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Usually considered a launching point for a future gubernatorial run, the lieutenant governor presides over the Senate, but only casts a vote when there is a tie.

When serving under a governor of the same party, the job is mostly ceremonial. Under a governor of the opposite party, it borders on irrelevance.

Nevertheless, the campaign to win the seat this year has been heated.

Mr. Bolling faces Jody M. Wagner, a former state secretary of finance and lawyer who owns a confectionery company in her native Virginia Beach.

The Wagner campaign has criticized Mr. Bolling for, among other things, a lack of commitment to the position, noting that he frequently misses meetings of boards and commissions of which the lieutenant governor is a member.

“He’s given the job a bum rap. It’s a role where you can be effective and do a lot. He’s chosen to spend his time not doing it,” Mrs. Wagner told The Times.

Mr. Bolling has accused the Democrat of making unsound fiscal projections that put the state at an economic disadvantage.

“I don’t think her record as secretary of finance deserves a promotion,” he said.

Each side has accused the other of running a negative campaign.

“Her criticism of my record is totally dishonest, a gross distortion,” Mr. Bolling said.

Mrs. Wagner, 54, said the choice between the two candidates is “sort of like night and day.”

She said she will work full time and devote herself to creating jobs and building coalitions in the community to further goals that include reforming transportation and expanding educational opportunities.

“I think if there is one thing I have shown in my seven years is that I am a very capable leader who will push to improve the commonwealth,” Mrs. Wagner said.

She cited the need for education reforms from pre-K through college and said educating Virginia’s workers today will create a work force capable of winning high-tech jobs. She also said the state needs to ensure that trade school education isn’t overlooked.

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