New Poll Shows Virginia Gubernatorial Race in a ‘Dead Heat’

A new poll announced Thursday has Virginia’s gubernatorial race in a statistical tie, with early voting beginning Friday. According to an Emerson College poll commissioned by WRIC, Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe has the support of 49 percent of likely voters while GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin has 45 percent. That’s within the margin of error: plus or minus 3.4 percent.

“Statistically speaking, the poll isn’t telling you that McAuliffe is going to win or Youngkin is going to lose. It is really saying it is a dead heat,” Emerson College Polling Director Spencer Kimball told WRIC.

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Youngkin Rails Against Northam/McAuliffe Mask Mandates at Southwest Virginia Rally

Claytor Lake, Virginia- Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia Glenn Youngkin railed against the McAuliffe-Northam mask mandates at a rally in Pulaski County on Saturday. Youngkin sat down with The Virginia Star after his rally to discuss school mask mandates.

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Northam Mask Guidelines Reinvigorate Youngkin Campaign Messaging, Other Elections Updates

Governor Ralph Northam’s new mask and vaccine guidelines are reinvigorating Glenn Youngkin’s campaign messaging. On Thursday, Northam announced that state employees need to get vaccinated or be regularly tested for COVID, and said that people in schools need to wear masks.

In response, Youngkin came out strong: “[Northam] actually misstated and misrepresented CDC guidelines in order to declare a mask mandate for school,” he said on WTVR.

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Virginia Senate Republicans Angry After Democrats Interview Court of Appeals Candidates in Private

RICHMOND, Virginia – Republican legislators say that Democrats are leaving them out of the process of vetting candidates to fill eight Virginia Court of Appeals seats. Next week, legislators are expected to appoint judges to the newly-expanded court. But Democrats privately interviewed the candidates on Wednesday and only intend to advance eight candidates to be approved by the General Assembly, as first reported by The Virginia Mercury and The Richmond Times-Dispatch. On Thursday, Republican and Democratic senators went back-and-forth on the Senate floor about the process.

“I am confident that there were no Republicans who were invited to participate in those interviews and I just want to point out that it seems to be a little bit of a theme that has developed during the course of this session,” Senator Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) said. “There is way too much business that’s being conducted behind closed doors, out of the view of the public.”

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Virginia House Democrats Defeat Republican Proposals to Alter American Rescue Plan Act Spending Bill

RICHMOND, Virginia – The House of Delegates voted against several Republican attempts to change proposals to allocate $4.3 billion in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds on Tuesday afternoon. House Republicans led by Delegate Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) introduced an alternate bill, but it was defeated 53 to 43. House Democrats also defeated amendments from Delegate Glenn Davis (R-Virginia Beach) and attorney general candidate Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach).

“It is a shame that despite our concerns that this process was not opened up to the traditional committee vetting process, that members on this side of the aisle were told, and frankly on your side of the aisle were told, ‘Your input is not welcome.’ I would have hoped that in this process we would have at least been afforded the opportunity to explain our bill, but instead we are left with the inevitable two minutes,” Gilbert said.

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Virginia Gubernatorial Candidate Youngkin Proposes Spending on Taxpayer Relief, Businesses, Education, and Public Safety

RICHMOND,Virginia – Glenn Youngkin announced his $5.8 billion plan for spending Virginia’s surplus revenue and federal American Rescue Plan Act [ARPA] funds at a press conference Thursday morning. The list include $1.5 for taxpayer and family relief; $2.6 billion for jobs, small business, and broadband; $1.2 billion for education; and $0.5 billion for public safety and mental health.

“Thanks to the McAuliffe-Northam failures, the murder rate in Virginia is at a 20-year high. Our economy has fallen behind, jobs have come back slower, and our cost of living is way too high. Our schools are underperforming, and as a result, taxpayers, families, seniors, and our children are suffering,” Youngkin said. “The change we need will not come from a failed politician with stale ideas that he failed to deliver when he had his chance as governor.”

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Governor’s Race Draws Record-Breaking June Fundraising; McAuliffe Out-Raises Youngkin

Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin

Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe have already raised a combined $40 million, according to new finance data through June, reported by the Virginia Public Access Project. A VPAP graphic shows that previous years through 2001, previous fundraising through June never reached $20 million. The June period is the first reporting period after the parties nominated their candidates.

