Commentary: Virginia Can’t Seem to Make up Its Mind About Its New Math Curriculum

Classroom of students with teacher at blackboard

What the heck is going on with the Virginia Department of Education?

A little over a week ago reports surfaced that the state would be doing away with advanced math classes for all grades except 11 and 12.

But then reports came out noting the state’s education chief disputed those reports, saying “absolutely acceleration is not going away in mathematics courses.”

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National March for Life Was Mostly Virtual, but Pro-Life Supporters Attended Local Demonstrations Across U.S.

The national March for Life in Washington D.C. looked very different on Friday compared to past years. Normally, thousands of pro-life demonstrators would march through the Capitol in the yearly march, but this year the thousands turned to social media to watch as a few hundred hand-picked representatives of the pro-life movement marched in D.C. By Friday evening, a Facebook livestream of the event had over 200,000 views.

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Commentary: It’s NFL Playoff Time! John Fredericks’ Selections

Well, here we are. Playoffs. Not a moment to too soon. A distraction from endless lockdowns, politics, and a very intense year. 

In celebration and preparation of legalized online sports wagering coming to Virginia in the next 30 days or so, we will start a new weekly column with my NFL playoff selections against the spread. 

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Martha Boneta Commentary: Many of Trump’s Massive Foreign Policy Gains Would Be Threatened If Biden Takes Over

It was hard to help but notice – and be somewhat sad about – all those happy faces Thursday afternoon when President Trump announced that Morocco had become the fourth Arab country, after Bahrain, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates to formally recognize Israel.  

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Most Popular Christmas Cookies

What’s the most popular Christmas cookie? The Virginia Star combed through several lists of cookies to get an idea of which were listed the most often. Many of the most popular cookies allow a lot of variation — bakers like to put their own creative spin on their cookies. Here’s our list:

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Favorite Christmas Songs by State

Christmas Day has finally arrived and although many people’s plans may look quite different this year, there is one thing about the holiday season that can never be changed: catchy, calming and irresistible Christmas songs.

Whether a person listens to Christmas music all 365 days of the year or only starts once winter has set in, almost everybody has a favorite jingle that inevitably gets played more often around the holidays.

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Music Spotlight: Lilly Winwood

NASHVILLE, Tennesse-  I am often sent songs to review to see if I want to feature the song(s) and/or artist in my column. When I heard Lilly Winwood’s song “Few More Records” I knew this singer/songwriter was talented. But surely this Nashville girl wasn’t related to the Brit rocker, Steve Winwood.

It turns out, surely, she is. Lilly Winwood is the 25-year-old daughter of famed rock and roller, Steve Winwood.

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Chase Caves on Convention for Virginia GOP Nomination

Six days after the Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) decided to hold a nominating convention instead of a primary, gubernatorial candidate State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) finally declared that she would run in the convention, and not as an independent.

“My team and I have received thousands of communications across the Commonwealth this past week asking me to continue to run as the next Republican Governor of Virginia,” Chase said on Facebook on Friday.

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Georgia Radio Show Callers Blast Local Officials For Double Talk, Inaction On Vote Steal Allegations

Tuesday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host John Fredricks welcomed Senator Chuck Payne, Rep. Kasey Carpenter, and Rep. Jason Ridley to the show who took calls from Georgians who expressed their anger and embarrassment of the Republica Party and called for the men to stand up and take action against election fraud.

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Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday in 2020

Retailers like Target and Walmart stretched out their traditional Black Friday sales throughout the whole month, but post-Thanksgiving shopping sprees will still be available, according to press releases from the companies. Cyber Monday will feature big deals online as usual, but don’t forget Giving Tuesday and Small Business Saturday.

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Most Popular Thanksgiving Side Dishes by State

Thanksgiving is all about spending quality time with family and friends away from the everyday responsibilities such as work and school, but the holiday really centers around the large afternoon feast where so much food is consumed that a nap is usually required immediately afterward.

And everybody knows that Turkey is the mainstay of traditionally Thanksgiving meals, hence the nickname Turkey Day, but what about the side dishes? Which classic sides are more popular than others?

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Georgia GOP Vote Chief Blames Trump And His Voters For Apparent Defeat

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), who is on the defensive with his fellow Republicans over his handling of the election and the recount, is now lobbying a serious accusation against U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and blaming President Donald Trump for not receiving more votes.

