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As Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” blasted through the ballroom, Terry McAuliffe, former and potentially future governor of Virginia, took the stage at the Hilton hotel in Tysons shortly before 9 p.m. on Tuesday (June 8) to celebrate his victory in the 2021 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

McAuliffe easily surged past four other candidates to clinch his party’s nomination, winning 62% of the vote in a race that the Associated Press called just 44 minutes after polls closed across the state.

Unofficial returns show that Fairfax County joined the rest of the Commonwealth in backing McAuliffe’s bid for a third term as governor. 64.4% of primary voters cast a ballot for him, followed by 19.3% supporting former delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy, who also came in second statewide.

“We launched this campaign about six months ago on a simple idea: that Virginia has some very big challenges ahead,” McAuliffe said in his victory speech. “And I’ve said we’ve got to go big, we gotta be bold, and we need seasoned leadership to move us forward and lift up all Virginians.”

Pledging to “build back a better, stronger Virginia,” McAuliffe quickly pivoted to the general election looming on Nov. 2, when he will compete with Republican nominee Glenn Youngkin, who he aligned with former President Donald Trump.

He will be joined on the Democratic ticket by Prince William Del. Hala Ayala, who will face Republican Winsome Sears in a lieutenant governor race that will put a woman of color in a statewide office for the first time in Virginia history.

The Virginia Department of Elections’ unofficial results show Ayala winning by more than 13 percentage points statewide in a race that featured six candidates, but her margin of victory was closer in Fairfax County. She only won by about 5% over runner-up Del. Sam Rasoul, who became the legislature’s first Muslim member in 2014.

Mark Herring won the Democratic nomination for attorney general in his attempt for a third term. He won by about 13% state-wide over Del. Jay Jones, but was overwhelmingly favored by Fairfax County voters. Herring won by more than 40 percentage points in the county.

In the General Assembly races, incumbent Del. Kathleen Murphy prevailed over challenger Jennifer Adeli in the contest for the 34th House District seat, which represents northern McLean and the Great Falls area.

“It was a great win and I am delighted to have received such strong support across the district,” Murphy said in a statement to Tysons Reporter. “I look forward to continuing to work on  behalf of my constituents and represent the issues that are important to them. I am especially focused on getting our kids safely back in school, increasing teacher pay, re-opening our businesses and continuing to support our veterans and stand up for gun safety measures.”

Republican Gary Pan is seeking to unseat Murphy in November, when Tysons area voters will also get contests between incumbent Del. Mark Keam and Republican challenger Kevin McGrath for the 35th District (Vienna), Del. Rip Sullivan (D) and Edward Monroe for the 48th District (McLean), and Del. Marcus Simon (D) and Sarah White for the 53rd District (Falls Church). Read More

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Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s campaign to return to the governor’s mansion will continue after he handily won today’s statewide Democratic primary.

Long viewed as the frontrunner for his party’s nomination based on polls and fundraising, McAuliffe validated that label by earning more than 60% of the votes cast — roughly three times as many votes as his nearest competitor, former Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who was seeking to become Virginia’s first Black, female governor.

According to unofficial returns from the Virginia Department of Elections, Carroll Foy received about 20% of the vote, followed in descending order by state Sen. Jennifer McClellan, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, and Del. Lee Carter, who also lost his seat representing the 50th House District.

McAuliffe will compete in November’s general election against businessman Glenn Youngkin, who won the Republican gubernatorial nomination in an “unassembled” convention in May.

The Democratic ticket will be completed by Del. Hala Ayala (D-51st District), who beat six other candidates to snag the lieutenant governor nomination, and Attorney General Mark Herring, who bested challenger Jay Jones as he seeks a third consecutive term in the position.

The Republican Party nominated former Del. Winsome Sears for lieutenant governor and Virginia Beach Del. Jason Miyares for attorney general.

In the General Assembly races, the 34th House District was the only one in the Tysons area with a primary. Incumbent Del. Kathleen Murphy defeated challenger Jennifer Adeli with 73% of the vote and will need to beat Republican Gary Pan to earn another term.

In its unofficial returns, the Fairfax County Office of Elections reported a voter turnout of 11.1%, a relatively low rate that’s not especially unusual for an off-year primary. The 2017 Democratic primary, the last year with a gubernatorial race on the ballot, saw a 13.4% turnout.

