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2018 Virginia midterm elections: Candidates, issues, and voter registration information guide

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RICHMOND, Va – As the old saying in politics goes, the most important election of our lives is the next one.  If you’re the kind of person who subscribes to what some call a cliche, then you no doubt know midterm elections are November 6.

It is a day that genuinely carries great importance for national politics, as the balance of power in Congress during the next two years of President Trump’s term is up for grabs. For politicos and average voters alike, CBS 6 has compiled information you need to know on Election Day and broke down some key races for voters in Central Virginia.

At stake on election day, the balance of power in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. 

Traditionally, the party of the president tends to suffer loses during the midterm Congressional elections. That is why political analysts say, in broad terms, this election is about whether voters approve or disapprove of President Trump.

In 2010, a wave of Republican enthusiasm following President Obama’s first two years in office swept dozens of Tea Party candidates into office.

Democrats hope a similar “blue wave,” which has its roots in Virginia’s 2017 elections, will help them regain a majority in the U.S. House and potentially the U.S. Senate. Election forecasters, however, think the latter is much less likely.

Wary of what that scenario would mean for President Trump and his agenda, Republicans are pouring millions of dollars into competitive races across the country, including several in Virginia.

There are 5,624,332 registered voters in Virginia as of September 30.  A Gallup poll conducted in September found that voter enthusiasm as a whole was “significantly higher” than the prior six midterm elections, with 55 percent of voters telling pollsters they were “more enthusiastic” about voting than usual.

In Virginia, Senator Tim Kaine (D) faces Republican challenger Corey Stewart and Libertarian candidate Matt Waters in the sole statewide race for one of two Virginia Senate seats.  Political analysts predict Sen. Kaine’s seat is likely safe, despite the “vicious” campaign Stewart has run.  Sen. Kaine has a $19 million fundraising edge over Stewart and is the only candidate in the race to run television ads statewide, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP).

Tim Kaine and Corey Stewart

Tim Kaine and Corey Stewart

Of Virginia’s 11 Congressional seats, eight incumbents face challengers from the other major party, two Republican-held seats are up for grabs after the sitting Congressman stepped aside, and only 3rd District Congressman Bobby Scott is running uncontested.  Three Virginia House races are being closely watched by national pundits as seats that could potentially signal a shift in power in favor of Democrats.

In Central Virginia, Congressman Dave Brat (R) and challenger Abigail Spanberger (D) are locked in battle for the 7th District that some publications have labeled a “toss up,” although traditionally Republicans have the advantage in the district because of the number of rural voters who usually favor GOP candidates.

Libertarian Joe Walton is also on the ballot in the 7th District.  To date, nearly $6 million have been spent on TV ads by both campaigns and outside groups, according to VPAP.

Below, you find links to each campaign's website and voting trends for each district.

Voter registration for this election has closed, but you can check your voter status at vote.virginia.gov.

SO WHERE DO I VOTE ON ELECTION DAY AND WHAT DO I NEED?

If you are registered to vote and have not moved since the last election, your polling place has most likely not changed.  However, if you have moved within Virginia or need a refresher, the Virginia Department of Elections allows you to check your voting record online.  FOLLOW THIS LINK TO CHECK!

You'll be asked to enter some identifying information, but after that, you'll go to a page that shows your currently listed address, your polling location, and a list of what voting districts you are registered in.  Ballots will look different at different polling locations depending on your Congressional district and the local races in your area (Board of Supervisors, School Board, etc.).

Every voter in Virginia will vote in one U.S. Senate race and on two ballot questions (more on this later).

Polls in Virginia are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day.  You are required to bring and show a photo ID to poll workers when you cast a ballot, per Virginia law.  The Department of Elections lists the following acceptable forms of identification:

  • Virginia driver's license
  • Virginia DMV-issued photo ID
  • U.S. passport
  • Employer issued photo ID
  • Virginia Voter Photo ID card (these are FREE at local voter registration office)
  • Other U.S. or Virginia government-issued ID
  • Student ID from a Virginia school, college, or university
  • Tribal enrollment or other tribal photo ID

There are handicap accessible voting systems at every polling location, and those with a physical disability can request curbside assistance.

If you cannot make it your polling place on November 6, you can request an absentee ballot or vote in person at your voter registration office.  In person voting ends November 3.  The deadline to request an absentee ballot is 5 p.m. on October 30.  Mailed absentee ballots must be received by your voter registration office by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

You can check out your rights as a voter, what to expect at your polling place, and how to properly mark a ballot with this "voter pocket guide" produced by the Virginia Department of Elections.

