Democratic primary race for Virginia lieutenant governor still completely up in the air

While strong name recognition has given former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe a boost in the race for governor, the race for lieutenant governor remains far less certain about one month ahead of Virginia’s Democratic primary election.

There are six Democrats in the lieutenant governor’s race, and voters do not appear to have a clear preference, according to the latest polling from Christopher Newport University.

“We saw 64% of voters saying they were undecided,” said the poll’s research director, Rebecca Bromley-Trujillo. “That’s a pretty huge chunk of those we surveyed not really knowing what they’re going to do.”

According to the poll, Del. Sam Rasoul leads the crowded field with just 12% of the vote, while none of the other five candidates tops 2%.

Making matters more complicated is the fact that Del. Elizabeth Guzman, who had been in second place with 4%, dropped out of the race but remains on the ballot.

The Democratic primary is set for June 8, though early voting has already started.

Republican candidates for statewide office are not running in a primary. They are being selected through a party convention on Saturday.

According to the poll, McAuliffe is far ahead of the other Democrats in Virginia’s race for governor, with 47% of the vote.

None of the other four candidates is in the double-digits.

“It’s just really challenging for candidates who aren’t known statewide to break through when you have a candidate like McAuliffe on the ticket,” said Bromley-Trujillo. “He is nationally known and has a very effective fundraising apparatus.”

McAuliffe, who was in the governor’s mansion from 2014 to 2018, is a well-connected longtime party insider and fundraiser. Like all Virginia governors, he was barred from seeking a consecutive term and contemplated, but ultimately decided against, a run for president in 2020.

The other statewide office included in the Democratic primary is the position of attorney general.

Incumbent Mark Herring, who is seeking a third term, has a strong lead over challenger Jay Jones 42% to 18%, according to the poll.

The results of the poll were based on 806 interviews of registered Virginia voters who are likely Democratic primary voters. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.9 percentage points.

More Virginia primary coverage

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Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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