According to the county, 21,493 voters — 2.9% of the electorate — cast absentee ballots either by mail or in-person, while 60,999 people went to the polls on the day of the primary. In comparison, the 2017 Democratic primary saw just 7,105 absentee voters compared to 86,931 primary day voters.

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The Virginia Democratic Party is holding a primary tomorrow (Tuesday), and the ballot will feature some crowded races, including statewide contests for governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general.

The Republican Party chose to replace its primary this year with a convention in May to select statewide candidates. Some local races are also occurring in the state.

About 7,300 people in Fairfax County have voted early in person, and 50% of the vote-by-mail ballots requested by voters have been turned in so far, county spokesman Brian Worthy said in an email on Friday (June 4).

Here’s what to know:

Casting Your Ballot

Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. If you’re in line by 7 p.m., you will still be able to vote. You generally need an ID to vote, but alternative options are available, which includes signing a statement that says you are who you say you are. You can find your polling place online.

For absentee ballots, the deadline to hand deliver them is 7 p.m. Tuesday. They can be dropped off at polling sites, and other options are available. By mail, absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before June 8 and also received in the county elections office by noon on Friday (June 11).

Unofficial results will be posted on the county’s website on election night as well as the state elections’ website.

The Ballot

While the lieutenant governor race remains crowded, candidate Elizabeth Guzman withdrew from to focus on getting re-elected as a delegate for the 31st House District, which serves parts of Fauquier and Prince William counties. However, her name will still be on the ballot.

For the gubernatorial race, Virginia’s constitution bars governors from running for consecutive terms, preventing Gov. Ralph Northam from seeking re-election this year but opening the door for former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

The state elections board previously drew candidates’ names randomly for their order on the ballot. They’re listed below, and sample ballots are available online.

Governor

Lieutenant Governor

Attorney General

House of Delegates — 34th District (McLean)

The other three delegates who represent the Tysons area — Mark Keam (35th District), Marcus Simon (53rd District), and Rip Sullivan (48th District) — don’t have primary challengers.

Photo courtesy Town of Vienna

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When early voting began at the North County Government Center in Reston on Saturday (April 24), the crowd of electioneers assembled outside the building dwarfed the number of people casting their ballots inside the building.

The absence of lines contrasted sharply with the 2020 general election, when Fairfax County sometimes saw hour-long waits at early voting sites. This time, the biggest hold-up was the few extra seconds election volunteers needed to sort through 16 different ballots and match them with the right voters.

While not surprised by the relatively muted turnout for the first days of early voting for the June 8 Democratic primary, which started on April 23 at the Fairfax County Government Center before expanding to two satellite locations a day later, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn says it’s too soon to make any confident projections about what early voting will look like in the future.

“Going through a couple of election cycles, I think we need to do that before we can come to any long-term conclusions about how early voting is best done, how to staff it, what resources are necessary,” he said.

Even with a crowded gubernatorial contest on the ballot, the 2021 election cycle likely won’t match the high turnout for last year’s general election, which was buoyed by an especially heated presidential race, but there is already evidence that the Virginia’s new laws permanently expanding the accessibility of absentee voting are paying off.

According to the nonprofit Virginia Public Access Project, 63,508 voters have requested mail ballots, and 709 people have voted in person, as of April 24. In comparison, there were just 35,390 early voters in the 2017 primaries, the last time that Virginia had a governor’s race, and that includes 8,815 people who requested mail ballots but never returned them.

Fairfax County has gotten 11,222 mail ballot requests and 68 in-person voters. In 2017, 3,109 people voted early in person, and 1,919 people voted by mail.

Fairfax County Office of Elections spokesperson Brian Worthy attributes this uptick to recent legislative changes made by the Virginia General Assembly, particularly the introduction of no-excuse absentee voting that took effect last year.

“Since the last gubernatorial election, voting by mail has become easier in Virginia,” Worthy said. “Not only can any registered voter do so without needing a reason as was required in the past, but also the law now makes it easy to vote by mail permanently. As a result, the Office of Elections expects to see an increase in voting by mail over time as has happened in other states that have implemented similar laws.”