WHAT ARE THOSE QUESTIONS ON THE BALLOT ALL ABOUT?

You have a chance to change Virginia's Constitution!  Two ballot questions will be included on Election Day.

  1. Should a county, city, or town be authorized to provide a partial tax exemption for real property that is subject to recurrent flooding, if flooding resiliency improvements have been made on the property?
  2. Shall the real property tax exemption for a primary residence that is currently provided to the surviving spouses of veterans who had a one hundred percent service-connected, permanent, and total disability be amended to allow the surviving spouse to move to a different primary residence and still claim the exemption?

A "yes" on Question 1 would give localities the ability to give property owners a partial real estate tax exemption if they live in flood prone areas and have made improvements to address the flooding.  A "no" would not allow the exemption.

Question 2 is a little more complex, but a "yes" would allow the surviving spouse of a 100 percent disabled veteran to move to a new place of residence they own and claim a tax exemption.  A "no" vote would not allow the exemption.

You can read more in depth about these questions and their impact here.

THE RACES AND THE CANDIDATES

Listed in the order you will see them on your ballot, per Virginia Department of Elections.  Party affiliation in parenthesis.

U.S. Senate (only statewide race)

Sen. Kaine won the seat in 2012, defeating George Allen 53 percent to 47 percent.  Governor Ralph Northam won by nine percentage points in 2017, and Hillary Clinton carried Virginia in 2016.  Virginia Republicans have not won a statewide election at any level of government since former Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2009.

A majority of polls show that Kaine is leading Stewart, with most of the margins in the the double digits.

According to VPAP, Sen. Kaine has raised $21.7 million, Chairman Stewart has raised $2.3 million, and Waters has raised $53,161.

U.S. House

Listed below are the localities included in the district.  Some counties are split between districts, and those will be listed in multiple races.  You can check your voter record to find out which one you will vote in.

1st District (portions in Central Virginia)

Localities: Caroline, Essex, Fauquier, Fredericksburg City, Gloucester, Hanover, James City County, King and Queen, King George, King William, Lancaster, Matthews, Middlesex, New Kent, Northumberland, Prince William, Richmond County, Spotsylvania, Stafford, Westmoreland

Rep. Wittman has held the seat since 2007.  The 1st District has voted in favor of Republicans in statewide races every year since 2012, and federally ordered redistricting in 2016 made it lean even more Republican, according to VPAP.  Redistricting moved counties like Hanover and New Kent into the district and shifted areas closer to Williamsburg and Newport News to a different district.

Rep. Wittman has raised $1.3 million, and Vangie Willaims has raised $353, 857, according to VPAP.

2nd District

  • Scott W. Taylor (incumbent) (R)
  • Elaine G. Luria (D)

Localities: Portions of Virginia Beach, Newport News, Hampton, and the Eastern Shore

Some analysts see this district as a place where Democrats can pull an upset; however, a recent Christopher Newport University poll showed Rep. Taylor with a seven point lead over Luria.  Both campaigns have raised over $3 million, VPAP reports.

The race may be most well known for the petition scandal where Taylor's staffers allegedly collected signatures for an independent candidate in an effort to split Luria voters.

3rd District

  • Robert C. "Bobby" Scott (incumbent) (D)

Localities: Portions of Chesapeake, Newport News, Suffolk, etc.

No one is challenging Rep. Scott, who has served in Congress since 1993 and represented the 3rd District since 2008.

4th District (Portions in Central Virginia)

Localities: Charles City, Chesapeake City, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights City, Dinwiddie, Emporia, Greensville, Henrico, Hopewell City, Petersburg City, Prince George, Richmond City, Southampton, Suffolk City, Surry, Sussex

The 4th District has voted in favor of Democrats in every statewide election since 2016.  Federal redistricting that year shifted the district by 24 points in favor of Democrats, according to VPAP.  Rep. McEachin won the seat in 2016 and was the first Democrat to do show since 2000.

Rep. McEachin has raised $785,600, McAdams raised $140,856, and Wells raised $201.  McAdams, a pastor in Williamsburg, is hoping a stump visit from Vice President Mike Pence will bolster Republican enthusiasm in the district.