Due to $12 million in personal loans, Youngkin out-raised McAuliffe in the January through May period. But McAuliffe’s June fundraising beat Youngkin. McAuliffe raised about $7.5 million in June, while Youngkin raised about $3.6 million.

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Former Ambassador Haley Stumps for Youngkin in Virginia

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley spoke in a Glenn Youngkin rally Tuesday. Over a hundred supporters and volunteers packed into a too-small, overheated room at Youngkin’s Richmond base. Haley, who also served as South Carolina governor, explained why she was supporting Youngkin.

She said she spoke with Youngkin before he decided to run.

Haley said, “He told me, ‘Well you know I’ve never held a political position before.’ And I said, ‘That’s what’s going to make you good.'”

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Youngkin, Miyares, Sears Stop in Chester for Take Back Virginia Rally

CHESTER, Virginia – The GOP candidates for governor, attorney general, and lieutenant governor stopped in Chester on Saturday afternoon for a rally with about 350 attendees. In 90-degree heat Glenn Youngkin, Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach), and Winsome Sears spoke, mentioning Juneteenth, opposed Critical Race Theory in schools, and called for tough-on-crime policies.

“Virginians for the last eight years have been crushed. And I’ll say right here, right now, eight is enough,” Youngkin said.

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Virginia Attorney General Candidates Attack Each Other’s Weaknesses at First Debate

Attorney General Mark Herring and Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) laid out competing visions for the Office of Attorney General in their first debate Tuesday.

Herring said the attorney general should work for safety, justice, equality, and opportunity for all Virginians. “I believe the attorney general should be the people’s lawyer,” Herring said.

In his opening remarks, Miyares cited his experience as a prosecutor, “which I think is so important when you’re running to be Virginia’s top cop,” he said.

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Independent Investigators Release Report on Investigation into Virginia Parole Board Investigation

Independent investigators found probable bias in the Office of the State Inspector General’s investigation (OSIG) into the Vincent Martin parole case, according to a report released Monday. The report says that OSIG’s investigation was not thorough enough and says OSIG failed to identify likely bias in its Senior Investigator Jennifer Moschetti. It also says the OSIG investigation and findings were not influenced by Governor Ralph Northam.

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Youngkin Nearly Tied with McAuliffe in New Poll; DPVA and RPV Attack Each Other’s Candidates

The Virginia gubernatorial race is neck-and-neck, according to a new poll. 46 percent of respondents support former Governor Terry McAuliffe and 42 percent support GOP nominee Glenn Youngkin, with a 4.2 percent margin of error. The phone poll of 550 likely voters was conducted by JMC Analytics from June 9-12, and was commissioned by CNalysis with funds from 141 donors.

House of Delegates races are even closer. The poll found that 44 percent would support a Democratic candidate for House and 43 percent would support a Republican candidate. Democrats have stronger leads in the Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor elections.

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President Biden Gives Memorial Day Weekend Address in Hampton

President Joe Biden gave a Memorial-Day-weekend speech at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton on Friday afternoon. He highlighted the humility and sacrifice of the military and their families and emphasized that they defended the American principle that all men and women are equal. He also mentioned the service and death of his son Beau Biden.

“He was like a lot of you. You do your duty. You don’t expect anything for it except people having a general respect,” Biden said.

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46 Apply for Seven Seats on the Virginia Court of Appeals

Lewis F. Powell Courthouse

Virginia’s Court of Appeals is expanding by six seats and filling a seventh seat left vacant. 46 people have applied for the positions, triggering delays to meet a July 1 deadline. Still, the General Assembly is expected to fill the seats this summer at a yet-to-be-scheduled special session.

In the first 2021 General Assembly special session, legislators passed SB 1261, adding the six seats to the court.

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Gubernatorial Candidate Terry McAuliffe Makes Transition from Primary to General Election

With three weeks to go before the Democratic Party primary on June 8th, former Virginia Governor and Clinton confidante Terry McAuliffe transitioned his campaign to the general election with a series of social media posts attacking Republican gubernatorial nominee, Glenn Youngkin.

On the heels of the Youngkin announcement, McAuilffe blasted his Republican opponent by tweeting, “Let me introduce you to Glenn Youngkin: Glenn’s a Ted Cruz and Corey Stewart-endorsed, self-funding, Big Lie believing Trump loyalist who’ll stop at nothing to advance the GOP’s extreme agenda.