Legislators took further action to make early voting more accessible during a special session in March, including requiring localities to offer ballot drop-off boxes, permitting absentee voting on Sundays, and suspending witness signature requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, though those laws don’t take effect until July 1.

Early voting is also “way up” in Falls Church City compared to the last gubernatorial primary, according to Director of Elections and General Registrar David Bjerke.

Bjerke told Tysons Reporter on Friday (April 23) that the city had sent out 315 ballots so far, including 176 mail ballots and 139 email ballots to overseas voters, and three people showed up to vote in person that day. The 2017 primary saw just 240 early voters total, even though the Democratic and Republican parties both held elections that summer.

“It’s a huge increase,” Bjerke said. Read More

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Later this week, Fairfax County will kick off voting for its second pandemic primary, and the county officials running the election are applying a few lessons from the last year of early and mail-in voting.

Early voting for the Democratic primary is scheduled to start this Friday (April 23) and will be open to all voters registered in the county.

Voters in last year’s election faced long lines as they waited to turn in their ballots early, but Fairfax County General Registrar and Director of Elections Gary Scott, who is retiring from the position this year, said that scenario is unlikely in this year’s elections.

“What we’re doing is trying to incorporate some of the things we did observe,” Scott said. “There are lessons learned from the general election that don’t necessarily translate well to a primary election. We’re looking at a different electorate and a different level of turnout. But we’re opening more than one location early.”

Scott says that, in addition to the Fairfax County Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway), the county will open the North County Government Center (1801 Cameron Glen Drive) and the Mount Vernon Government Center (2511 Parkers Lane) for early voting on Saturday, April 24.

For the last week of the primary, the county will open an additional 13 early voting sites starting on May 29. Sites in the Tysons area include the Providence Community Center, the McLean Governmental Center, and Tysons-Pimmit and Thomas Jefferson libraries.

“For the last week, we will have a total of 16 locations where people will vote,” Scott said. “And we’ve extended hours from 4:30 p.m. to, now, 7 p.m. We wanted to extend further after working hours.”

Scott says it can be difficult to estimate how many voters there will be.

The last gubernatorial primary in 2017 had a 13% turnout, but that year had both a Republican and Democrat primary. This year, it’s Democrat-only, but Scott says his office is still preparing for a 40% turnout, even if that is viewed as extremely unlikely.

“Ordering paper ballots is relatively cheap after a certain point, and I’d rather have 10,000 ballots too many than 10,000 ballots too few,” he said.

Those voting in person should not submit an application to receive a ballot by mail, though anyone who requests a mail ballot can still surrender it when they check in if they decide to vote in-person instead.

“If you submit an application, you’re going to be sent a ballot by mail, and you’d have to return that ballot to back it out in order to vote in person,” Scott explained.

There will be drop boxes around the county after Gov. Ralph Northam signed a bill into law on March 31 making permanent a measure that was adopted temporarily last year. Drop boxes will be available at all early voting sites and polling places for those who want to drop off their ballot, according to Scott.

The deadline to register to vote in Fairfax County is May 19 — 22 days prior to the election. The Democratic primary is scheduled for June 8. Virginia is an open-primary state, so the primary is open to all voters.

“There are no Republican races in Fairfax County, so if you’re showing up to vote for republican candidates…there aren’t any,” Scott said. “For top of ticket, they chose convention, and some House of Delegates races had only one qualified candidate for primary.”

In addition to the statewide governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general races, voters in six districts have House of Delegates races on the primary ballot:

“We would encourage people, before they go out to vote, to review sample ballots we will have posted on our website,” Scott said. “So, if they go to vote, they’re prepared, because not everyone in the county is going to see the same ballot.”

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Super Tuesday” is in March — but Fairfax County is reminding voters about absentee voting and seeking election officers now.

Absentee voting for the 2020 presidential primary starts later this week on Friday, Jan. 17.

The deadline to register to vote in the March 3 primary is Feb. 10. People can check their voter eligibility on the Virginia State Board of Elections website.

Last week, the county announced that it needs 2,100 election officers for the primary.

The Office of Elections especially is looking for bilingual officers who speak Korean or Vietnamese for the Falls Church area, along with Annadel and Centreville, according to the county.

Election officers help set up voting equipment, check photo IDs and tabulate poll results. Compensation starts at $175 or people can choose to volunteer their time.