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Chesapeake Gynecologist Convicted for a Scheme of Unnecessary Surgeries, Insurance Fraud

A federal jury has convicted Javaid Perwaiz, a gynecologist accused of defrauding insurance companies by performing unnecessary procedures including hysterectomies and early induced labor, according to a Department of Justice (DOJ) press release. On Monday, the jury convicted the Chesapeake doctor on 52 counts related to the scheme.

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Truckers Plan ‘Stop the Wheels’ Shutdown in Protest of Joe Biden’s Plans for Fracking Ban, Green New Deal

If you notice store shelves that are empty of toilet paper and canned food again, it may be because of a truckers’ shutdown and not the Chinese coronavirus.

Truckers have been taking to social media to try to organize a “Stop The Wheels 2020” shutdown in protest of Joe Biden’s plans for the Green New Deal and a fracking ban in the event he assumes the presidency.

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COVID-19 Outbreak in Richmond Registrar’s Office Delays Election Results

Candidates in Richmond’s close elections will have to wait a little longer for certainty after three staffers in the Registrar’s office were diagnosed with COVID-19. Registrar Kirk Showalter said most ballots would be counted by Tuesday, but 975 provisional ballots remain to be evaluated and counted. At a Monday press conference, Showalter said she hoped results for those ballots would be available on Friday.

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University of Virginia Extends Its Optional Credit Grading Policy for January-Term and Spring Semester

The University of Virginia (UVA) announced Monday the school is extending the optional credit grading policy, originally implemented this fall, for all undergraduate and certain graduate classes during January-term and the spring 2021 semester.

Provost Liz Magill made the announcement in a letter to students, which included details on how the grading policy will work.

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Liberty Stuns Virginia Tech with Game-Winning Field Goal to Remain Undefeated

In a back-and-forth contest that featured several lead changes, No. 25 Liberty beat Virginia Tech 38-35 on Saturday thanks to a 51-yard field goal with 1 second left on the clock.

The field goal put a stamp on the thrilling game, where Liberty were forced to rally from a seven-point halftime deficit, and moved the Flames to a 7-0 record for the first time in program history.

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Virginia COVID-19 Update: Coronavirus Numbers Rising Throughout the State, Vaccine Expected by Year End, Officials Say

As the winter months, colder weather and the holiday season are approaching, the coronavirus numbers, encompassing a number of different metrics, have been increasing throughout Virginia over the last month or so, according to government officials.

At a televised briefing Tuesday afternoon, Governor Ralph Northam said the state is seeing a rise in cases, percent positivity – now at 6.2 percent – and hospitalizations.

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After Teacher ‘Sick-Out’ Fizzles, Students Return to In-Person Learning in Chesterfield County

An anticipated organized ‘sick-out’ by Chesterfield County Public Schools (CCPS) teachers did not develop Monday, as the last cohort of students returned to in-person classes. This week, grades 6-12 are entering a hybrid in-person program where students are in-person two days a week, according to documentation from the school board. Younger students have already returned. Parents were given the choice to opt-in to the hybrid program.

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Richmond Prosecutor: Officer Justified in Marcus-David Peters Shooting

Richmond Commonwealth’s Attorney Colette W. McEachin determined that the officer shooting of Marcus-David Peters was justified, according to a report of her investigation into the May 2018 incident. McEachin’s report, released last week, describes Peters, a Black man, having a likely mental crisis that resulted in him running nude on I-95. Peters then approached a responding officer who fired first a Taser and then a gun at Peters.

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UVA Men’s Basketball Team Prepares for Season Full of Unknowns

As the return of college basketball quickly approaches, the University of Virginia (UVA) men’s basketball team is preparing for what could be one of the most challenging and unique seasons in the history of the sport due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Cavaliers, just like every other team, have been attempting to navigate through an odd preseason full of new protocols and adjustments, and trying to get ready for the regular season with many aspects still unknown.

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Senate Passes Majority of Gov. Northam’s Amendments, Concluding Lengthy Special Session

The Virginia Senate on Monday adopted a number of slight changes to legislation and the budget recommended by Governor Ralph Northam, including language for the implementation of the recently-approved redistricting commission.

