It’s not just McAuliffe vs. Youngkin. The fight is on for control of Virginia’s House.

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“Let’s win this thing, because it’s right there,” Askew told the group of roughly two dozen who gathered in the parking lot of a state Democratic Party office before splitting up to canvas nearby neighborhoods. “It’s within our grasp.”

Askew’s Republican challenger, Karen Greenhalgh, founded a custom cabinet manufacturing company and manages crisis pregnancy centers. She’s raised $430,000 during her campaign.

Four hours north of Virginia Beach, up in Loudoun County, Democratic state Del. Wendy Gooditis has the challenge of appeasing two different regions within her district: One side is rural and more conservative and the other is suburban and more progressive. She’s facing Nick Clemente, the Republican candidate who has brought in the most fundraising dollars at $936,000. He’s running on a platform focused on increasing funding for mental health services, keeping schools open in the pandemic and maintaining funding for law enforcement. Clemente stands with mainstream Republicans on social issues like opposing vaccine mandates and using taxpayer funds for abortion.

Despite those opposing geographic and political factions, Gooditis voted with the Democratic Party 99 percent of the time, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. She’s hoping to convince all voters within her district that Democrats have their best interests in mind, not just on local issues but ones capturing national attention, like the Covid-19 pandemic and protection of women’s reproductive rights.

In an interview, she referenced the “Don’t Texas my Virginia” slogan that’s spread in the wake of Texas passing the nation’s most restrictive abortion law. “That hits home with a lot of people,” she said. “My opponent is on the opposite side of that.”

Up and down the ballot, Democrats are framing this election as a choice between a progressive future and a regressive past if Republicans take over.

“There’s a question about who do you want to lead the state?’” Post said. “Republicans are not presenting a moderate vision for Virginia.”

Virginia is heavily influenced by the national political environment. Democrats are proudly linking themselves to the Biden administration, a strategy that could pose a risk as Congress struggles to pass central pieces of Biden’s agenda and the president’s approval rating has dropped by double digits since he carried Virginia by 10 points in the presidential election.

For those reasons, Tucker Martin, a GOP consultant who worked for former Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell, believes it will be hard for Democrats to overcome that environment by championing specific pieces of policies.

“This race is being driven by Joe Biden’s approval rating and Trump being out of the White House,” he said. “Those two meta-factors are the big movers.”



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