northern Virginia alone by Election Day.
Gillespie’s ugly anti-immigrant campaign has raised the stakes in Virginia. Gillespie and his campaign have been roundly criticized by editorials and even fellow Republicans. And to prove the point, the Washington Post reported that Steve Bannon claims the Donald Trump and Corey Stewart are the reasons Gillespie will win on Tuesday:
It was the Trump-Stewart talking points that got Gillespie close and even maybe to victory. It was embracing Trump’s agenda as personified by Corey’s platform. This was not a competitive race four weeks ago. You could have stuck a fork in Gillespie… I think the reason [Trump] didn’t win Virginia is that we fired Corey — otherwise, we would have been more competitive.
If we wanted to win badly before, this makes us want it even more. We’ve been saying it for weeks, but Gillespie’s hate tactics truly represent the GOP’s 2018 strategy. Even in a loss, there will be voices that will say that Gillespie didn’t lean in far enough, that he “wasn’t the right messenger.” But hateful, anti-immigrant politics will never be the right message.