Overall, including the budget, the Senate passed amendments for ten bills from the House and Senate. Most passage votes were primarily along party lines with a couple amendments garnering unanimous support.

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Richmond’s Second District Becomes Local Election Battleground

While the nation watched the national elections, voters in Richmond’s second district quietly disrupted local politics. Voters surprised mayoral election watchers by voting for Alexsis Rodgers instead of current district two councilmember Kim Gray. Voters have also locked the race for Gray’s city council replacement into a narrow two-way contest where leader Tavarris Spinks is ahead of Katherine Jordan by just 26 votes out of 14,086, according to unofficial results at the Virginia Public Access Project.

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Lance Allen Wants to Bring a Fresh Approach to Virginia Politics as Lt. Gov.

Virginia lieutenant governor candidate Lance Allen is determined to bring a new approach to state-level politics in the Commonwealth and offer Virginians with something that has been lacking: a politician who will listen to their problems. 

Allen formally announced his entrance into the 2021 Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial election back in August, joining a handful of other Republican hopefuls in a pursuit to become the second-highest-ranking government official in the state. 

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Virginia Department of Education Leader Accused of Appropriating Government Resources to Speak on Equity at Loudoun County Public Schools

Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) Director of Equity and Community Engagement Leah Dozier Walker will moderate a Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) event on equity. Walker also advocates other issues including Black Lives Matter, anti-racism, critical race theory, and social justice. 

Earlier this year, Virginia Inspector General Michael Westfall accused Walker of appropriating government resources to set up her private consulting business. Westfall noted in his report that Walker had accumulated nearly 100 hours of unexplained absences the previous year, as well as offered consulting services that were almost the same as her state duties.

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Governor Signs Sentencing Reform Legislation into Law

Last week Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation into law from the Virginia General Assembly special session, which gives judges sentencing power instead of juries in most criminal cases.

Sponsored by Sen. Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond City), Senate Bill 5007 changes a 224-year practice in the Commonwealth where juries had the authority to pass sentences after a conviction had been made.

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Where the Republican Party Stands: Virginia’s Political Shifts in the 2020 Election

The 2020 election outcomes revealed a telling political trajectory occurring in Virginia and the nation. Final tallies indicated that Republicans’ future chances of winning in the state may be ever-slimming. A consistent theme across the board – Republicans fell short with the unprecedented number of absentee voters.

Although Republicans increased their presidential vote totals from 2016 by about 185,000, Democrats increased their votes by nearly 400,000. In every election since 2008, Democratic candidates had only enjoyed about a 10,000 vote increase per year.

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Canadian Company Caught Quietly Exploring for Gold in Buckingham County

Buckingham County officials discovered Canadian mining company Aston Bay Holdings sample drilling in parts of the region for gold deposits, in violation of zoning requirements, according to minutes from a planning commission meeting. After stopping the company in June from continuing its exploration, Buckingham officials have been holding meetings and public hearings to decide whether or not to allow Aston Bay Holdings to continue its core drilling. The issue is the latest conflict of environmentalists and mineral extraction businesses fighting for local support in Virginia.

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Mayoral Results in Portsmouth, Roanoke and Suffolk

In addition to Richmond and Virginia Beach, the cities of Roanoke, Suffolk, and Portsmouth all held mayoral elections on Tuesday. In Suffolk, Councilmember Michael Duman has a solid lead in unofficial results; in Roanoke, incumbent Democrat Sherman Lea has declared victory; and in Portsmouth, Councilmember Shannon Glover has won, according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP).

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Virginia Star Reporter Corinne Murdock Describes Husbands Inspirational Gesture of Patriotism and Her Latest Story About Detroit’s Health Dept. Keeping GOP Poll Challengers at Bay

Friday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host John Fredricks welcomed Corinne Murdock, a reporter for The Virginia Star, to the show to weigh in on her recent stories about voter dumping and GOP poll watchers being kept away by Detroit Department of Health officials.

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UVA-Louisville Football Game Postponed Due to COVID-19 Outbreak in Cardinals Program

The University of Virginia (UVA) and University of Louisville football game set to take place Saturday has been tentatively rescheduled to November 14, after several Cardinals players and support staff tested positive for the coronavirus this week, the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) announced Wednesday.

This is the second time a UVA football game has needed to be moved from its original date because of COVID-19 this season.