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Republicans Pick Winsome Sears for Lieutenant Governor, Completing Their Ticket for 2021 Election

Winsome Sears is the Republican Party of Virginia’s (RPV) nominee for lieutenant governor. With her nomination, the Republicans have their ticket: former Carlyle CEO Glenn Youngkin for governor, current Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) for attorney general, and Sears, who represented Virginia Beach in the House of Delegates from 2002-2003, and then challenged U.S. Representative Bobby Scott (D-Virginia-03) in 2004.

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Second-Place Republican Party of Virginia Attorney General Candidate Requests Recount

Chuck Smith

Republican Party of Virginia attorney general candidate Chuck Smith wants a recount after narrowly losing the nomination to Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach.) Smith is concerned about problems in the third round of ballot counting, when candidate Jack White’s votes were allocated to Miyares and Smith.

“In the third round in the attorney general’s race there was a lot of confusion in and among the tellers counting in the third round, with ballots counted for me attributed to the Miyares stack and ballots counted for Miyares attributed to the stack for me,” Smith wrote in a press release sent to reporters on Monday.

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RPV Unassembled Convention Goes Smoothly with About 29,000 Ballots Cast

The Republican Party of Virginia held its unassembled convention to pick party nominees for governor, attorney general, and lieutenant governor on Saturday. Official results will be slow to come in, thanks in part to a decision to hand-count the tens of thousands of ranked-choice ballots. As a result, campaigns and elections watchers are looking at turnout estimates for clues about who the nominees might be. Estimates from Republican Governor’s Association officials claim about 52 percent of the over 53,000 registered delegates turned out.

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Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association Starts Podcast Series on 2021 Candidates and Healthcare

Set up of podcast with microphone and desktop computer with editing software.

The Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association (VHHA) have announced a podcast series focusing on the 2021 candidates for office and their stances on healthcare. The series features statewide candidates from both parties addressing the healthcare issues of the Commonwealth. 

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Virginia Abolishes Death Penalty

Virginia became the first state in the south to abolish the death penalty when Governor Ralph Northam announced Thursday that he signed twin death-penalty repeal bills introduced by Delegate Mike Mullin (D-Newport News) and Senator Scott Surovell (D-Fairfax). Virginia joins 22 other states that have also repealed the death penalty.

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Northam Snubs Herring, Endorses Jones for Attorney General

Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk) picked up a big endorsement in the race for Attorney General this week. Governor Ralph Northam chose to endorse Jones instead of incumbent Attorney General Mark Herring, Northam’s former running mate.

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Delegates Receive $8,651 Average in Per Diems from 2021 Sessions

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates earn $17,640 per year and a per diem of $211 while in session, including days off during the session. The per diem is meant to help legislators pay for housing costs ($145/day) and food ($66/day) while in Richmond, but legislators have continued accepting the per diem even during the virtual house sessions of 2021 and 2020. For the 2021 sessions alone, that added up to an average total per diem per delegate of $8,651 — over $800,000 for all 100 delegates, according to reporting by The Virginian-Pilot.

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Virginia Legislators Call for New Parole Board Investigation After More Details Leaked About Release of Man Convicted of Killing Police Officer

Legislators are calling for a new investigation into alleged misconduct by the Virginia Parole Board (VPB). Last summer, a leaked six-page report from the Office of the State Inspector General detailed how the VPB violated laws and policies when, in April 2020, it decided to parole Vincent Martin without giving his victims the required 50-day notice. Martin was serving a life sentence for killing police officer Michael Connors in 1979, and was released last June. But a new 13-page draft of the report leaked this week, first reported by WTVR, revealing more details about the alleged misconduct by the board and by former Chair Adrianne Bennett, who is now a judge.

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Senate Approves Adding Six Judges to Virginia’s Appeals Court

A bill to add six judges to the Virginia Court of Appeals passed the Senate 21 to 18 on Friday. The bill would also create a right to appeal, something that every other state already has, but that advocates say is currently impossible due to the court’s manpower shortage. The court has just 11 judges, while states with similar populations often have more. However, Republicans oppose the bill because judges would be elected in the Democrat-controlled General Assembly.

SB 1261 sponsor State Senator John Edwards (D-Roanoke) said in committee on January 25 that Virginia’s current system gives no automatic right of appeal in any Virginia court.

