Our final analysis of the statewide Democratic primaries here in the Commonwealth of Virginia will focus on the contest for Attorney General. As a refresher, incumbent AG Mark Herring (D-Loudoun) is seeking a third term while facing opposition from Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk).
Jones tipped his hat in the ring at a time when Herring’s intentions to seek another term were (at least publicly) dubious at best. Yours truly had heard that Herring planned to run for re-election instead of making a bid for the governorship as early as 2019, well before Jay Jones had entered the race. To his credit, Jones has built an impressive, formidable campaign; not formidable enough, though, to defeat an 8-year incumbent with strong name recognition among Democratic voters.
A recent Roanoke College poll showed that Herring claimed half of primary voters while Jones trailed with just 20%, with 23% of Virginia voters undecided. Those numbers would have to be functionally meaningless for Jones to win.
If Jones wins, which is a (very) remote possibility, it would involve him dominating Hampton Roads, handily beating Herring in Richmond, holding his own ground in Northern Virginia and winning enough rural localities with high African-American populations. Still, this result would be a tough sell. Herring has outraised and outspent Jones throughout the campaign and has a two-term incumbency advantage.
The more pragmatic question at hand concerns how much of the vote Herring ends up winning. Depending on the margin, this primary could possibly help Jones with a future run at statewide office if he chooses to make a bid.
We rate the Democratic primary for Attorney General as Very Likely Herring.