NORFOLK The race is on to replace Lt. Governor-elect Ralph Northam in Virginia's 6th State Senate district. The winner of the seat will help determine the balance of power in the Senate next year, with Republicans currently holding a 20-19 seat lead. If a Democrat wins the seat, Democrats will control the Senate because Northam would cast the tie-breaking vote as Lt. Governor.
Democrats across the 6th district (which includes parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, plus three counties on the Eastern shore) are invited to participate in caucuses around the district this Saturday, November 16th. The caucus will be held from 10 AM to 2 PM. Click here to find a location if you are intereted in participating.
Republicans will choose their candidate in a party canvass on Thursday, November 21st, from 3 to 7 pm. Click here to find out a location to participate in the canvass.
13News Now political analyst Quentin Kidd, professor of political science at Christopher Newport University, explains below
CANVASS VS. CAUCUS
In reality, a canvass (also known as a firehouse primary) and a caucus are nearly the same thing in practice.
For the Republicans, a canvass or "firehouse primary" is a gathering at a set location to cast secret ballots and then leave. Participants can come any time during the hours of canvas. The party can set requirements for participation, and those normally are legal voters in the district who are in accord with the principles of the Republican Party and who promise to support Republican candidates, and not work for another party or its nominee. Sometimes people are asked to make a verbal oath, and other times to sign a declaration that they will support Republican candidates.
For the Democratic side, a caucus is a meeting of Democrats at a set location to cast secret ballots, and leave. Like with the Republican canvas, Democrats can set requirements for participation, and those requirements are normally similar: be legally able to vote in the district, be in accord with the principles of the Democratic Party, and promise to support Democratic candidates, and not support or work for another party nominee. Like with the Republican canvas, participants in a Democratic caucus have to make this declaration verbally or in writing.