Election Day Live Updates: Virginia Governor’s Race Takes Center Stage

Voters are headed to the polls in off-year contests across the nation, but the increasingly tight Virginia governor’s race between Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe is drawing the most attention.,

Jeff Mays

Nov. 2, 2021, 10:20 a.m. ETNov. 2, 2021, 10:20 a.m. ET

Jeff Mays

Reporting from New York

After a sluggish general election season and slow early voting turnout, New York City residents are poised to elect Eric Adams as the second Black mayor and Alvin Bragg as the first Black district attorney of Manhattan. Follow our updates here.

Stephanie Saul

Nov. 2, 2021, 10:07 a.m. ETNov. 2, 2021, 10:07 a.m. ET
Challengers are seeking to oust four incumbents on Tuesday in a special recall election for the Mequon-Thiensville School Board in an affluent Wisconsin suburb north of Milwaukee.Credit…Carlos Javier Ortiz for The New York Times

Local school board races are normally sleepy political contests that garner little attention, but not this year. School elections nationwide have become partisan contests with unusually high participation, sparked by debates over mask mandates and teachings on race.

Candidates have drawn money and help from politicians and outside groups — some hoping that these elections increase enthusiasm and turnout in next year’s midterms. Here are some of the races we’re watching.


This special recall election in an affluent suburb north of Milwaukee pits four incumbents against challengers, led by Scarlett Johnson, a local mother who claims the system of 3,700 school students is influenced by critical race theory.

While Wisconsin school board races are supposedly nonpartisan, it’s clearly red vs. blue in Mequon-Thiensville. Rebecca Kleefisch, a Republican running for governor in 2022, visited to help get-out-the-vote efforts for the challengers, and Dick Uihlein, a wealthy Republican megadonor from Illinois, contributed money.


A slate of three candidates in this district southwest of Kansas City has support from the 1776 Project, a national political action committee that claims critical race theory is hostile to white people. The PAC has raised more than $400,000 to bolster more than 50 school board candidates across the country — focusing on campaigns in seven states.

Andrew Van Der Laan, a local business consultant running against one of the 1776 Project candidates, points out that there is no critical race theory in the district’s curriculum. “It does not seem to be a pressing issue,” said Mr. Van Der Laan, whose platform focuses on recovering from the coronavirus pandemic by measuring learning loss among students and figuring out how to make up for it.


This suburb west of Cleveland is home to one of the more hotly contested school board races in Ohio, where all 660 districts are holding elections. There is a statewide total of 2,628 candidates — a 30 percent increase since 2019.

In Bay Village, residents say they have received a barrage of literature and social media. One slate of three candidates is backed by a group called Ohio Value Voters, which opposes critical race theory and sex education in schools. Another group, Protect Ohio’s Future, which says it supports diversity and inclusion, has endorsed the other three candidates.


Charter schools — not critical race theory — are the big issue in this race that has drawn more than $800,000 in outside spending. Twelve candidates are running for four open seats on the school board, which serves 92,000 students, with most aligned with either teachers’ unions or so-called education reform groups that support the creation of charter schools.

Nov. 2, 2021, 9:28 a.m. ETNov. 2, 2021, 9:28 a.m. ET

By The New York Times

Voters across the country — shown here from Georgia, New York, Virginia and Minnesota — woke up early to beat the lines on Tuesday.

Tracey Tully

Nov. 2, 2021, 8:54 a.m. ETNov. 2, 2021, 8:54 a.m. ET
Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey has maximized the power of incumbency in his re-election bid.Credit…Al Drago for The New York Times

Gov. Philip D. Murphy of New Jersey is hoping to do what the state’s last three Democratic governors have failed to accomplish: win re-election.

Jack Ciattarelli, a Republican trying to deny Mr. Murphy that victory, reminded voters of the dry spell as he barnstormed in recent weeks, visiting diners, veterans halls and more diners, hammering home his campaign’s Wall Street-versus-Main Street theme.

“He’s taking us to a different place,” Mr. Ciattarelli said of Mr. Murphy, a wealthy former Goldman Sachs executive and self-described progressive. “It’s not who we are.”

If public polling proves accurate, Mr. Murphy, 64, is poised to outrun state history and become the first Democratic governor that voters send back to Trenton for a second term since 1977, when Brendan T. Byrne was re-elected.

But with New Jersey’s one of just two U.S. governors’ races ahead of next year’s midterm elections, all eyes are on the margins and the clues they might offer about Democrats’ odds of moving President Biden’s ambitious agenda across the finish line and retaining their slim majority in Congress.

Every seat in the State Legislature, which is controlled by Democrats, is also on the ballot on Tuesday, and voters will face two referendums, including one that would allow betting on New Jersey college teams and collegiate events held in the state.

New Jersey legalized sports betting in 2018, and in September became the first state in the country to rake in more than $1 billion in bets in a single month. But collegiate events held in the state, or those involving New Jersey teams playing elsewhere, were excluded because of concerns over cheating.

The 2020 presidential election was held predominantly using mail-in ballots to limit the spread of the coronavirus. But this year, for the first time, voters in New Jersey were able to cast ballots early — on machines.

