New Jersey governor’s race too close to call

November 3, 2021
Glenn Youngkin and his wife Suzanne watch results come in on election night at the Westfields Marriott Washington Dulles on Tuesday in Chantilly, Virginia. Youngkin defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe to become Virginia's next governor.
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Corrections and clarifications: A previous version of this story misidentified Michelle Wu’s background.

Glenn Youngkin won the race to become Virginia’s next governor on Tuesday.

Youngkin, 54, defeated Democrat Terry McAuliffe even as the leaders of McAuliffe’s party made a heavy push to help him over the finish line in a race that polls showed was tightening ahead of Election Day.

Youngkin never campaigned directly with his party’s top surrogate, former President Donald Trump, but had Trump’s support in a race that was closely watched for hints about what it might portend for the 2022 midterm elections.

Like Trump, Youngkin came to politics from the business world. He worked in private equity before campaigning for governor.

Youngkin defeats McAuliffe:Glenn Youngkin defeats Terry McAuliffe for Virginia governor, dealing Democrats a setback

In New Jersey, Republican Jack Ciattarelli held a slight lead over incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, but the race was too close to call. 

The gubernatorial contests were two of a number of races across the U.S. that will help set the stage for the 2022 midterm elections.

Meanwhile, history was made in local races across the U.S. Michelle Wu became the first elected female mayor of Boston and Democrat Eric Adams was elected New York’s second Black mayor, while Alvin Bragg became Manhattan’s first Black district attorney.

Tuesday’s results will be dissected for any inkling of what they can tell us about 2022, when Republicans will try to retake control of Congress from the slim Democratic majority.

Democrats have an eight-seat advantage in the House and control the split Senate. All 435 seats in the House will be up for election in 2022 along with 34 seats in the Senate.

Long night in New Jersey: Governor’s race is too close to call

The New Jersey gubernatorial candidates addressed supporters in the wee hours of Wednesday without knowing who might win their shockingly close contest.

Democratic incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy and Republican Jack Ciattarelli are separated by just a few thousand votes.

“We’re gonna wait for every vote to be counted, and that’s how our democracy works,” said Murphy, who once enjoyed huge poll leads but found himself locked in a dead heat with Ciattarelli.

Ciattarelli, a former New Jersey General Assembly member and once a huge underdog to Murphy, told his supporters he is eager to declare victory, but couldn’t yet do so.

“We want every legal vote counted,” he said.

– David Jackson

Glenn Youngkin declares victory and ‘a new day’ in Virginia

An excited Glenn Youngkin claimed the governor’s office in Virginia by telling supporters he would pursue a transformation of the state’s economy and school system.

“We can build a new day,” Youngkin told screaming supporters at a hotel in northern Virginia early Wednesday mornin

Youngkin, a decided underdog at the start of the campaign, overtook Democrat Terry McAuliffe by stressing education – especially the teaching of race and history – and the economy.

“Together, we will change the trajectory of this Commonwealth,” Youngkin said in his victory speech.

Because the race was not called until early Wednesday, Youngkin did not address his supporters until after 1 a.m.

Semi-apologizing, Youngkin joked: “Breakfast will be served shortly.”

– David Jackson

Voters elect Democrat Ed Gainey first Black mayor of Pittsburgh

Democratic state Rep. Ed Gainey became the first Black mayor of Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

A five-term member of the Pennsylvania state House, Gainey was heavily favored to win against Republican opponent Tony Moreno. He led in the polls by 71% compared to 29% for Moreno, according to The New York Times.

Gainey was inspired to run after the protests following the death of George Floyd, the Minneapolis man who died in police custody in May 2020, according to The Hill.

– Chelsey Cox

Michelle Wu wins Boston mayoral race 

Michelle Wu, 36, won a hotly contested mayoral race in Boston after fellow council member and Democrat Annissa Essaibi George conceded Tuesday. Wu gained 56% of votes compared to 43% for George.

Wu is a Harvard Law graduate who served on the council since 2014. She is the first woman and first woman of color elected mayor of the commonwealth capital, breaking a streak of white male city leaders.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, along with Rep. Ayanna Pressley, all from Massachusetts, campaigned with Wu, along with acting Boston Mayor Kim Janey. Janey, a Black woman, was appointed after previously elected mayor Marty Walsh stepped down to become secretary of Labor under President Joe Biden.

 – Chelsey Cox

Republican Ciattarelli leading in New Jersey governor’s race

With a little more than 60% of the vote counted, Republican Jack Ciattarelli leads incumbent Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy by a little more than 3 percentage points in the race for New Jersey governor.

There are many votes outstanding, and the well-funded Murphy enjoyed a healthy lead in preelection polls – but he has trailed most of the night.

Ciattarelli is a former member of the New Jersey General Assembly.

– David Jackson 

McAuliffe says there are still votes to count in Virginia governor’s race 

Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe declined to concede the Virginia governor’s race to Republican Glenn Youngkin, telling supporters late Tuesday there are still “votes to count.”

