It doesn’t have the same pomp and circumstance as the presidential inauguration, but the Virginia gubernatorial election is the next big political event on the docket. As one of only two states electing a governor in 2021 (New Jersey is the other), all eyes often turn to Virginia at the beginning of each presidential term for clues into what the political environment for the midterm elections could feel like.
This year is also the beginning of a huge cycle for governors elections. While just 11 states elected a governor in 2020, 36 states will elect a governor in 2022, including the biggest states in the country such as New York, California, Texas, Florida, and Pennsylvania. And with Congress consistently and evenly divided, control of the states is critical.
The Lay of the Land
Despite dominating the state’s politics at the turn of the century, Virginia Republicans are entering the 2021 gubernatorial election at their political weakest since the 1960s, when the state was a brick in the Democratic Solid South.
Democrats currently hold all five statewide elected offices, both houses of the state Legislature, a majority of the state’s Congressional delegation, and just won the state’s 13 Electoral College votes. The last time all that was true was in 1964.
Republicans have not won a statewide race in the last decade. That’s a far cry from when Virginia was supposed to be a launching pad for future presidents George Allen and Bob McDonnell.
Democrats’ victories in…