Sabato: Beating GOP, keeping Democratic control of Va. legislature top of mind for voters

Sabato: Beating GOP, keeping Democratic control of Va. legislature top of mind for voters

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - It is usually kitchen table issues like the economy on the minds of voters at the ballot box, but University of Virginia’s Center for Politics director says that’s not true this time around.

Beating Republicans and keeping the Democratic legislature, Larry Sabato says that’s what’s on the minds of Democrats heading to the polls.

Conventional thought says it is all about the economy when elections roll around, but Sabato says not for primaries.

“This is a party primary. While they argue about the things you’d expect them to argue about, they agree on about 90% of everything,” he said.

One issue that is on the minds of Democratic voters: racial justice. June marks one year since nightly protests across the country over the killing of George Floyd at the hands of police. At the Democratic gubernatorial debate on Tuesday, Terry McAuliffe faced attacks over the issue.

“Terry McAuliffe, not all Black people are convicted felons. We are more than restoration of rights,” former delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy said.

called out members of his own party. He said Democrats often champion minority rights but are potentially missing out on the chance to do so now. With three Black candidates in the race polling suggests the party will ultimately choose a white man, Terry McAuliffe, as the nominee.

“When African Americans are shut out of opportunities repeatedly it sends a signal to people about what our system truly values and who truly has the opportunity to succeed in our society,” Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax said.

Sabato says racial justice is important to Democrats, but the structure of the primary favored McAuliffe... with four other candidates running, support is split.

“It is absolutely amazing that all four of these candidates actually filed and did not make an agreement or an alliance with one or more of the other candidates that ‘OK, you run this year and I’ll run next.’ That used to be done regularly,” Sabato said.

While Sabato says McAuliffe will have the easiest time against Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin, he says whoever prevails on primary day is likely to win in November.

“Virginia is much for Democratic. They also have an advantage because contrary to what the Republicans told me and you and others in January, Donald Trump has not faded a bit in the six months since he left office,” Sabato said.

The primary is set for Tuesday, June 8.

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