Roughly 208,000 of the state’s 6.5 million voters took advantage of the nine-day early voting window, which included four weekend days.

Democrats have expanded their voting edge in New Jersey over the last decade, and now have nearly 1.1 million more people registered than Republicans do, widening the gap by roughly 400,000 voters since 2011. Mr. Byrne won re-election by just under 300,000 votes.

The final sprint to Tuesday laid bare one of the main differences in the two candidates’ campaigns.

Mr. Ciattarelli, a former state assemblyman, crisscrossed the state in a black S.U.V., shaking hands at booths in at least 14 diners in the last week.

Mr. Murphy stumped with national Democratic luminaries, including former President Barack Obama, the first lady, Jill Biden, and Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

He also maximized the power of incumbency, appearing with President Biden to discuss a $1 trillion infrastructure bill that has been bogged down in Washington and its importance for fixing things like the Portal Bridge, an old and cranky movable rail span a few miles from Manhattan that regularly delays rush-hour commutes.

Four recent public polls showed Mr. Murphy ahead by a comfortable margin.

But at a get-out-the-vote rally with Mr. Murphy at Rutgers University on Thursday, Senator Sanders warned an enthusiastic crowd of students that turnout was expected to be low, and that victory would be in the margins.

“Let us win this election,” he said. “Let us win it in landslide proportions. And let us tell Republicans that their day is over in New Jersey.”

Ellen Barry

Nov. 2, 2021, 8:54 a.m. ETNov. 2, 2021, 8:54 a.m. ET
Michelle Wu and her family arrive to vote in Boston’s Roslindale neighborhood on Tuesday.Credit…Philip Keith for The New York Times

Polls since the preliminary election in the Boston mayor’s race have shown Michelle Wu with a substantial lead over her opponent, Annissa Essaibi George. Both women are Democrats and at-large city councilors.

Though Asian Americans are the country’s fastest-growing electorate, Asian American candidates have not fared well in big-city races. Of the country’s 100 largest cities, six have Asian American mayors, all in California or Texas, according to the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies.

Ms. Wu, a protegee of Senator Elizabeth Warren, began her political career in Boston as it was turning a corner, its electorate increasingly young, well-educated and left-leaning.

She proposes to make Boston a laboratory for progressive policy; to reapportion city contracts to firms owned by Black Bostonians; to pare away the power of the police union; to waive fees for some public transportation; and to restore a form of rent control, a prospect that alarms real estate interests.

“In nearly a decade in city government, I have learned that the easiest thing to do in government is nothing,” Ms. Wu said. “And in trying to deliver change, there will be those who are invested in the status quo who will be disrupted, or uncomfortable, or even lose out.”

Critics says Ms. Wu is promising change she cannot deliver, since several signature policies, like rent control, require action by state bodies outside the mayor’s control.

“Michelle talks, day in and day out, about things that are not real,” said Ms. Essaibi George, who has run as a pragmatic centrist and is an ally of former Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “My style is to be accurate in the things I say out loud, and to make promises I can truly keep.”

Shane Goldmacher

Nov. 2, 2021, 12:01 a.m. ETNov. 2, 2021, 12:01 a.m. ET
Polls show that the governor’s race in Virginia — between Terry McAuliffe, speaking in Richmond on Monday at right above, and Glenn Youngkin — is at a dead heat.Credit…Carlos Bernate for The New York Times

Most of the political world’s attention on Tuesday will be focused on Virginia, where former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, is trying to return to his old office in a run against Glenn Youngkin, a wealthy Republican business executive.

Polls show the race is a dead heat. And the themes of the contest — with Mr. McAuliffe trying relentlessly to tie Mr. Youngkin to former President Donald J. Trump, and Mr. Youngkin focusing on how racial inequality is taught in schools, among other cultural issues — have only amplified the election’s potential as a national bellwether. The results will be closely studied by both parties for clues about what to expect in the 2022 midterms.

While the Virginia race is Tuesday’s marquee matchup, there are other notable elections taking place. Voters in many major American cities will choose their next mayor, and some will weigh in on hotly contested ballot measures, including on the issue of policing. There’s another governor’s race in New Jersey, too. Here is what to watch in some of the key contests that will provide the most detailed and textured look yet at where voters stand more than nine months into the Biden administration.

Republicans are hoping Mr. Youngkin can prevail by cutting into Democratic margins in suburban Northern Virginia and turning out voters who remain motivated by Mr. Trump.Credit…Carlos Bernate for The New York Times

Democrats have won Virginia in every presidential contest since 2008. Last year, it wasn’t particularly close. Mr. Biden won by 10 percentage points.

But Virginia also has a history of bucking the party of a new president — the state swung to the G.O.P. in 2009, during former President Barack Obama’s first year in office — and Republicans hope Mr. Youngkin has found a formula for success in the post-Trump era.

To prevail, Mr. Youngkin needs to cut into the margins in suburban Northern Virginia, where voters have made the state increasingly Democratic, while also turning out a Republican base that remains motivated by Mr. Trump.