Absentee ballots and Democratic areas remained uncounted as McAuliffe spoke with supporters. “The fight continues,” he said.

McAuliffe trailed Youngkin by more than 5 percentage points with more than 87% of the votes counted.

“We’ve still got a lot of votes to count,” McAuliffe said. “We’ve got about 18% of the vote out, so we’re going to continue to count the votes because every single Virginian deserves to have their vote counted.”

– David Jackson 

Push to disband Minneapolis police fails despite calls for reform after George Floyd death

A push to disband the Minneapolis police department failed Tuesday for the second time since George Floyd’s death sparked nationwide calls for police reform.

Minneapolis residents voted not to replace the city’s police department – which is facing a federal investigation – with a new Department of Public Safety that would have likely included law enforcement, 911 responders and mental health professionals. 

Minneapolis:Push to disband Minneapolis police fails despite calls for reform after George Floyd death

The proposal would have amended the city’s charter to remove the requirement that the city have a police department with a minimum level of funding and staffing.

– N’dea Yancey-Bragg

Republican Mike Carey wins Ohio House seat

Republican Mike Carey, a coal lobbyist, won the House seat in Ohio’s 15th Congressional District, according to the Associated Press

Carey defeated Democrat Allison Russo, who was endorsed by President Joe Biden, in the Republican-leaning district. The election was held to replace former Rep. Steve Stivers, a Republican, who resigned his seat for a role in the private sector.

– Sean Rossman

New Jersey governor’s race is surprisingly close

With a little more than 34% of the vote counted in the New Jersey governor’s race, Republican Jack Ciattarelli has a slight lead over Democratic incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy.

There’s a long way to go, and the well-funded Murphy enjoyed a healthy lead in pre-election polls.

But Ciattarelli, a former member of the New Jersey General Assembly, is already doing better than expected.

– David Jackson 

Alvin Bragg elected Manhattan’s first Black district attorney

Democrat Alvin Bragg was elected Tuesday as Manhattan’s first Black district attorney, a position that will give him oversight of prosecutions and ongoing investigations involving former President Donald Trump.

Bragg, a civil rights lawyer and former federal prosecutor, defeated Republican Thomas Kenniff to join a growing wave of progressive, reform-minded prosecutors across the country.

He will take over in January from the current district attorney, Cyrus Vance Jr., who is retiring after a final term in which he prosecuted Harvey Weinstein for rape and brought tax evasion charges against the Trump Organization and its longtime finance chief, Allen Weisselberg.

– Michael R. Sisak, Associated Press

Democrat Eric Adams elected New York City mayor, defeats longshot Curtis Sliwa

Eric Adams, the former police captain who campaigned on a message of public safety, was elected New York City mayor Tuesday.

Adams will become New York’s second Black mayor and inherit a city at a pivotal time in economic recovery from the pandemic.

Adams, a Democrat, defeated longshot Republican candidate Curtis Sliwa after he narrowly won his party’s nomination in June during a crowded Democratic primary.

The Brooklyn borough president and former state senator will replace the term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio in January.

– Ryan Miller

Virginia: Youngkin leads big, but outstanding votes remain to be counted

With 54% of the vote counted, Republican Glenn Youngkin enjoyed a double-digit lead over Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia governor’s race  – but the Associated Press and the networks held off on projecting a winner because many Democratic areas have yet to report.

“Virginia governor’s race too early to call,” CNN said shortly after 8:30 p.m.

Virginia has also to count absentee and mail-in votes, and those could well favor McAuliffe.

The Democratic candidate did sound a note of resignation in an e-mail thanking supporters.

“So when the results of this election come in — win or lose — we can rest assured that we did everything we can to create the future that we want,” McAuliffe said.

– David Jackson

McAuliffe’s chances could come down to outstanding mail ballots

In the Virginia governor’s race, whether Democrat Terry McAuliffe can overcome Republican Glenn Youngkin’s early lead could depend on how many mail-in votes remain uncounted versus votes cast on Election Day.

Democratic voters accounted for 53% of mail-in votes in the race, compared to 31% for Republicans, according to Target Smart, a Democratic elections data firm. Historically, mail-in votes are often the last counted.

It was this trend that led Joe Biden, who dominated mail voting, to overcome Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

McAuliffe, trailing Youngin by about 10 percentage points, needs a surge – but the same dynamics might not be in play for him.

Several Virginia counties appear to have already posted early-voting results. A state law required counties to begin processing their mail-in ballots at least a week before Tuesday’s election, allowing election officials to get results out sooner. In addition, a new state law passed this year required counties to release early voting and mail-in votes separately from Election Day figures to smooth the process.

If the margin narrows, the outcome could be in doubt for several days. A Virginia state law also allows mail votes to be counted three days later if they are postmarked by Election Day.

