Virginia Holds Two Special Elections Tuesday To Fill Seats In House Of Delegates In Northern Virginia, voters are choosing a replacement for Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who announced in December that she would step down and devote her time to running for governor.
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Virginia Holds Two Special Elections Tuesday To Fill Seats In House Of Delegates

Candi King, a Democrat, and Heather Mitchell, a Republican, are vying for the Virginia House of Delegates seat once held by Jennifer Carroll Foy, who resigned to run for governor. Candi King for Delegate/Heather Mitchell for Virginia/Courtesy Photos hide caption

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Candi King for Delegate/Heather Mitchell for Virginia/Courtesy Photos

Virginia voters go to the polls Tuesday for two special elections that have drawn small turnout so far but whose outcomes could indicate the strength of the Democratic party's hold on the General Assembly.

In Northern Virginia, voters are choosing a replacement for Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William), who announced in December that she would step down and devote her time to running for governor.

Democratic candidate Candi King, a program assistant at the Gates Foundation, touts her long record working for Black lawmakers in the General Assembly. She interned with late Yvonne Miller, the first African American woman elected to serve in both houses of Virginia's General Assembly, and with state Sen. Lionel Spruill Sr. (D-Chesapeake). King, who is African American, has framed recovery from the COVID-19 recession through the lens of racial equity.

"The state needs to figure out how can it create space for small women- and minority-owned businesses to recover," King told supporters in a campaign video call.

King lives in Dumfries with her husband, a law enforcement officer, and their three children. She has been endorsed by the Virginia Professional Fire Fighters, labor unions, immigrant advocates, and abortion rights groups.

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Republican Heather Mitchell served as a senior aide to the former Prince William County Board Chair Corey Stewart, a Republican Trump supporter who left politics in 2019 after he lost to Gov. Ralph Northam in the gubernatorial election and Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine in a U.S. Senate race after that.

"I would love to be your voice so that we aren't ignored anymore, like our former delegate did," Mitchell said in a weekend address on Facebook.

Mitchell lives in Stafford County with her son and the younger of her two daughters. She is married to a U.S. Marine, and pledged she will "never support defunding or reallocating resources away from police."

She has been endorsed by the Virginia Citizens Defense League, the anti-abortion Virginia Society for Human Life, the sheriffs of Stafford and Prince William counties, and by Virginia's Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman. Local GOP county leaders are also supporting her campaign, including Supervisor Yesli Vega of Prince William County, who issued a Spanish-language exhortation to voters to pick Mitchell.

King's campaign announced that as of Monday, she had raised $125,000, roughly five times what Mitchell has taken in.

Early turnout has so far been low, a sharp contrast to the long lines that voters endured to cast early ballots for the November elections. Stafford County Registrar Anna Hash said 386 people voted in person, with another 32 ballots arriving via mail or drop-off. Keith Scarborough, secretary of the Prince William County Electoral Board, said fewer than 500 people voted early via any method.

"The short time frame and the holidays have impacted turnout. Special elections are also not at the typical election time so voters aren't expecting it," Hash wrote DCist/WAMU in an email.

Voters in southern Virginia will also pick a successor to Joe Lindsey (D-Norfolk), who resigned to become a judge. The Democratic candidate there, Angelia Williams Graves, has out-raised her Republican opponent Sylvia Bryant tenfold.

Even if Republicans were to win both seats, they would remain a minority in the House of Delegates, which Democrats took control of in 2019.

Political scientist Jatia Wrighten at Virginia Commonwealth University said she does not believe Republicans have a strong chance of flipping Carroll Foy's seat.

"Her district in Prince William County is pretty diverse, and what we've seen is that the more diverse your county the more likely it is to go to Democrats," Wrighten said.

Democratic leaders have flocked to support King's campaign, including Carroll Foy and several of her rivals for the party's nomination for governor, including state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and former gov. Terry McAuliffe.

On Monday, McAuliffe announced he had raised $6.1 million for his campaign ahead of the June Democratic primary. This record-shattering figure means that McAuliffe towers over a crowded field that grew larger last week as Del. Lee Carter, a Democratic socialist from Manassas, formally entered the race. Also last week, Princess Blanding announced she would run for governor with the new Liberation Party. Her brother was killed by Richmond police in 2018 while he was experiencing a mental health crisis.

So far the only GOP candidates are former House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) and state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), who has claimed that Virginia Democrats "hate white people."

Polling places are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day, and anyone in line by closing time will be allowed to vote, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

This story is from DCist.com, the local news website of WAMU.

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