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Elections Primer

The 2021 Virginia gubernatorial election will be held on November 2, 2021. Offices on the ballot include: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General and House of Delegates. Read below to learn about the responsibilities of these positions and visit the links for candidates in each race.

Traveling Town Hall

Delegate Tony Wilt (R) and Bill Helsley (D), the candidates for the 26th District House of Delegates in Virginia, traveled to JMU residence halls on October 18 to discuss with students issues facing the Commonwealth and the importance of political participation. Pizza was provided by Pizza to the Polls.


The position of Governor is the highest-ranking office in our Commonwealth. To run for the office of governor in Virginia, candidates must be a United States citizen, a resident of Virginia for five or more years, and at least thirty years old. The basic duties of the Governor include: serving as the commander-in-chief of the Virginia militia, making an address at least once per session to the General Assembly on the state of the Commonwealth, vetoing legislation passed by the General Assembly, as well as signing legislation into law. The Governor’s term lasts four years and a Governor can run for reelection. However, Virginia is the only commonwealth or state that does not permit consecutive Governor’s terms. This means that Governors cannot run in two election cycles in a row, but would need to wait four years after their first term to run again. 

In this election cycle, the Democratic candidate for Governor is Terry McAuliffe, the Republican candidate for Governor is Glenn Youngkin and Princess Blanding is an independent progressive candidate for Governor.


 Virtual Town Halls

Lieutenant Governor

The position of Lieutenant Governor is the second-highest-ranking office in our Commonwealth and serves underneath the Governor. The Lieutenant Governor and the Governor do not run as a joint ticket, but are elected in the same cycle. Similar to the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor has a term of four years. However, the Lieutenant Governor does not have a term limit. The role of the Lieutenant Governor includes being first in the line of succession such that the Governor is not able to hold office. The Lieutenant Governor serves as President of the Senate and presiding over the Senate is one of the most important duties of the Lieutenant Governor. The position of Lieutenant Governor includes serving as a member of various state boards and councils in the legislature. 

In this election cycle, the Democratic candidate for Lieutenant Governor is Hala Ayala, and the Republican candidate for Lieutenant Governor is Winsome Sears.


Attorney General

The position of Attorney General in Virginia has unique qualifications compared to the other elected roles. A candidate must be thirty years old, a citizen of the United States, and qualified to be a judge of a court of record. Similar to the Lieutenant Governor, the Attorney General has no term limit, and is elected in the same cycle as the Governor. In short, the primary role of the Attorney General is to be the Commonwealth’s law firm in accordance with the Virginia Constitution. This can mean writing legal advice to members of the General Assembly or Governor in regards to laws being written, enforcing consumer protection laws, ensuring justice by defending or overriding criminal appeals, representing the Department of Social Services on behalf of children and families, and more. This position can have a wide range of responsibilities but can be summed up with the description of being the Commonwealth’s lawyer. 

In this election cycle, the Democratic candidate for Attorney General is incumbent Democrat Mark Herring, and the Republican candidate for Attorney General is Jason Miyares.


House of Delegates

To be eligible to run for Delegate in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a candidate must be at least twenty-one, a resident of the district they are running in, and qualified to vote for members of the General Assembly (needs to be a registered voter in their district), with no term limits. The House of Delegates is the lower house in Virginia’s bicameral legislature. The duties of a Delegate are consistent with that of a Senator, in that they write, amend, and pass legislation in committees and as a House. 

In this election cycle, the candidates for the 26th district, where James Madison University is located, are incumbent Tony Wilt (Republican) and Bill Helsley (Democratic challenger).



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