Virginia Viewpoint – June 21, 2023 – Primary Election Results

June 21, 2023

Virginia’s Primary Election Results- What’s happening and Why it matters.

Amidst hotly contested races, Virginia voters visited the polls yesterday to pick political party nominees for November’s legislative contests.  This year’s legislative elections in Virginia will determine the fate of high-profile issues like abortion and gun policy, control of two narrowly divided statehouses, and Governor Youngkin’s legislative agenda.

This is the first election since the state Supreme Court stepped in and appointed special masters to draw redraw the state legislative districts – with no regard to where incumbents lived – pitting sitting legislators against each other. Leading up to yesterday’s primary, both Republicans and Democrats navigated these newly drawn district lines with both parties touting paths to success in capturing the majority in each chamber later this year.  Currently Republicans have a 52 – 48 majority in the House of Delegates and Democrats have a 21 – 19 majority in the Senate.

With only one party on the ballot, Virginia’s June legislative primaries historically have a much lower voter participation than the general election in November and this year was no different.  Some localities even saw an unprecedented call to action by Republican Committees urging Republican voters to vote for specific candidates in Democratic races. Since Virginia voters do not register by party, anyone can vote in these open primaries, regardless of whether they consider themselves Democrat, Republican or independent.

This year’s primaries saw more progressive “up-and-comers” challenging veteran legislators, local rivalries deepening, scrutiny over campaign financing, and controversy running wild.

Key Election Results:

Central VA-

Touting preserving Virginia’s abortion rights, former Delegate Lashrecse Aird defeated the self-proclaimed “pro-life”, scandal burdened Senator Joe Morrissey.

Former Senator Glen Sturtevant defeated incumbent “Trump in heels” Senator Amanda Chase and nonprofit executive Tina Ramirez.

Valley-

Senator Creigh Deeds defeated University professor, Delegate Sally Hudson in the newly drawn 11th district including Charlottesville and Albemarle County.

Northern VA-

Former Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy who finished second in the 2021 Democratic gubernatorial primary defeated former Delegate Haya Ayala who ran for Lieutenant Governor in the 2021 election.

Longtime legislator Senator George Barker was ousted by a more progressive, Fairfax School Board Member Stella Pekarsky.

Veteran Senator Chap Peterson was defeated by Saddam Azlan Salim, a first-generation immigrant from Bangladesh currently consulting at the federal level.

Senator Dave Marsden easily defeated challenger Heidi Drauschak, a small business owner who previously worked in the Obama White House.

In the highly contested race in Senate District 29 (Prince William/Stafford), Senator Jeremy McPike currently leads Delegate Elizabeth Guzman by a slim margin of 46 votes.  Final results are expected by Friday, June 23, 2023.

Hampton Roads-

Small business owner, Delegate Emily Brewer defeated retired NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler. This district (17th Senate District) is one of a handful of swing districts that is expected to determine which party holds a majority of seats in the state Senate starting in 2024.

After redistricting resulted in a faceoff between two sitting Senators, Senator Louis Lucas defeated Senator Lionell Spruill in this closely watched race between experienced candidates.

The Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) lists all of the primary election results here- https://www.vpap.org/electionresults/20230620/senate/.

So, what does this mean?

The stakes have never been higher with all 140 General Assembly seats across the two chambers up this year.  As the only major set of legislative elections in a purple state this year, the races are seen as something of a bellwether for the broader electorate.  Governor Youngkin, who has not entirely closed the door on running for president, could use total control of the state legislature to pass his agenda in a blue-leaning state.

All eyes will be on Virginia because trends here will tell us a lot about what to expect in the 2024 Presidential election.

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