Today is the “Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November,” and it is time again to cast our ballots.
In Virginia, we are voting to select members of the Virginia General Assembly—forty members of the Virginia Senate and one-hundred members of the Virginia House of Delegates. We are also choosing local officials to lead our boards of supervisors and school boards, to serve as sheriffs and commonwealth’s attorneys, and more. Some other states are having elections today too.
These races get a fraction of the attention we give to presidential races, or even congressional and gubernatorial races . . . but they are just as important, and maybe more so. Your day-to-day life is affected more by the actions of your local and state officials than those of the president. Do not ignore these races. Change starts at the “grass roots.”
If you are an eligible voter, go vote today.
But first, do your research. Read my endorsements, which explain why I voted the way I did. Read other commentaries. Read the candidates’ websites. Read opinion articles and editorials. Talk to your friends. Don’t pay attention to party lines and hyperbolic ads. Use your head and make your own choices.
The Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney race, more so than any other this year, warrants special attention. Incumbent Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj (D) is “the most dangerously incompetent public official by whom I have ever been represented.” It is critically important that she is not reelected. Read the “special statement” in my endorsement for more information.
Please also read the “special statement” before my endorsements in the Loudoun County School Board races, my special “attention” notes in my recommendations for the Ashburn and Leesburg districts on the same board, and special “attention” notes in my recommendations for the House of Delegates races in the 27th, 51st, and 57th districts.
I am a glutton for punishment, so I offer some predictions each year. This is especially difficult in these low-turnout “off-year” elections because there is little polling and outcomes can shift easily based on who bothers to show up and vote. This year is even less predictable than most because Virginia’s districts have all changed since the last election.
Regardless, here we go . . .
Virginia General Assembly
The Democratic Party currently holds a 22-18 majority in the Virginia Senate, and the Republican Party holds a 49-46 majority in the House of Delegates (there are 5 vacant seats). The governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general seats are currently held by Republicans. In the event of a tie in the Virginia Senate, the lieutenant governor serves as tiebreaker.
To maintain their majority in the Virginia Senate, Democrats would need to maintain at least 21 seats . . . so they can only lose one. To gain an effective majority, Republicans would have to gain two seats, resulting in a 20-20 tie with Virginia Lieutenant Governor Winsome Sears (R) serving as tiebreaker. Based on my “gut instincts” and how I read the “lay of the land,” I believe it is likely, but not guaranteed, that Republicans will gain an effective majority in the Virginia Senate
In the House of Delegates, there are no tiebreakers so an outright majority of votes is required to pass anything. There are currently 5 vacancies, but after the last election the house stood with a 52-48 majority for the Republicans. Using those numbers as our starting point, Republicans can only lose one seat. To gain a majority, Democrats would have to gain three. I believe it is very likely that the Republicans will maintain a majority in the Virginia House of Delegates.
So I think the most likely outcome is that the Republican Party takes control of the Virginia Senate and maintains control in the Virginia House of Delegates. With a Republican in the governor’s mansion, that means that the Republicans would have mostly uninhibited control of the state government.
Loudoun County Races
My “gut feeling” is that there will be a ground shift to the “right” on the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors and the Loudoun County School Board.
If that happens, it won’t be because the county’s population is actually shifting to the right. No; the electorate is still center-left. But there have been some incredible missteps and “unforced errors” by Democratic and Democratic-endorsed incumbents on those boards, and some extremely dishonest campaigning by Democratic candidates. That does not play well with the moderate suburban voters who might otherwise tend to in their favor.
I expect the Republicans to hold the local constitutional offices that they already have—Treasurer, Sheriff, Circuit Court Clerk, and Revenue Commissioner. I think they are likely to defeat Commonwealth’s Attorney Buta Biberaj (D), who has been an epic and unprecedented disaster and is unpopular even with local Democratic Party leaders . . . but it’s hard to know for sure.
Our stupid bond referendums always pass, so I expect them to pass again this year . . . probably with 65% or more of the vote. I expect the school bonds to perform worse than safety/parks and transportation; my wild guess is something like 68% for schools, 75% for safety/parks, and 80% for transportation.
As always, you can find live coverage of the election here on Off on a Tangent. I will be reporting results for the races I am following (those that appear on my ballot) and liveblogging about other notable races and the balance of power in the state legislature.
Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. ET and continues at least until all of the races I’m following are called, or 1:00 a.m., whichever comes first. Updates will continue as time permits until the results are certified.