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JMU Political Professor Previews Democratic Primary

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 6:00 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Tomorrow’s primary elections will determine the democratic nominees for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, and they feature some pretty crowded fields.

Five candidates are vying for the Governor’s nomination; State Senator Jennifer McClellan, Delegates Jennifer Carroll Foy and Lee Carter, Former Governor Terry McAuliffe, and Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax. However, political science experts like JMU’s Dr. Bob Roberts believe it’s not a question of if McAuliffe wins, but by how much.

“If he loses, then it’s gonna be a shock and we’re gonna wonder what happened.” said Roberts.

He adds that McAuliffe’s margin of victory is also important to his chances in the general election against Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin.

“If McAuliffe under performs and only wins by a small margin then he’s gonna face a problem, because the media and the pundits will say gee Terry, you spent all this money, your well known, you didn’t do that well, and that would weaken him in the race.”

The race for Lieutenant Governor is the biggest toss up of the three statewide primaries. The crowded field includes: Delegate Hala Ayala, Delegate Mark Levine, Norfolk City Council woman Andria McClellan, former Fairfax NAACP president Sean Perryman, Delegate Sam Rasoul, and former NFL agent and lobbyist Xavier Williams.

Rasoul leads the race in fundraising, but Roberts suspects either Ayala or McClellan will win the nomination.

“I suspect one of the female candidates will win the Lieutenant Governorship for the democratic party,” said Roberts. “We have a large number of women voting , that will be a major factor.”

The race for Attorney General is between incumbent Mark Herring and Delegate Jay Jones. Roberts says Herring’s success will be tied to McAuliffe’s.

“I suspect if McAuliffe wins with a substantial vote, Herring will also win, particularly in northern Virginia where Herring is very strong,” he said.

Roberts adds that although Virginia has become more blue over the last decade, general elections in November will be closer than people think. He says republicans could pull off upsets if there is low voter turnout.

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