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The Weekly Planner is a roundup of interesting events coming up over the next week in the Tysons area.

We’ve scoured the web for events of note in Tysons, Vienna, Merrifield, McLean and Falls Church. Know of any we’ve missed? Tell us!

Wednesday (June 19)

  • Kiki’s Delivery Service at Angelika Film Center7 p.m. at Angelika Film Center (2911 District Avenue) — As part of their Studio Ghibli summer festival, Angelika Film Center will be screening Kiki’s Delivery Service — the anime classic about a young witch striking out on her own — on Wednesday at 7 p.m. and Thursday at 11 a.m. Tickets are $14.50.

 Thursday (June 20)

  • The Boro Summer Kick Off — 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at The Boro — Boro Tysons is hosting a summer kick off event with food trucks, music, lawn games and “puppy therapy.”
  • Summer Reading Party 7-8 p.m. at Bards Alley (110 Church Street NW) — The Bards Alley bookstore in Vienna is hosting a summer book party with finger foods and lemonade available. Booksellers will be in attendance sharing their favorite summer reads.
  • Vienna Stories Book Talk — 7:30 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center (120 Cherry Street SE) — Marie Kisner, a former public information officer for the Town of Vienna, collected newspaper stories about Vienna into a new book called “Vienna Stories 1950-2000.” Kisner is also planning a book signing at the Freeman Store on Saturday, June 22, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Friday (June 21)

  • Echosmith at Tysons Corner Center 3:30-9:30 p.m. at Tysons Corner Center (1961 Chain Bridge Road) — HOT 99.5 and Tysons Corner Center are hosting a free concert with the band Echosmith. The show is scheduled to start for 6:30 p.m. but attendees are encouraged early to grab a seat.

Saturday (June 22)

  • Daylily Walking Tour 10:15-11:15 a.m. at Meadowlark Botanical Gardens (9750 Meadowlark Gardens Court) — The Northern Virginia Daylily Society President Janice Kennedy will lead a walking tour through the gardens showing the daylily collection including a few award-winning varieties. The tour is free and those participating in the tour will have free admission.
  • Georgia Peach Truck — 12 p.m. at Merrifield Garden Center (8132 Lee Highway) — The Georgia Peach Truck is planning to roll into Merrifield at noon on Saturday with beaches brought up from Georgia available to be purchased by the box. One 23-25 pound box is $45.

Sunday (June 23)

  • Providence Democrats Unity and Summer Solstice Celebration — 4-7 p.m. at Nouvelle Apartments (7911 Westpark Drive) — Following a crowded Democratic primary that saw Dalia Palchik voted as the Democratic nominee for the vacant Providence District Board of Supervisors seat, Providence District Democrats are hosting a buffet and silent auction fundraiser with the nominees and the other candidates. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP early.

Photo via Meadowlark Botanical Gardens/Facebook

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School Board member Dalia Palchik and Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay won their Democratic primary races yesterday, marking the end to an expensive, crowded and contentious primary.

Palchik won the nomination for the Providence District seat on the Board of Supervisors, defeating four challengers and pulling ahead of Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner by nearly 1,500 votes.

Meanwhile, McKay beat three challengers to clinch the Democratic nomination for the county board’s chair.

Frank Anderson, the executive director of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee, told Tysons Reporter that he was surprised by how many Democratic candidates flooded the Board of Supervisors races, although the large fundraising sums weren’t unexpected.

“I was surprised by how many candidates decided to jump in,” Anderson said, adding that a race like the one for Providence District supervisor typically has two to three candidates instead of five.

With crowded races, some of the candidates’ clashing resulted in an “acrimonious” primary, Anderson said, adding, “It’s expected to be.”

The race for the board’s chair was particularly divisive — McKay faced an ethics complaint filed by a rival, while the Washington Post endorsement raised concerns about sexism.

On the Democratic Party’s end, Anderson said that the debates “got awkward,” yet the staff focused on staying “as non-partial as we can” and professional.

The primary also turned out to be expensive for several candidates.

Niedzielski-Eichner and Palchik both neared the $100,000 fundraising mark in the race for the Democratic nomination.

Every candidate for the Democratic nomination to the chair position raised over $100,000, with developer Tim Chapman raising $952,109.