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House Passes Bill to Study Potential Universal Healthcare in Virginia

The House of Delegates voted 55 to 45 on Thursday to initiate a study of how to fund a potential universal healthcare program in Virginia. HB2271 says the study should examine both a publicly-funded model administered by the Commonwealth and a publicly-funded model administered by a private entity. The report would be due in October 2022.

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House Passes Bill to Study Potential Universal Healthcare in Virginia

The House of Delegates voted 55 to 45 on Thursday to initiate a study of how to fund a potential universal healthcare program in Virginia. HB2271 says the study should examine both a publicly-funded model administered by the Commonwealth and a publicly-funded model administered by a private entity. The report would be due in October 2022.

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Virginia House Public Safety Subcommittee Killing Bills Limiting Executive Order Power

  Delegate Kirk Cox’s House bill limiting the length of executive orders will likely die in committee after a Public Safety subcommittee recommended tabling the bill. HB 2087, if passed, would limit the length of Governor Ralph Northam’s executive orders to just 45 days unless the General Assembly passes an…

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Year-End Campaign Fundraising Haul for Virginia’s Statewide Candidates Shows McAuliffe Far Ahead, Followed by Foy

With Virginia’s statewide elections for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general drawing ever closer, candidates’ campaign finance reports literally show who has been busy fundraising, but can also offer an early glimpse of their viability in the races. 

On Saturday, year-end fundraising reports, covering the second half of last year from July 1st to December 31st, for each statewide candidate were released to the public. The Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) compiled the numbers and listed the cash on hand for each candidate.

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Chesterfield Supervisor Leslie Haley Announces Run for Attorney General

Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors member and lawyer Leslie Haley announced her bid for the Republican nomination in the 2021 Virginia attorney general election on Thursday. 

Haley, who has represented the Midlothian District on the board since 2016 with stints as both the chair and vice chair, launched her campaign to be the Commonwealth’s top attorney through a press release and short video. 

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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Launches Office of Civil Rights

Following a summer of civil unrest over social injustice throughout the Commonwealth, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) announced the launch of the Office of Civil Rights on Tuesday.

The Office of Civil Rights will operate within the larger Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and is supposed to help ongoing efforts to protect against discrimination and the civil rights of all Virginians, according to a press release.

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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring Launches Reelection Bid for Third Term

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) formally launched his re-election bid for a third term as the Commonwealth’s top lawyer last week.

Herring, 59, officially announced his campaign for the 2021 race through a video on Twitter where he described himself as “the people’s lawyer” and highlighted several legal wins while in office.

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Virginia Republicans Blast Northam’s Budget Proposal to Expand Court of Appeals

After Governor Ralph Northam made a number of proposals to the state’s biennial budget on Wednesday, several Republican legislators rebuked the Democrat’s recommendation to expand the Virginia Court of Appeals and claimed he was trying to pack the court.

Northam presented his budget proposals during a virtual meeting with the House of Delegates and Senate appropriation committees.

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Virginia State Senator Sues Democratic Leaders Over Public Access to Office Building

Republican Senator Bill DeSteph (R-Virginia Beach) is suing Democratic legislative leaders over plans to restrict the public’s access to the Pocahontas Building during the upcoming regular session due to a rise in COVID-19 numbers.

On Tuesday, DeSteph filed a complaint in Richmond Circuit Court against Speaker of the House Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County), Senate Rules Committee Chair Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), both the clerk of the House and the Senate as well as the Virginia Division of Capitol Police.

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Delegate Jason Miyares Announces Run for Attorney General

Virginia State Delegate Jason Miyares (R-Virginia Beach) announced Wednesday that he is running for the GOP nomination of attorney general in 2021.

Miyares, who has represented the 82nd District of the House of Delegates since 2016, made the announcement through a video posted to his Facebook profile.

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Virginia House Will Remain Virtual in 2021; Republicans Leaders Want to Keep Regular Session at 30 Days

Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax County) announced Monday that the Virginia House of Delegates would continue to meet virtually during the upcoming 2021 General Assembly regular session, just as they did during the special session, because of the current status of the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the emailed statement, Filler-Corn’s decision was made after discussions with the Clerk of the House and officials from the Virginia Department of Health, which includes a letter from Virginia State Health Commissioner, Norman Oliver, strongly recommending the House hold sessions virtually “to the greatest extent possible.

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