– Joey Garrison

McAuliffe sends thank you note to backers – ‘win or lose’

Democrat Terry McAuliffe sought to buck up supporters Tuesday with an e-mailed note of encouragement – one that also mentioned the possibility of a loss.

“So when the results of this election come in — win or lose — we can rest assured that we did everything we can to create the future that we want,” the note said.

McAuliffe said he wanted to personally thank his supporters. “No matter what happens tonight,” his note said, “I am blown away by what this grassroots team has been able to accomplish.”

– David Jackson

Education a mobilizing factor for Virginia voters

Voters across Virginia told USA TODAY that education, specifically Critical Race Theory, was one of the key reasons they cast a ballot in the commonwealth’s pivotal gubernatorial race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin.

Youngkin has leaned into parent’s anger over education during the race. His campaign and supporters criticized McAuliffe for comments he made during a gubernatorial debate on Sept. 29.  “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” McAuliffe said.

Critical Race Theory is a legal framework that examines how systemic racism continues to permeate U.S. law and society. Virginia public schools do not currently teach Critical Race Theory in K-12 levels.

GOP voter Walter Foreman, 23, said he supports Youngkin’s plan to ban Critical Race Theory.  “This election is about parents rising up and demanding what’s best for their kids,” said Foreman, who voted in Manassas.

Retirees Bob and Judy Allen support Youngkin because they want parents to be able to object to curriculum that involves Critical Race Theory. “If my kids were to be educated right now, I wouldn’t put them in Fairfax County schools. I would probably homeschool them,” Judy Allen said.

McAuliffe called the battle over Critical Race Theory a “racist dog whistle.”

Retired public schoolteacher Mary Wagner, switched from supporting the Republican party to volunteering for Democrats because of the education issue.

“I taught in the public schools for 39 years, and education is extremely important to me,” said Wagner. “If anybody is a good governor for this state for education, it would be Terry McAuliffe.” 

– Mabinty Quarshie, USA TODAY; Jay Shakur, Julia Mueller, Jeannie Michele Kopstein, Medill News Service

Shontel Brown wins election for Ohio House seat

Democrat Shontel Brown defeated Republican challenger Laverne Gore for a Cleveland-area House seat, according to the Associated Press. Brown will succeed former Rep. Marcia Fudge, who left her seat to become President Joe Biden’s secretary for Housing and Urban Development.

– Sean Rossman

Abortion, COVID vaccine mandates on voters’ minds in Fairfax

Abortion rights and the COVID-19 vaccine mandate were on some voters’ minds as they arrived to cast their ballots at polling centers in Fairfax, Virginia.

Ellen Gbane, 59, an economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics and resident of Centreville, said that though she opposes abortion personally, due to her religious affiliations, she is pro-abortion rights when it comes to her politics.

“Politicians should not be imposing their moral beliefs on other people. Women should have the right to choose,” Gbane said. She voted for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe.

Alexis Frogs, 40, a librarian who voted at Fairfax County Government Center, said McAuliffe’s position on abortion was a deciding factor for her vote.

McAuliffe has supported women’s reproductive rights throughout his campaign. In contrast, Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, has described himself as pro-life, only supporting abortion in certain instances of rape, incest or a medical emergency threatening the mother’s life.

Frogs also criticized Youngkin’s campaign and his method of promoting his policies. “I feel like it was a lot of fear mongering as opposed to just telling [us] what he wants to do,” she said. 

Frogs said that she supported a federal vaccine mandate as COVID-19 still posed a threat and transmission rates were still high amongst the unvaccinated. She said that if Republicans were really anti-abortion rights, they should take the repercussions of not getting vaccinated even more seriously. “If we want to give back to life, it only makes sense that everyone gets vaccinated. We live in a society with other people, and you can’t always do what you want to do. You have to compromise,” Frogs said.

AJ Tahbaz, 43, a resident of Centreville, said that though he was pro-vaccination, he was still on the fence about federal mandates. “I feel bad about people losing their jobs just because it goes against something that they feel strongly about. Maybe [the government] needs to do a better job of educating and informing people before imposing such mandates,” Tahbaz said. “I wish everyone could come to that conclusion on their own and get vaccinated, so we wouldn’t have to impose these rules.”

– Zoya Mirza

Virginia officials: People in line by 7 will be able to vote

Virginia’s Department of Elections said voters in line by 7 p.m. ET will be given the chance to vote Tuesday evening.

Polls closed at 7 p.m. in the state where voters are deciding who will be Virginia’s next governor: Republican Glenn Youngkin or Democrat Terry McAuliffe. The candidates have been in a neck-and-neck race leading up to Election Day.

National picture looms over Youngkin-McAuliffe race

National politics may have played a big part in drawing some voters in Centreville out to the Virginia gubernatorial election. 