5th District

Localities: Includes Charlottesville, Farmville, South Boston, Danville.  Covers large portion of Virginia; tretches from NC line north Warrenton

The 5th District seat is open after Rep. Tom Garrett announced he would not seek re-election, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family and get help with alcoholism.  Claims of ethics violations have since surfaced against Rep. Garrett.

6th District

Localities: Covers large portion of western Virginia from Roanoke to Woodstock

Rep. Bob Goodlatte is retiring from Congress.  The 6th District is usually a Republican stronghold when judging by statewide results.  Cline has raised more than $1.1 million while Lewis has raised $331,450.

7th District (Portions in Central Virginia)

Localities: Amelia, Chesterfield, Culpeper, Goochland, Henrico, Louisa, Nottoway, Orange, Powhatan, Spotsylvania

Rep. Brat won the seat in 2014 after defeating then House Majority leader Eric Cantor in the primary.  The 7th District has favored Republican candidates in statewide elections for several years, but margins have tightened recently especially after redistricting in 2016, VPAP reports.

Rep. Brat and Spanberger have flooded the local airwaves with ads, and outside groups supporting both have spent millions on spots attacking their opponent.  The outside money spent on this race shows both national Republicans and Democrats feel the race is tighter than usual 7th District contests.

“The district leans and tilts on the Republican side, that should be good for Dave Brat.  On the other hand, Abigail Spanberger is probably the perfect Democratic candidate for this district.  If anyone could possibly win it, it might be her," said CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth.

President Trump sent his endorsement of Rep. Brat via Twitter.

In early October, President Obama announced his endorsement of Spanberger.

Spanberger has raised nearly $5 million, Rep. Brat has raised $2.3 million, and Walton has raised $6,532.

WATCH IN FULL: The only 7th District debate

8th District

Localities: Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church

Rep. Beyer has held the seat since 2014, and the district leans heavily in favor of Democrats.  Rep. Beyer has raised $1.9 million, and Oh has raised $45, 975.

9th District

Localities: All of southwest Virginia, including Blacksburg, Marion, and Bristol

Rep. Griffith has held the heavily Republican district seat since 2010.  Rep Griffith has raised a little more than $1 million, while Flaccavento has raised $819,485.

10th District

Localities: Clarke, Fairfax, Frederick, Loudoun, Manassas City, Manassas Park City, Prince William, Winchester City

Rep. Comstock has held the seat since 2014; however, Democratic candidates have performed exceptional well in the district since then, and President Trump lost the district by ten percentage points in 2016.  Millions of dollars have poured in the race pitting the sitting Congresswoman against Wexton, the well funded, current state Senator in the area.

Rep. Comstock has raised $5.1 million, and Wexton has raised $4.5 million, VPAP reports.

11th District

Localities: Fairfax City, Fairfax, Prince William

Rep. Connolly has held the seat since 2008, and the district has favored Democrats for many years.

Rep. Connolly has raised nearly $3.5 million, Dove has raised $520,064, and Porter has raised $5,079.

THERE ARE LOCAL CONTESTS TOO

We've included the local races in Central Virginia that are contested.  Other races will be on the ballot, but in many cases, there are the exact same number of candidates running as the number of members of the governing body or office.

Chesterfield County

Commonwealth's Attorney Special Election (Vote for one)

  • John F. Childrey
  • K. Scott Miles

Emporia City

City Council District 1

  • Carolyn S. Carey
  • Clifton Threat

City Coucil District 7

  • Yolanda G. Hines
  • Mark W. Mitchell

Goochland County

School Board Special Election

  • Karen R. Horn
  • Vernon C. Fleming

Henrico County

Board of Supervisors Brookland District Special Election

  • Dan Schmitt
  • Danny Plaugher

Hopewell City

City Council Ward 1

  • Deborah Randolph
  • Christina J. Luman-Bailey

City Council Ward 3

  • Brandon P. Butterworth
  • Johnny B. Partin Jr.
  • A. J. "Tony" Zevgolis

City Council Ward 7

  • Jackie M. Shornak
  • Patience A. Bennett

Petersburg City

City Council Third Ward

  • Samuel Parham
  • George W. Friday

City Council Fifth Ward

  • W Howard Myers
  • Beverley Coleman

Richmond City

School Board District 7 Special Election

  • Cheryl L. Burke
  • Gary S. Broderick
  • Bryce L. Robertson

Election Day is November 6!

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