The Virginia Primary Is a Huge Test of Biden's Fresh Endorsements and Bloomberg's Cash

Polls in Virginia close early enough that the results could impact voter sentiment in Texas and California.
March 3, 2020, 11:17pm
People vote in the Super Tuesday primary at Belvedere Elementary School on March 3, 2020 in Falls Church, Virginia.

UPDATE March 3, 2020, 7:08 p.m.: CNN is projecting Joe Biden will win Virginia's primary.

ARLINGTON, Virginia – Voters here could play an outsized role in affecting Democratic primaries nationwide on Super Tuesday. Its polls — along with Vermont’s — close at 7 p.m. EST tonight while millions of West Coast voters will still be able to cast their own ballots.

And former Vice President Joe Biden is surging here — at least among the Democratic establishment.

While Sen. Bernie Sanders is still polling well in this purple state, the state’s Democratic political establishment has flocked to Biden since his impressive win in South Carolina, and that’s accelerated after Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg pulled out of the race and endorsed him.

On Monday alone, more than 30 state and local officials, along with prominent party activists here, endorsed Biden, including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and Sen. Tim Kaine.

READ: Democrats just sued to keep Nashville's polls open later after deadly tornados

Since that win, three-term congressman Don Beyer moved from Buttigieg’s camp to Team Biden.

“I think Joe was always my second choice, and now clearly my first choice. One of my worries about Joe had been electability. But I think he's proven pretty conclusively in the last couple of primaries that he has what it takes to win,” Beyer told VICE News in the basement of the Capitol.

Virginia will also be a huge test of the impact of Mike Bloomberg’s money. The former New York City mayor’s foundation Everytown for Gun Safety gave to 25 different state and local officials in Virginia in a successful bid to flip the Legislature from red to blue in 2018. Now he's got some of their endorsements.

READ: Black activists literally turned their backs on Mike Bloomberg. Will voters do the same?

Beyer is joined by two Virginia freshman Democrats, Reps. Elaine Luria and Jennifer Wexton. Wexton’s the first Democrat to represent her suburban Washington, D.C., district in nearly four decades.

“I plan to run the same race regardless of who's at the top of the ticket,” Wexton (D-VA) told VICE News while walking through a tunnel to the Capitol proudly rocking an “I voted” sticker.

Wexton and other more moderate Virginia Democrats say they plan to run on their own records no matter who the Democratic nominee is come November. Still, she’s actively distancing herself from Sanders’ progressive policies.

READ: Will the South stop Bernie — again?

“Everybody agrees that we need to do something about healthcare prices, so I think we're on the same page with that. I don't support Medicare for All,” Wexton said.

Wexton’s in one of the House Democrats' “Frontline” districts, and while she won’t say it, other Democrats in the state are openly worrying about retaining swing counties with Bernie Sanders at the top of the ticket.

“Speaking honestly and probably not politically smart, I think Bernie will make it much more difficult for most of our Frontline candidates,” Beyer said. “I want to keep the House, and I want to be able to take back the Senate — it's not that it's impossible to do it with a Bernie; it's just easier to see how to do it with a Joe Biden.”

Cover: People vote in the Super Tuesday primary at Belvedere Elementary School on March 3, 2020 in Falls Church, Virginia. (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)