“I’m kind of looking at the whole picture in terms of the country, not only in Virginia,” said Bradley Clark, an occupational therapist from Fairfax, as his toddler ran in circles around the entrance to the polling place at Centre Ridge Elementary School in Fairfax County. 

Clark wants his votes to help “ensure that the state continues staying Democratic” but also wants Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe to push for progressive policies on the national level. Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, on the other hand, is “more of a pro-Trump kind of candidate.”

“I really think that’s the wrong direction for Virginia, but also for the country as a whole.” 

But these voters disagree about which direction Virginia and the country should be led in.

Larry Parthum, an Air Force analyst from Centreville, trusts Youngkin to advocate and legislate against abortion – and said he thinks that McAuliffe is “a substitute for Hilary Clinton,” given McAuliffe’s longstanding political relationship with the Clintons and other prominent Democrats.

– Julia Mueller

Virginia governor’s race ‘litmus test’ for national elections, voters say

Voters outside the Dorothy Hart Community Center in Fredericksburg said they cast their votes Tuesday in hopes that the outcome of the gubernatorial election would have ripple effects across the nation.

Andrew Brunson, a 25-year-old line cook and student at Carnegie Mellon University, said he voted for Democrat Terry McAuliffe in a tight race that he thinks will be a “litmus test” for future elections.

“I’ve been proud of the progress Virginia has made in the past four years, and (Glenn) Youngkin is very much a symptom of the hyper-right Trumpism radicalism taking over the country,” Brunson said. “We’ve got to hold our ground.”

Jimmy Whitman, a 47-year-old custom homebuilder, who canvased with his wife Tuesday afternoon for Republican Glenn Youngkin, said he thinks a Youngkin victory would encourage voters to favor more moderate conservatives in national elections.

McAuliffe vs. Youngkin:How this suburban school board became the hottest issue in the Virginia governor’s race

“We hope it sets a tone for the rest of the country that if moderates can win Virginia, we can do well throughout the country,” he said.

Barbra Anderson, a 55-year-old teacher at King George High School, who voted with her mother and son, said she favors bipartisanship but voted for McAuliffe to give Democrats the best footing in the midterm elections.

“If the Democrats lose Virginia, the Democrats will lose 2022,” Anderson said. “Unfortunately, we have Terry McAuliffe, who I think is a weak candidate.”

– Hannah Schoenbaum and Isabel Miller

Virginia poised to elect first woman of color to statewide office

Virginia voters will elect the first woman of color to statewide office on Tuesday when they cast their ballots in the race for lieutenant governor.

Democrat Hala Ayala is competing against Republican Winsome Sears to become one of the nation’s four Black female lieutenant governors. No state has ever elected a Black woman to its highest office. Polls closed at 7 p.m. ET in Virginia.

“I think folks are excited about the history but they’re more excited to put a proven leader and someone who has actually been able to get things done in that position,” said Keauna Gregory, political director of Black to the Future Action Fund.

Read more about the race:Hala Ayala vs. Winsome Sears: Virginia’s next lieutenant governor will make history

– Chelsey Cox and Mabinty Quarshie

Education on the ballot in Leesburg

Education is on the ballot for both Democrat and Republican voters in Leesburg on Tuesday. 

Parents like James Freire, 41, say COVID lockdowns have restricted parents’ access to school buildings, creating a lack of accountability over teachers and school board officials. 

“We actually pulled our kids out of the schools because of some of the horrible things that have been going on,” said Freire, who voted voted for Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin. “The parents need to be allowed back in the buildings,” Freire said.

Education has become a pivotal issue for voters in the Virginia governor’s race between Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe, highlighting a philosophical divide over what it means to be parents looking out for their kids’ best interests. 

“I am raising a child who is on the autism spectrum,” said Sheryl Nelson, 58. Nelson considers herself an Independent, but says she voted for McAuliffe on Tuesday. 

 “I just feel like a lot of marginalized people in this country have not been treated fairly, and I want to make sure that our elected officials hear the voices of people who are more moderate,” Nelson said.

– Andrew Marquardt and Jonathan Lehrfeld

Education on voters’ minds in Manassas

With about three hours left before polls close, voters outside their polling place at Jennie Dean Elementary School in Manassas have education on their minds, though for different reasons.

GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has leaned into education and anger over Critical Race Theory.

“The existing institutions have failed America’s students,” said GOP voter Walter Foreman, 23. “This election is about parents rising up and demanding what’s best for their kids.”

Foreman said he agreed with Youngkin’s plan to ban Critical Race Theory in Virginia schools.

In their final campaign pitches ahead of Tuesday’s election, both Youngkin and Democrat Terry McAuliffe made education a part of their closing arguments.

Independent voter Charles Mayfield, 42, said he was swayed by McAuliffe’s promise to support teachers.

“I want someone committed to teachers, he has promised to do that, Youngkin hasn’t,” Mayfield said.