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Conservatism Gaining Traction in Virginia: Loudoun County Republican Women’s Club

In the northernmost corner of the deep blue state of Virginia, a red stronghold emerged: “Loudoun County Republican Women’s Club.” President Patti Menders is responsible for the club’s newfound success. Menders is a first-generation American, the daughter of refugees from the Cuban exile instigated by Fidel Castro’s communist dictatorship.

Her work made the club the largest Republican Women’s Club in Virginia. Since her appointment last December, she has increased membership from 30-odd members to nearly 200: about a 600 percent increase. 

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Spanberger Declares Victory in Seventh Congressional District, Freitas to Wait for Final Results Before Conceding Race

Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-07) declared victory Wednesday night over Republican challenger and state Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, after further early voting counts gave her a 5,132-vote lead.

Spanberger took the lead after Spotsylvania County reported its final absentee ballots and Henrico County tallied additional absentee votes, which officials overlooked because the ballots had been saved on a mislabeled flash drive, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP).

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Constitutional Amendment on Redistricting Commission Approved by Virginia Voters

The majority of Virginia voters approved a constitutional amendment this week aimed to prevent and stop political gerrymandering by changing the Commonwealth’s redistricting process.

Sixty six percent of Virginians answered yes to constitutional amendment question 1 on ballots and, overall, voters in every locality were in support except for Arlington, while 34 percent voted no to the question, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

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Virginia Gets Four Casinos

Four cities have voted to bring casinos to Virginia for the first time, according to unofficial results reported on The Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). Although Norfolk City is only reporting 93.9 percent of its votes, over 42,611 of those votes are in favor of the initiative versus 22,822 against.

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Hacker Accessed D.C. Donor Information from Virginia Hospital Center For Months

An unauthorized party accessed donor and fundraiser information for months from Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), who has served the Washington, D.C. area for 75 years. The company, Blackbaud, also reported many of its other clients’ donor and fundraising data jeopardized by the hackers.

VHC stored donors’ personal information. This included names, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses – even birth dates and the last four digits of credit card numbers. Hackers had access to these records for approximately three months, from February to May. However, the last traces of hacking didn’t cease until early June.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for November 6

Welcome to the Friday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

We are in Election Day +2, and the nation is currently still awaiting results in several key battleground states.

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Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney Wins Re-election

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has won another term in office with 38.07 percent of voters, just ahead of the 35.72 percent of voters he won in 2016, according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) and the City of Richmond. That upper-30s range is also the percent of support the mayor had in recent 2020 polls. In his first term, the mayor faced challenges including poor graduation rates in Richmond schools, controversy over his coliseum project, COVID-19 health and economic concerns, and questions of racial equity around policing and Confederate monuments. Those issues still face the mayor as he enters a second term.

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Six Virginia Counties Vote to Keep Confederate Monuments

Residents of six rural Virginia counties voted to keep local Confederate monuments in place on Tuesday. The referenda are non-binding, but demonstrate voter preference to the local boards of supervisors. In four of the counties, over 70 percent of voters chose to keep the monuments, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). Two counties were closer; Charles City County voted against removing its monument by 55.11 percent, while Halifax County voted against relocating its monument by 59.69 percent.

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TRUMPDATE: Latest from the Team Trump Virginia Campaign for November 5

Welcome to the Thursday edition of our daily Virginia Trump campaign update! We will provide our readers with daily updates on the Trump Virginia campaign from today to November 3 (and after…if need be!).

Election Day has come and gone, and the nation is currently awaiting results in several key battleground states.

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Republican Bob Good Defeats Democratic Opponent Cameron Webb in Virginia’s 5th Congressional District

Republican candidate Bob Good beat Democratic opponent Cameron Webb by a margin of 5.5 percentage points on election night, securing Virginia’s 5th Congressional District seat and ushering in conservative representation for another two years.

Good received 52.6 percent (209,711) of the votes compared to Webb’s 47.1 percent (187,954), according to data from the Virginia Public Access Project.

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Attorney General Mark Herring Fights Trump’s Order on Diversity Training

Ahead of the election, Attorney General Mark Herring asked President Donald Trump to rescind his executive order on diversity training.

Herring co-signed a letter complaining about the potential limitations imposed on “implicit bias trainings for federal contractors and federal grantees.” Implicit bias refers to the idea that individuals aren’t aware of their attitudes or stereotypes about others.

