It's primary election day in Virginia
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
In Virginia, today is the final day of voting in what has been a very expensive primary season.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Republicans took control of the House of Delegates and the governor's mansion two years ago. The competition is expected to be intense in the general election this fall. But first, both parties are dealing with brand-new legislative maps.
MARTÍNEZ: Following all of this is Margaret Barthel of member station WAMU. Margaret, tell us all about this primary.
MARGARET BARTHEL, BYLINE: Yeah, A, the big story here is that Virginia's latest redistricting process really shook things up politically. It drew quite a few older incumbents into the same districts, which prompted retirements. And we're talking people with a lot of power who've been shaping this body for a while. Both Senate majority and minority leaders, for instance, are retiring after this year. Redistricting also created some entirely new districts. And it emboldened quite a few primary challengers to go up against some of the remaining incumbents.
MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, so depending on how races go today, it sounds like it could be a very different-looking legislature after November.
BARTHEL: Yeah, exactly. If incumbents struggle to hold onto their seats, that could mean still more turnover. People in the Democratic Party in Northern Virginia are especially concerned about loss of experience and influence among the regional delegation. And some voters are, too, like Marsha Marinich (ph).
MARSHA MARINICH: If we lived in a safer country right now where, you know, people were not leaning towards ideologies and so forth, I might vote for a less experienced person. But right now, I'm looking at experience.
BARTHEL: But the challengers still have a shot. Their campaigns have a lot of money. Some of them have spent nearly $1 million already. And they're making the case for a younger, more diverse, more progressive vision of the Democratic Party.
MARTÍNEZ: Now, Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin's victory in 2021, I think, surprised some because it seemed like the state was trending blue. What GOP priorities has he been able to get done while taking office?
BARTHEL: Yeah, he's definitely had some key wins, probably one of the biggest is a big tax cut that he got through in the budget deal last year. But because Democrats have control of the state Senate, they've been able to block a lot of the stuff on Youngkin's agenda - think things like a 15-week abortion ban and school choice legislation. And so for someone who's kind of flirting with presidential ambitions, like Youngkin is, not getting those cultural conservative wins is a bit of a problem.
MARTÍNEZ: All right. How about the races today on the Republican side?
BARTHEL: Yeah, there are a few more competitive contests that pit these kind of establishment Republicans versus further-right challengers. Youngkin has tended to support more establishment candidates when he has endorsed. And more broadly, he's got a lot riding on who ultimately wins control of the General Assembly in November, of course. And his political action committee is really gearing up for that. Earlier this spring, they announced they had nearly $3 million in the bank, which is record-setting.
MARTÍNEZ: Margaret Barthel is of WAMU. Margaret, thanks for checking in.
BARTHEL: My pleasure, A.
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