RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC/AP) — Today is Election Day. Voters will elect all 140 members of Virginia’s General Assembly.
The polls are open across the Commonwealth from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday.
What’s at stake?
A few key races will determine partisan control of the state Senate, which Republicans currently control by a 21-to-19 margin. Republicans are all but certain to regain control of the House of Delegates, where they currently have a super majority.
Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe has invested heavily in trying to secure control of the Senate for his party. A Senate controlled by Democrats won’t mean that the governor will be able to pass top legislative priorities like expanding Medicaid or tightening gun laws through the General Assembly, but it will give McAuliffe more leverage when negotiating items like the state budget with GOP lawmakers.
Republicans, meanwhile, are looking to strengthen their grip on power in the General Assembly by increasing their majority in both the Senate and House.
Both parties are looking for electoral success ahead of next year’s presidential contest, in which swing-state Virginia is expected to play a key role. McAuliffe, in particular, has touted his large investment in trying to fortify the Democratic Party’s data-driven voter identification and get-out-the-vote efforts.
What have been key issues?
Off-year elections with no statewide candidates on the ballot, such as Tuesday’s election, have historically had low turnouts. Consequently, both parties have tried to tailor their messages to appeal to their respective bases.
For Democrats, they’ve attacked Republicans as being unfriendly to women’s health issues, and irresponsibly rigid on gun control.
Republicans have accused McAuliffe of supporting unreasonably high tolls and blasted other Democrats as being unfriendly toward Virginia’s coal industry.
Who is funding the campaigns?
Virginia has no limits on campaign donations, and much of current election cycle has been funded by rich out-of-state individuals and large corporations.
Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s gun control group has announced spending $2.2 million to help two Democratic candidates in competitive Senate races. And large donors to the governor’s political action committee or the Democratic Party of Virginia include a Democratic mega donor from New York and one of McAuliffe’s law school friends from Florida.
Republicans have been helped largely by the Republican State Leadership Committee, a national GOP group largely funded by corporate interests. Its recent large donors have included Wal-Mart, General Motors and tobacco giant Reynolds American.
In state, several of Virginia’s most powerful corporations and special interests continued to be major campaign donors. They include associations representing dentists, auto dealers and beer wholesalers, as well as energy company Dominion Resources Inc.
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