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Incumbent Democrat Rep. Elaine Luria Defends Seat Against Republican Scott Taylor

Incumbent Elaine Luria (D-VA-02) retained her seat in a battle against Republican candidate Scott Taylor that was similar to 2018. 

In the first hour after polls closed, Taylor started out with a 23 point lead in the 17 percent of votes reported. From there on out, Taylor’s lead dwindled. Two hours after polls closed, Taylor was up by 18 points with 36 percent of the votes reported. An hour later, Taylor dropped to lead Luria by 10 points with 48 percent of votes. By 1 in the morning, Luria made her first gain ahead of Taylor, leading by 3 points with 85 percent of the vote.

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Virginia Beach Mayor Bobby Dyer Wins Re-Election

By the early morning hours of November 4, Virginia Beach mayor Bobby Dyer had secured his re-election by defeating both Jody Wagner and Richard Kowalewitch. Dyer won by about nine points against the runner-up, Wagner – an even larger margin than his 2018 victory.
The incumbent cruised ahead comfortably within the first hour, holding a 30 point lead at 27 percent of votes. Dyer gained two points from his lead at around 9 p.m. EST, which reflected 74 percent of voters. In two hours, Dyer retained his lead despite a 14 percent increase in voters factored. By two in the morning, the incumbent had winnowed down to an eight point lead representing 97 percent of voters.

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UPDATE: Unofficially, Stoney Pulls Ahead in Six of the Nine Richmond Districts

Richmond mayoral candidate Alexsis Rodgers proved surprisingly competitive in early results on Tuesday night, leading in both Councilmember Kim Gray’s home district two, and in the fifth district, which pundits expected to fall for Stoney. Stoney took the lead in district three, another critical district for Gray. Meanwhile, Gray has so far failed to take the lead in any of districts five through nine, giving Stoney a lead in five districts. That said, over 70,000 early and absentee votes still need to be counted; only 32,090 votes were available on the City of Richmond elections site as of this reporting. The 2016 mayor’s race saw over 100,000 voters, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.

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Daniel Gade Doesn’t Concede Senate Race to Mark Warner as Vote Counting in Virginia Paused

It’s been a long, hard-fought battle for Virginia’s U.S. Senate seat between Republican nominee Daniel Gade and incumbent Democrat Mark Warner. And that battle will carry on just a bit longer.

As ballot counting and reporting by the Virginia Department of Elections paused just past 11 p.m. on Election Night, Gade told supporters that he’s not going to concede the race.

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UPDATE: Freitas Clings to a 1,000 Vote Lead over Spanberger; 69,000 Potential Mail Ballots Outstanding

Despite State Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) holding a steady lead on Election night over incumbent Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-VA-05), a winner has not been declared for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District as over 220,00 early votes still need to be counted in several key counties.

Freitas held a 20-point advantage as of 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning, accumulating 60.6 percent of votes so far (143,899) compared to Spanberger’s 39.4 percent (93,573), according to data from the Associated Press.

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Richmond City Council Races to Watch

Richmond’s eighth district is getting all the love. Just like in the mayor’s race, the eighth district city council race is one of the most high-profile of Richmond’s nine city council races in 2020, according to fourth district Councilmember Kristen Larson. Larson and eighth district Councilmember Michael Jones are running unopposed in their races for re-election, so The Virginia Star asked them which other district races they were watching.

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Lynchburg Republican Party Loses Lawsuit Against Registrar’s Office Over Ballot Counting Practices

The Lynchburg Republican Party lost in its lawsuit against the Lynchburg Registrar’s Office over ballot counting practices in this election. The two went to trial on Monday.
The lawsuit alleged that the registrar had failed one day to process absentee ballots with a Republican representative present, and had also failed to notify Republican representatives of preprocessing last Friday. The judge ruled in favor of the Lynchburg Registrar’s Office in under several hours.

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Virginia House Delegates Candidate Nick Freitas Talks Confidence With Absentee and In-Person Voting Numbers

Monday morning on The John Fredericks Show, host John Fredricks welcomed Virginia House of Delegates member Nick Freitas to the show to weigh in on the current ground game and enthusiasm for Trump that he was seeing in Virginia.

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