Despite raising twice as much money as either of his two closest challengers, Mayor Levar Stoney has struggled to get his polling above 40 percent. Two weeks ago, Councilmember Kim Gray recently saw her polling drop from 33 to 16 percent, with a high undecided voter rate. That poll placed her just ahead of the third-closest competitor, Alexsis Rodgers, who has failed to poll significantly better than 15 percent. As a result, Stoney may win despite polling at less than a majority.
However, on Monday, Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) went on The John Fredericks Radio Show and laid out a potential path to victory for Gray.
“She is ahead in [districts] one, two, and four. The third district, which is north side, the Ginter Park area, it’s tied, but she’s gaining momentum, and she’s gaining momentum in both the eight and the ninth where she was eight points behind.”
In order to win the election outright, a candidate needs to win the most votes in five out of nine wards. If no candidate wins five wards, the top two candidates go to a runoff. According to pundit Paul Goldman, that forces the candidates to campaign in each ward in Richmond, instead of relying on high turnout in a few districts. It also creates a ward-by-ward calculation — if a candidate has just 15 percent support spread across the city, can they carry a majority in a single ward?
Morrissey described why he thinks Gray’s chances are improving in Stoney’s traditional territory, the eighth and ninth wards. He said Stoney lost support among white voters over how he removed the city’s Confederate monuments, and he said Stoney lost support among black voters with his handling of the police during Richmond’s protests.
“The fact that there were three people opposing Stoney really, really helped him.” Morrissey said, “The anti-incumbent vote, and it is large, is now being split by three other candidates.”
Morrissey said that Rodgers is taking votes away from both Stoney and Gray, and underdog Justin Griffin is taking votes away from Gray.
Rodgers has had strong grassroots support, receiving 651 donations of $100 or less in September, according to The Virginia Public Access Project.
Morrissey predicted that Gray would narrowly win. “At the end of the day, she should prevail in one, two, three, and four, and it will be a nail-biter on election night to see if she takes eight,” Morrissey said.
Full disclosure: In September, the John Fredericks Radio Network donated $400 to Kim Gray’s campaign.
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and the Star News Digital Network. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Joe Morrissey” by Ballotpedia. Photo “Kim Gray” by Kim Gray for RVA Facebook. Background Photo “Richmond” by Jim CC BY-SA 2.0.