– Jay Shakur

Education animates Youngkin voters in Northern Virginia

Bob and Judy Allen, ​retirees who have lived in Northern Virginia ​for 33 years, said they voted for Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin on Tuesday, mostly because “he’s not Terry McAuliffe, he’s not a Democrat,” Judy said.

Having put their kids through Virginia public schools, the Allens ​said they ​feel passionately​ about Youngkin’s stance on parents’ involvement in their children’s education. 

Specifically, they want parents to be able to object to curriculum that involves ​Critical ​Race ​T​heory. 

“If my kids were to be educated right now, I wouldn’t put them in Fairfax County schools. I would probably homeschool them,” Judy Allen said. “Teachers now are putting a political spin on everything and that’s not their place.”

Bob ​said he thinks the “only good thing” about the pandemic is that “parents found out exactly what their kids were learning and being taught.”

– Jeannie Michele Kopstein

‘He’s like a mini-Trump’: Fairfax voters on Youngkin

FAIRFAX, Va. — First-time voter Vivienne Branson and her mother, Claire, a public schoolteacher from Fairfax, cast their votes for the Democratic ticket at Fairfax Government Center.

If Republicans take hold of the governorship, the Bransons would want to leave their home state of Virginia.

“He’s like a mini-Trump,” Vivienne said of GOP gubernatorial nominee Glen Youngkin. “I’m not doing that again.” Her mother, too, is “terrified of the prospect of having someone else like Trump in power” in Virginia.

“As a mother with daughters,” Claire said, “it’s important for me that they maintain their right to choose their reproductive path.” And for her children, she also wants to “follow the progressive agenda” toward renewable resources and climate change action. 

These issues keep getting pushed aside, Claire said, and they’re not “anything I’ve ever heard anyone who’s conservative mention.” 

The Bransons acknowledged that Youngkin has promised to support teachers and families, but Claire called this messaging “off-putting” and the “pandering” of a “tiny Trump.” 

Claire worries that Youngkin is too detached to take care of his constituents. “I don’t think that someone who is a millionaire from Great Falls knows what the average working person goes through. I don’t think he would look out for us.”

— Julia Mueller

Fredericksburg elections officials request additional ballots to accommodate high voter turnout

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia – Elections officials at Hugh Mercer Elementary School are preparing to request a third stack of additional ballots from the General Registrar’s Office after voter turnout exceeded their expectations.

Chief Election Officer Scott Vezina, 39, said he has seen a steady stream of voters all day, averaging 128 people per hour. His polling location was allotted 800 ballots Tuesday morning, which he deemed “a major underestimate.”

Vezina called the General Registrar’s Office at 8:30 a.m. to request 200 additional ballots and called again at 11:30 a.m. for 500 more. He said he will likely place a third request in the late afternoon, to account for an anticipated rush of commuters returning home from work.

“One of the electoral board members came here to see how things were going, and when I told her our numbers, they were like, ‘holy crap, you guys are just killing it,’” Vezina said. “And I was like, yeah, we’re pretty busy today. I’m surprised.”

Vezina projects his precinct will log upwards of 1,700 votes by the time polls close at 7 p.m.

Fredericksburg’s 101st Precinct has more registered voters than any other precinct in the city, according to the registrar’s office, but volunteer Kenneth Gantt, 61, said he was surprised to see similar voter turnout to what he observed in the 2020 presidential election.

The Army veteran, who has volunteered at the polls in Fredericksburg for the last three election cycles, said voters in his community are typically elderly and tend to favor Republicans, like gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin.

“The folks who really care about the issues, they always come out to vote,” Gantt said. “Where the influx comes is folks who have a real interest in some of the key issues of the governor’s race – the economy and our schools and the children.”

— Hannah Schoenbaum

Abortion challenges in spotlight

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia – Recent challenges to abortion access at the Supreme Court have placed women’s rights at center stage in the Virginia gubernatorial race, according to voters at Hugh Mercer Elementary School.

Sarah Morealli, a faculty member at the University of Maryland, said that climate change and women’s rights were the most prominent issues for her during this election cycle.

Morealli, a registered Democrat, said that although she found it unlikely that a Texas-style law would be implemented in Virginia, it is an issue of high concern, especially given the controversial Texas abortion legislation.

The Texas law prohibits abortion after cardiac activity is detected in a fetus, which usually occurs around six weeks – a period before some women know they are pregnant. The law does not make exceptions for rape or incest.

“While I don’t think it’s likely that it will happen in Virginia, it is something I am concerned about and would like to make sure doesn’t happen in Virginia,” Morealli said.

While Democrat Terry McAuliffe has vowed to uphold access to abortion in the state, Republican Glenn Youngkin opposes abortion except in instances of rape, incest or to save the life of the pregnant individual.

Youngkin told liberal activists posing as anti-abortion advocates at a July gathering that if elected, “we can start going on offense.”

