Polls open for Va. Senate special election

HERNDON, Va. (WJLA) - Jennifer Wexton is running for Virginia State Senate, and if she wins on Tuesday, Democrats will likely gain control of the State Senate – and that’s something she reminds voters whenever she gets the chance.

"Electing me would give the opportunity to bring the focus in Richmond back where it belongs, away from the social agenda being pushed by republicans," she says.

Democrat Mark Herring’s victory in the Attorney General’s race opened up his Senate seat in the 33rd District, which includes Leesburg, Sterling, and Herndon. A Wexton win, coupled with the tie-breaking vote of Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, would give Governor McAliffe a Democratic majority in the Senate as he faces a House of Delegates controlled by Republicans.

An ad from Wexton, a former prosecutor from Loudoun County, has also brought more attention to the race:

"In the Virginia senate, I'll fight just as hard against tea party Republicans who would take away woman's health care and her right to choose, even in cases of incest and rape."

"It really has backfired to get that shrill and that angry with that ad...that ad has fired people up," says attorney John Whitbeck, her Republican opponent. According to him, his campaign's fundraising and volunteering are up since the airing of the ad. He is rallying against Medicaid expansion and increased tolls on the Dulles Greenway, and says the Wexton ad is no surprise.

"They're doing everything they can to avoid talking about the issues, but demonizing Republicans," he says.

Joe May, a former Republican member of the House, has split ties with the party and is now running as an Independent. May says that independence is exactly what voters want:

"I think I offer an alternative to any sort of partisan politics gumming up the works," he explains.