Virginia, New Jersey voters decide on state offices
November 3, 2021
The 2021 fall elections have wrapped up around the country and attention now turns to next year’s mid-term elections.
On Tuesday, voters in Virginia and New Jersey cast ballots for gubernatorial seats and state legislators.
In Virginia, Republican Glenn Youngkin bested Democrat Terry McAuliffe by a margin of 51 to 48. Youngkin will replace outgoing Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam, who is term-limited and could not run for reelection.
McAuliffe served as Virginia governor from 2014 to 2018. His 2021 campaign touted billions in investments during his tenure as governor to improve some of the most congested roadways in the state.
Among Youngkin’s campaign promises is to overhaul the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
After being declared the winner on election night, he pledged to suspend the most recent increase in the state’s fuel tax.
On July 1, 2021, the state’s gas tax increased a nickel to 26.2 cents per gallon. The diesel tax was raised 6.8 cents to 27 cents per gallon.
In the only other gubernatorial election, New Jersey Democratic incumbent Phil Murphy and Republican challenger Jack Ciattarelli are in a race that remains too close to call. There is no automatic recount.
In 2020, the Murphy administration increased the state’s fuel rates by 9.3 cents. The increase was attributed to the pandemic.
The governor’s office blamed a 2016 state law that requires a steady stream of revenue to support the state’s Transportation Trust Fund. The rule requires the state treasurer to adjust the tax rate each year to ensure it brings in revenue needed to pay the bills for transportation work.
Ciattarelli listed infrastructure and transportation as a priority in his campaign but few details were made available. He opposed the fuel rate increase.
In addition to the gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, many state legislative seats were also on fall election ballots in the two states.
All of New Jersey’s 120 Assembly and Senate seats were contested with Democrats holding onto their majorities in each chamber. Virginia voters cast ballots on all 100 House seats with mid-afternoon Wednesday results showing Republicans set to claim the majority.
With this year’s elections concluded, both parties turn their attention to 2022. Next November, 36 states will elect governors. Of those, seven governors are term limited with three Democrats and four Republicans not eligible to seek re-election.
There are 16 Republicans and 11 Democrats who can pursue another term.
Democratic governors Kathy Hochul of New York and Daniel McKee of Rhode Island can run for the seat they now hold. Each person was appointed as their state’s governor when the elected governors stepped down.
Also in 2022, 84% of the nation’s state legislative seats will be up for grabs. LL
More election coverage
Keith Goble, state legislative editor for Land Line Media, keeps track of transportation ballot questions across the U.S. Here is his coverage of how some notable ballot questions fared around the country.