— Catherine Buchaniec 

Learn more:Some Supreme Court justices skeptical of Texas abortion law, impact on other rights

Potential game-changing issues to watch in different states

There’s no Presidential race or Senate seats up for grabs, but the 2021 election has a number of issues across the country that could have potentially important policy implications.

Here are some of themes to watch for Tuesday’s voting:

1. Police Reform

According to Ballotpedia, voters in Albany, New York; Austin, Bellingham, Washington; Denver, Minneapolis, and Cleveland will decide police policy measures. Perhaps most notable is in Minneapolis where voters will decide whether to erase their police department from the Minneapolis charter and create a new Department of Public Safety focused on mental health, civilian wellbeing and social services. 

The vote comes more than a year after the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer and continued frustration over a lack of progress in department reform. 

Read the rest here:These are potential game-changing issues to watch this Election Day in different states

— Nina Mandell

‘We’re going to win in Virginia,’: Biden predicts McAuliffe will prevail over Youngkin

President Joe Biden on Tuesday predicted Democrat Terry McAuliffe will defeat Republican GlenYoungkin in the high-stakes Virginia’s governor’s race and rejected the notion that the close contest is a rebuke of his presidency.

“We’re going to win,” Biden said when asked about the election during a press conference in Glasgow, where he concluded his participation at the United Nations’ COP26 climate summit. “I think we’re going to win Virginia.”

Polling for weeks has shown Youngkin gaining momentum in a state Biden carried by 10 percentage points in the 2020 election as Biden’s approval rating has slipped in Virginia and nationally. Biden campaigned for McAuliffe in Arlington, Va. last week.

“We all knew from the beginning this could be a tight race,” Biden said, downplaying the impact his presidency and inability to pass his domestic spending agenda has played. “Even if we had passed my agenda, I wouldn’t claim we won because Biden’s agenda’s passed.”

He added: “I think it’s I think it’s going to be very close. I think it’s going to get down to, as you all know, turnout.”

— Joey Garrison

In Fairfax, education and a worry about Trump

FAIRFAX, Va. — Mary Wagner, a retired public schoolteacher from Fairfax, was raised Republican — but today she’s handing out sample ballots at the Democratic booth outside the Fairfax Government Center, “hoping and praying” that Terry McAuliffe (D) will win out over Glenn Youngkin (R) in the state’s gubernatorial race.

“I taught in the public schools for 39 years, and education is extremely important to me,” said Wagner on what pushed her away from the Republican party. “If anybody is a good governor for this state for education, it would be Terry McAuliffe.” 

Youngkin, on the other hand, “would like to take money and give it to the private schools, and make charter schools. And McAuliffe knows better than that.”

Wagner is also wary of Youngkin’s affiliation with former President Donald Trump, and stories she’s heard of Youngkin promising to let Trump have a hand in governing Virginia. 

“That’s just awful. I want no part of the Republican party like that,” Wagner said. “No part of it.”

— Julia Mueller

More:In 2022 midterms, a new ‘Big Lie’ battleground: secretary of state elections

Fredericksburg voters focused on education 

FREDERICKSBURG, Virginia — For some voters outside of Hugh Mercer Elementary School on Election Day, which gubernatorial hopeful gets their vote comes down to education.

Caryn Vezina, 38, voted for Republican Glenn Youngkin. She said she likes his education politics and wants Virginia to go in another direction. 

Vezina said Youngkin appeals to her experience as a mother and a preschool teacher.

“It didn’t make me happy that McAuliffe said that, you know, parents shouldn’t be involved with their children’s education,” Vezina said. 

Vezina was referencing a statement Democrat Terry McAuliffe made in a gubernatorial debate on Sept. 29: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

Lawyer Shana Gertner, 42, cast her vote for the Democrat. She said she cares about access to education and wants to keep the state blue.  

“My child is in private school, but I do care about public school and I do feel as though a lot of parents don’t really grasp the issues,” Gertner said.

— Isabel Miller

Stafford voters disagree on role of Trump and Biden

STAFFORD, Va. — On a rainy Tuesday at H.H. Poole Middle School, voters expressed opposing sentiments on how views toward President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will affect today’s elections.

Kayla Thrasher, a 23-year-old student and assistant manager at Weis Markets, is a Democrat who describes herself as “very liberal.” She equated voting for Glenn Youngkin with voting for Trump.

“I’m not completely happy with how Biden is running the country right now, but I’m definitely 100% against Trump, so I’m kind of just voting against him,” Thrasher said, explaining her vote for former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe.

However, some Republican voters criticized the role that Trump and Biden have played in local elections.

“The role that that’s playing in the [political] game right now is actually, I think, getting a little old,” said Michelle Merritt, a Republican, 38, who works as a realtor. 

Merritt pointed to the McAuliffe ads that target those who oppose Trump, saying they wrongfully assume an association between local and presidential elections. 

