RESTON, VA — The big 2016 elections have come and gone, but the upcoming Virginia governor primary on June 13 is just as important, or arguably more so, for Reston residents.
Virginia is only one of two states with elections this year, so the results will be one of the first voter responses to how the Trump administration is doing. The state usually leans red like its neighbors to the south, but has turned blue for presidential elections since 2008. This year, Virginia went blue for Hillary Clinton although Donald Trump won the presidency.
These changing voting tendencies have even more significance because Virginia law prohibits governors from serving consecutive terms. Because Gov. Terry McAuliffe cannot run, Lieutenant Gov. Ralph Northam is running against former Congressman and President Obama appointee Tom Perriello in the Democratic primary. A primary victory for Northam would be indicative of how voters feel about the McAuliffe administration.
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On the other hand, a Republican victory would likely give the party full control in Richmond, because the state legislature has a Republican majority. Former Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie, Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart and State Sen. Frank Wagner are vying for the Republican nomination. The state Senate does not have elections this year, but all House seats are up for election. Democrats would need to flip 17 seats to gain control of the House.
The most recent Quinnipiac poll shows Gillespie leading with 28 percent over Stewart (12 percent) and Wagner (7 percent). The Democratic race is tighter, with Perriello slightly edging Northam 25 – 20 percent. In a general election matchup, Gillespie loses to Perriello 46 – 33 percent and Northam 44 – 33 percent. But 51 percent said they were undecided for both Democratic and Republican primaries.
Already the race is becoming a platform to discuss the future of the Affordable Care Act. Perriello and Northam are out to prove their commitment to protecting the health care law. While Northam has touted his medical experience, Perriello released a campaign video crushing an ambulance to symbolize the effects of Republicans’ repeal bill.
Democrats are also campaigning on Medicaid expansion, which McAuliffe unsuccessfully tried to pass in the Republican-controlled General Assembly. But another Democratic governor would be just as powerless on this issue if Republicans keep the House majority.
Republicans try to appeal to people that feel the health care law has failed. The latest talking point is news of Aetna pulling out of Healthcare.gov plans in Virginia next year. A number of companies have said without guaranteed federal subsidies, the companies would have to raise rates or stop selling plans.
Of course candidates are also discussing a number of issues with more of a local focus. Here’s full list of governor and lieutenant candidates on the ballot and links to their campaign websites:
As Virginia voters learn more about candidates’ positions on the issues, they can make sure they are registered, or even begin voting now.
For voters that are not able to vote in person on the Primary Election Day, absentee voting is now open. This includes voters who are:
- Working and commute for 11 or more hours, between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. on June 13
- Physically unable to go to the polls because of an illness or disability
- Caregivers for disabled or ill family members
- First responders
To apply for an Virginia Department of Elections website and fill out an online form or deliver a paper application to your local voter registration office. See a full list of eligibility for absentee voting online. You can find out more information from Fairfax County on absentee voting here., visit the
When the absentee voting application is approved, you will vote absentee in person or return a ballot by mail, fax or scanned copy by email to the local registrar. Here are some dates to remember for absentee voting:
- April 28-June 10: In-person absentee voting. You can vote in the Democratic primary or the Republican primary, but not both. Check with your locality for early voting locations and hours. Photo identification is required by Virginia law.
- June 6: Deadline for requesting an absentee ballot.
- June 13: Deadline for returning an absentee ballot.
Primary Election Day Voting
For all other voters, the deadline to register for Election Day is coming up on May 22. If you are not registered to vote, you can fill out an online application or take a copy to the local voter registration office. Applications can also be mailed to the Department of Elections at 1100 Bank Street Richmond, VA 23219. Once submitted, you should receive a response confirming your registration status.
You can find out where to vote on the Fairfax County website.
Here are the dates to remember for the primary:
- May 22: Voter registration deadline 11:59 p.m. online and 5 p.m. in person (or mail postmarked by that date).
- June 13: Primary election: 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Find your voting location online through the Virginia Department of Elections’ search tool. You can vote in the Democratic primary or the Republican primary, but not both. Photo identification is required by Virginia law.
Follow Patch in the coming weeks as we provide coverage on candidates’ positions on the issues leading up to the primary.
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