WASHINGTON – The Democratic race for president is bumping up against Maryland, but even voters and political junkies in Virginia, a Super Tuesday state, aren’t seeing more than a trace of the political activity that consumed contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and South Carolina.
Tuesday is Super Tuesday, when voters go to the polls in 14 states and the territory of American Samoa, including delegate-rich California and Texas.
Virginia is in that group, but the compressed primary and caucus schedule has given the candidates little time to focus on that or other Super Tuesday states.
Candidates have made a handful of appearances in Virginia, and the better-funded ones have opened campaign headquarters, distributed lawn signs and bumper stickers, bought television ads and sent mailers to voters.
A Monmouth University Poll of likely Virginia Democratic primary voters, released Feb. 18, showed former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders tied at 22%, followed by former Vice President Joe Biden at 18%, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 11%, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar at 9% and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 5%. The survey also found 11% of those questioned undecided.
Maryland’s presidential primary is April 28, late enough that the current field is likely to be considerably smaller by then.
Indeed, Super Tuesday is likely to winnow significantly the number of Democratic contenders. That’s because 1,357 of the party’s 3,979 delegates to the Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee are up for grabs that day. To win the nomination, a candidate must capture 1,991 delegates.
Biden is scheduled to campaign in Norfolk, Virginia, on Sunday. His sister and adviser, Valerie Biden Owens, campaigned in Newport News, Virginia, earlier this month.
Biden’s campaign announced that he had won more than 30 endorsements from community leaders and elected officials in Virginia.
The Biden campaign Wednesday said it was launching “a six-figure, multi-channel” ad buy in key Super Tuesday states, including in Virginia.
“Over the past few months, we have continued to build a strong team on the ground in Super Tuesday states – and we’re excited today to add to our Super Tuesday team while also building out our battleground state operation,” the Biden campaign’s director of Super Tuesday states, Molly Ritner, said in a statement.
“Joe Biden has built the broad and diverse coalition that we know it will take to beat Donald Trump, and these resources will allow us to continue to bring the vice president’s message to the voters that we know make up the base of our party,” Ritner said.
Sanders’s campaign opened offices in Virginia in Richmond and a field office in Alexandria in preparation for Super Tuesday. The senator’s former deputy state director in Iowa, Bill Neidhardt, is leading the Virginia operation.
Sanders was scheduled to hold a rally in Richmond Thursday. On Feb. 29, he is holding rallies in Springfield, Virginia, and Virginia Beach.
Buttigieg also made his way to Virginia ahead of Super Tuesday. He held a town hall event in Arlington, Virginia, at Washington-Liberty High School on Sunday. His campaign estimated that around 8,800 people showed up.
Buttigieg’s campaign team also has made what it said was a seven-figure television and digital ad buy in 12 of the 14 Super Tuesday states, including Virginia.
Meanwhile, Warren earlier hosted a town hall at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia, attended by more than 4,000 people.
“You all are a Super Tuesday state, which means the road to the White House leads right through Virginia,” Warren told the crowd.
Bloomberg recently opened seven Virginia offices in Arlington, Richmond, Roanoke, Hampton Roads, Charlottesville, Manassas and Danville that are being run by more than 80 staffers, according to the campaign
After skipping the early states, Bloomberg has been focusing on the Super Tuesday states and has spent $13.2 million on television ads in those states.
His campaign has announced a rally with the candidate in northern Virginia on Saturday.
Klobuchar has begun running three new ads in a seven-figure buy that is covering half of the Super Tuesday states, including Virginia.
She is scheduled to campaign Friday in Falls Church, Virginia, and Saturday in Richmond and Norfolk.
Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard brought her long-shot campaign to Sterling, Virginia, Thursday, after an appearance Tuesday in Virginia Beach.
Billionaire candidate Tom Steyer’s campaign has not announced any Virginia appearances.