“I don’t think people are coming out today to vote for one [candidate] or the other because of the hatred of another candidate,” Merritt said. “I think they’re voting on their own opinion and making their own opinion based on just that candidate, not the hatred or the love of another candidate.”

— Courtney Degen

More:7 things: What campaign ’21 says about campaign ’22 (including Biden, Trump and Black voters)

Worries about wages

Voters who identified as Democrats and Republicans said they were concerned about wages — an issue that both Terry McAuliffe and Glenn Youngkin have said they would address if elected. 

Debbie Johnson, 56, voted for Youngkin after the candidate promised to increase pay for teachers. As Johnson’s daughter is a teacher, she said she feels strongly about the issue. 

“I think teachers need to get paid more. I think increasing standards is important in schools,” she said.

Danny Lopez, 51, voted for McAuliffe as a result of the Democrats’ stance on paid family leave. “[It] is something that I’m kind of most interested in. I want him to win,” Lopez said.”

Another voter, Alex Fleche, 39, tied the issue of wages back to the pandemic and said, “I want to see the middle class built back up and people being able to have an opportunity to have a living wage.”

Fleche said he is a “Democratic supporter across the board,” and remains optimistic about the outcome of today’s election. 

— Allison Novelo and Annie Klingenberg

Related:Brad Raffensperger, GOP target of Trump ire in Georgia, warns of potential for more election violence

Richmond voters focus on schools, critical race theory

RICHMOND, Virginia – Education dominated concerns among voters outside the Richmond Public Library’s main branch in Henrico County. 

“I think if teachers were to be fully respected — as politicians all say they should be — then they are in charge of children’s health and well-being and curriculum,” said Patti Wright, 69, of Richmond. “I am a little worried about that with this election.” 

Wright, a retired schoolteacher, said she hopes people “will vote respectfully.”

Parental concerns over closures, mask mandates and so-called bias against white people in school curriculums pushed education issues to center stage in the gubernatorial race.

In their final campaign rallies ahead of Tuesday’s election, both Terry McAuliffe and Glen Youngkin discussed education. 

McAuliffe on Sunday called for greater teacher diversity across the commonwealth. “We’ve got to diversify our teacher base here in Virginia,” the Democrat said at a rally in Charlottesville. He also promised to create a program to attract teachers of color, should he win the election.

Youngkin on Monday reaffirmed that he will “ban critical race theory in our schools,” despite an absence of material covering how racism operates in U.S. laws and society in the state’s K-12 curriculum. 

“What we won’t do is teach our children to view everything through a lens of race, where we divide them into buckets and one group is an oppressor and the other is a victim and we pit them against each other and we steal their dreams,” Youngkin said to a crowd of several thousand in Loudoun County. 

Youngkin’s line of thinking mirrrored a concern of 22-year-old Virginia Commonwealth University medical student Douglas Hogan when casting his vote. 

“Specifically, not teaching critical race theory, things like that, in our schools,” Hogan said. “Teaching kids to think for themselves, not based on their race.” 

For Whitney Tidwell, 33, of Richmond, the election gave her an opportunity for a different kind of education: to teach her young son about the electoral process. 

“We’ve been talking about voting and choosing who represents our community, the values, so to show him that process and to talk to him about how we vote for people that we want to represent our community,” said Tidwell, who is Black.

– Cristobella Durrette, Medill

Education, COVID are top of mind in Loudoun County

LOUDOUN COUNTY, Virginia – “We gave raises to the teachers for the first time in more than a decade,” said Wendy Gooditis outside the Ida Lee Park Recreation Center in Leesburg.

Gooditis, a Democrat, is up for reelection as the delegate for the 10th District of the Virginia House.

Education has been a hot button topic among Virginia voters. Gooditis, a former teacher, said she and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Terry McAuliffe are “committed to doing more for teachers.” 

Outside the polling center in Leesburg on a drizzly Tuesday morning, Gooditis greeted voters after they cast their ballots and thanked poll workers. 

This was one of a host of stops throughout her district, where she said she plans on discussing education and COVID-19 misinformation with constituents.

“(If) some percent of the population is being told stuff that just isn’t true, that’s not a referendum on the policy. It’s basically a referendum on who’s believing the lies, because there’s so many lies out there,” Gooditis said.

– Andrew Marquardt and Jonathan Lehrfeld, Medill

Ohio special election tests presidential endorsements

Ohio’s 15th congressional district could be another litmus test for the endorsement of the two major political party leaders.

President Joe Biden jumped into the district’s special election with an eleventh-hour endorsement of Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo on Monday. Former President Donald Trump already had backed Republican Mike Carey, a coal lobbyist.

The two candidates are running in a district that favors the GOP to replace former Rep. Steve Stivers, a Republican who resigned to take a job in the private sector.

Carey also has gotten a boost from national Republican groups and a campaign visit from former Vice President Mike Pence, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

– Rick Rouan

Turnout high in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley

At one precinct in Augusta County, Virginia, chief election officer Lesley Piner said she had to ask the county for more ballots before lunchtime, having run out by 11 a.m.