His playbook has focused heavily on education, attacking Mr. McAuliffe for a debate remark that parents should not be directing what schools teach and capitalizing on a broader conservative movement against schools teaching about systemic racism. The result: Education has been the top issue in the race, according to an October Washington Post poll, giving Republicans the edge on a topic that has traditionally favored Democrats.

Mr. McAuliffe has aggressively linked Mr. Youngkin to Mr. Trump, who endorsed the Republican but never traveled to Virginia to campaign for him. If Mr. Youngkin loses, it will showcase the G.O.P.’s ongoing challenge in being associated with Mr. Trump, even without Mr. Trump on the ballot. But if Mr. McAuliffe loses, it will intensify pressure on Democrats to develop a new, proactive message.

Control of the Virginia House of Delegates is also up for grabs. For now, Democrats have an edge of 55-45 seats that they built during the Trump years.

In the New Jersey governor’s race, the Democratic incumbent, Philip D. Murphy, is up for re-election. Polls have shown Mr. Murphy ahead, but Mr. Biden’s weakening job approval rating in the solidly Democratic state — which stood at 43 percent in a recent Monmouth poll — is a cause of concern. The results will be watched for evidence of how much of the erosion in Mr. Biden’s support has seeped down-ballot.

India Walton, left, has the support of progressives like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in her bid to be the next mayor of Buffalo, N.Y.Credit…Libby March for The New York Times

It is not the biggest city with a mayor’s race on Tuesday, but the City Hall battle in Buffalo, N.Y., may be the most fascinating.

India Walton, who would be the first socialist to lead a major American city in decades, defeated the incumbent Democratic mayor, Byron Brown, in the June primary. But Mr. Brown is now running a write-in campaign.

Ms. Walton has won the backing of progressives, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and some party leaders, like Senator Chuck Schumer, but other prominent Democrats have stayed neutral, most notably Gov. Kathy Hochul, a lifelong resident of the Buffalo region.

Policing has been a major issue. Though Ms. Walton has distanced herself from wanting to reduce police funding, Mr. Brown attacked her on the issue in a television ad.

In Boston, the runoff puts two City Council members, Michelle Wu and Annissa Essaibi George, against each other, with Ms. Wu running as the progressive. Ms. Wu, who is backed by Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, finished in first place in the primary.

In New York City, Eric Adams, the borough president of Brooklyn and a Democrat, is expected to win the mayor’s race and has already fashioned himself as a national figure. “I am the face of the new Democratic Party,” Mr. Adams declared after his June primary win.

In Miami, Mayor Francis Suarez, a rare big-city Republican mayor, is heavily favored to win re-election and is lined up to become the president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, giving him a national platform.

And in Atlanta, a crowded field of 14 candidates, including the City Council president, Felicia Moore, is expected to lead to a runoff as former Mayor Kasim Reed attempts to make a comeback.

In Minneapolis, voters will decide whether to replace the Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety.Credit…Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times

One recurring theme in municipal races is policing, as communities grapple with the “defund the police” slogan that swept the country following the police killing of George Floyd last year. The debate is raging inside the Democratic Party over how much to overhaul law enforcement — and over how to talk about such an overhaul.

Perhaps nowhere is the issue more central than in Minneapolis, the city where Mr. Floyd was killed, sparking civil unrest across the country. Voters there will decide on a measure to replace the troubled Minneapolis Police Department with a new Department of Public Safety.

Mayor Jacob Frey, who is up for re-election, has opposed that measure and pushed for a more incremental approach. His challengers, among them Sheila Nezhad, want a more aggressive approach.

Policing is a key issue not only in the Buffalo mayor’s race, but also in mayoral contests in Seattle, Atlanta and in Cleveland, where an amendment that would overhaul how the city’s police department operates is on the ballot as well.

The mayor’s race in Cleveland puts Justin Bibb, a 34-year-old political newcomer, against Kevin Kelley, the City Council president. Mr. Bibb supports the police amendment and Mr. Kelley opposes it.

Shontel Brown, a Democrat, is expected to win a special election for a House seat in Cleveland.Credit…Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

There are two special elections for House races in Ohio, with Shontel Brown, a Democratic Cuyahoga County Council member, expected to win a heavily Democratic seat in Cleveland. Mike Carey, a longtime Republican coal lobbyist, is favored in a district that sprawls across a dozen counties.

Mr. Carey faces Allison Russo, a Democrat endorsed by Mr. Biden. Mr. Carey’s margin in a seat that Mr. Trump carried by more than 14 points last year will be another valuable indicator of the political environment.

In Florida, a primary is being held for the seat of Representative Alcee Hastings, who died earlier this year. The winner will be favored in a January special election.

The only statewide races happening in Pennsylvania on Tuesday are for the courts. The most closely watched contest is for the State Supreme Court, which features two appeals court judges, the Republican Kevin Brobson and the Democrat Maria McLaughlin. Democrats currently hold a 5-2 majority on the court and the seat being vacated was held by a Republican, so the result will not swing control.

But millions of dollars in advertising are pouring into the state, a sign not just of the increasing politicization of judicial contests, but also of the state’s role as a top presidential battleground.

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