Anderson said that the high fundraising amounts serve several purposes. Beyond paying for resources like campaign staff, recorded calls, glossy mailers and advertising, they also help to give the impression that a candidate has the backing of more supporters.

“When you donate to a candidate, you do it because you believe in them,” Anderson said. “You can’t know whether your dollar made the difference.”

Anderson said that potential donors can become enticed to give money if they see how much others have donated — essentially equating money with value.

Some candidates in the race received sizable checks, either from donations to themselves or from a few key supporters, like developer Tim Chapman who raised most of his $952,109 by donating to himself in the chair race and Hunter Mill candidate Maggie Parker, who received support from Comstock Companies, her employer.

“Not many voters have the time to see who is donating to the candidates,” Anderson said.

Read More

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(Updated at 10:05 p.m.) School Board member Dalia Palchik won the Democratic nomination for the Providence District seat on the Board of Supervisors.

Shortly after 9 p.m., Palchik defeated Fairfax County Planning Commissioner Phillip Niedzielski-Eichner and three other challengers in the Democratic primary.

Palchik received 39.7 percent of the vote. She will face Republican Paul Bolon in the November election.

Palchik said in her victory speech:

This is part of a movement; a movement of people who want new leadership. People who want classrooms — not trailers — and teachers who can afford to live here. They want someone who is going to fight to protect the environment, to get solar panels, who are going to work hard every day to get us out of our cars and walking, biking, getting around, with access to buses and metro, and into a community that cares and is inclusive. This is the beginning. It’s been an incredible campaign. It was scary. It was fun. We cried. We laughed. And we want to see the next phase of Providence District in Fairfax County.

Palchik celebrated her win at Settle Down Easy (2822 Fallfax Drive), a local brewery that launched in 2018. It was a trendy spot that is representative of a candidate who pulled together a coalition across a variety of demographics.

Even at the headquarters of Niedzielski-Eichner, the runner-up in the race with 23.4 percent of the vote, there was a reluctant admission that Palchik was a charismatic candidate. Several Niedzielski-Eichner supporters noted that they saw her at polls shaking hands and taking selfies with voters.

Del. Mark Keam (D-35th) said Niedzielski-Eichner relied on an older local establishment, while Palchik was able to tap into a younger, wider base of local supporters.

Linda Smyth, the current Providence District supervisor, announced in December that she wouldn’t run for reelection this year, along with several other supervisors on the 10-member board.

Shortly before 10 p.m., current Lee District Supervisor Jeff McKay won the Democratic nomination for the Board of Supervisors’ chair with 42 percent of the vote. McKay beat Georgetown law professor Alicia Plerhoples, who received 31 percent of the vote, and two other Democratic challengers.

For the Virginia State Senate, incumbent Barbara Favola won with 61 percent of the vote, beating Nicole Merlene for the 31st District seat, which encompasses McLean.

Incumbent Dick Saslaw narrowly beat challengers Yasmine Taeb and Karen Torrent for the 35th District seat. Saslaw received 48 percent of the vote.

In a close race, challenger Steve Descano beat incumbent Raymond Morrogh for the Democratic nomination for the commonwealth’s attorney position in Fairfax.

Catherine Moran and Vernon Miles worked on this story.

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Half of the day has gone by for voting in the Democratic primaries.

For Tysons-area residents, upcoming retirements have the Hunter Mill District, Providence District and chairman seats open on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

The voter turnout so far in the Providence District is slightly above 4 percent, while the Hunter Mill District is  4.6 percent — both higher than the county’s district average of roughly 3.4 percent, the county tweeted at 1:02 p.m.

Voting kicked off quietly around Tysons this morning.

“A lot of people vote absentee,” John Shivnen, the chief election officer at the Providence Committee Meeting Room polling place, told Tysons Reporter. By 10:51 a.m., 36 people had voted there (7921 Jones Branch Drive).

While Shivnen said the county is expecting a higher turnout than in previous years, he expected the day to stay slow, except during lunchtime and early evening after people get off of work.

The Democratic candidates for the Board of Supervisors are:

Board of Supervisors chair:

Providence District:

Hunter Mill District:

Tysons-area voters will also determine the Democratic nominees for two Virginia Senate seats and the Commonwealth’s Attorney.

Any registered voter can participate in the primaries. Polls are open until 7 p.m.

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