Piner said the county only gave the precinct about 300 ballots for the day. They had surpassed that before noon.

“We’ve been very steady … more than I expected,” she said. 

About 50 people in the precinct opted to vote early and more than 300 out of a total of 1,000 registered voters had voted in the morning — a number that shocked Piner. 

“Normally, I would have thought we’d have 350 people for the entire day,” she said. “We’re going to surpass that, and it’s not even noon.”

Virginia’s polls close at 7 p.m.

– Laura Peters, Staunton News-Leader

Runoff likely in Atlanta mayoral race

ATLANTA — Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed is trying to return for a third term and City Council President Felicia Moore is seeking to move up to the top spot as voting concludes Tuesday in the city’s mayoral race.

Confronting rising crime has been a major focus, but candidates have also addressed concerns about affordable housing, bolstering struggling city services and keeping the wealthy Buckhead neighborhood from seceding. Attacks on Reed over corruption in his administration have been a major subplot, although Reed says the federal investigation regarding him was closed without charges.

With a total of 14 candidates in the nonpartisan race, a Nov. 30 runoff is likely. Other top candidates include attorney Sharon Gay and council members Andre Dickens and Antonio Brown, with large numbers of voters undecided.

Meanwhile, Republicans are watching for any mistakes in Atlanta that could justify a state takeover of elections in heavily Democratic Fulton County, under a sweeping new state law approved amid unproven claims of fraud by former President Donald Trump and his allies.

The race was jolted when Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced in May that she wouldn’t seek a second term. Bottoms broke a decades-long tradition of mayors serving eight years, saying she wasn’t interested in a reelection bid. The last Atlanta mayor who served only a single term was Sam Massell, who lost to Maynard Jackson in 1973 as African Americans took power in city government.

– Associated Press

Study: Voters with disabilities show ‘large gains’ in turnout

Voters with disabilities are enjoying a new era of political relevance this Election Day thanks to the COVID pandemic — both the reforms it spurred and the inequities it laid bare. 

People with disabilities showed “large gains” in 2020’s voter turnout, said Steve Flamisch of Rutgers University’s Program for Disability Research, referring to a report by the university and the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. 

Turnout rose to 17.7 million, up from 16 million in 2016, thanks to mail-in ballots and other initiatives, according to the group, which looked at national data.

– Gene Myers, NorthJersey.com

Democrat favored to win in New York mayor race

Eric Adams, a Democrat who is considered the frontrunner to win New York’s mayoral election, would be the second Black mayor in the city’s history if he is elected on Tuesday.

Adams is running against Republican Curtis Sliwa as the top elected official in America’s most populous city. Democrats outnumber Republicans in New York 7-to-1.

Adams is a former police captain and state senator. Sliwa founded a subway safety patrol group.

– Rick Rouan

Voting law changes tested in first election since 2020 presidential contest

Election Day is the first test for some of the hundreds of new voting laws adopted in the year since the 2020 election.

USA TODAY analyzed 254 new laws in 45 states passed since voters cast their ballots last year in the highest turnout election in American history. The analysis reveals changes, seen and unseen, to how we vote.

Those laws include changes to the number of days available for early voting and the hours available to cast ballots on Election Day.

Read more about the changes here.

Boston will elect a woman of color as mayor

In Boston, the contest between city council members Annissa Essaibi George and Michelle Wu means whomever wins will become the city’s first woman and first person of color elected mayor.

The candidates, both Democrats in a nonpartisan race, have chiefly clashed over issues such as affordable housing, public education and transportation. But differences on policing and crime have also emerged.

Wu, daughter of Taiwanese immigrants and a protégé of liberal Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, has called for major police reforms. Before she was a candidate, Wu joined other city council members in calling for a 10% cut to the police department’s budget.

Essaibi George, who describes herself as Polish-Arab American, has opposed reallocating the money and has called for hiring several hundred more police officers. She was endorsed by former Boston police Commissioner William Gross.

– Associated Press

Florida primary to narrow field for congressional seat

Voters in Florida’s 20th congressional district on Tuesday will narrow the wide field of primary candidates competing for the seat formerly held by Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings, who died in April.

Eleven Democrats, two Republicans and a handful of other candidates are running in the southern Florida district.

The special general election is scheduled for Jan. 11.

– Rick Rouan

Races to watch on Election Day

While the Virginia governor’s race has been getting much of the national attention in the runup to Election Day, some other elections also could tell us more about what to expect in the 2022 midterm election.

Tigher-than-expected races for New Jersey governor and Ohio’s 15th congressional district could drop some hints about which way the political weather vane is pointing in 2022. Democrats will be trying to cling to their slim majority in the House next year.

Check out more about the races to watch on Election Day.

Analysis:‘A new American fault line’: How new election laws will make it harder for 55 million to vote





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