Republican state Del. Jason Miyares has marshaled a traditional law-and-order campaign to unseat Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring.
Mr. Miyares promises to crack down on violent offenders and shore up Virginia’s police forces — objectives that he is quick to contrast with the Democratic incumbent’s social equity agenda.
“Crime is up. Cops are down,” Mr. Miyares told The Washington Times. “Everybody sees that. Everybody knows they’re seeing less officers on the street.”
Mr. Miyares has proposed a $5,000 retention bonus and pay raises to persuade law enforcement officials to remain on the job and in the state.
Offers of bonuses have become popular among Virginia officials struggling to hold onto police officers who have been rocked by more than a year of racial justice protests.
Mr. Miyares said he wants to curb early prison release for violent criminals, sending a message to police that the state supports them.
“They feel abandoned right now,” Mr. Miyares said. “Knowing that they are appreciated and that Virginia’s top cop has their back, that’s going to be critical as well.”
Mr. Miyares was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2015, becoming the first Cuban American elected to the state General Assembly.
Before his time in Richmond, he was a prosecutor in his hometown, Virginia Beach.
Mr. Herring has served as Virginia’s attorney general since 2014 and is seeking a third term.
The Democrat is pinning his reelection bid on promises to reduce gun violence, combat the opioid crisis and enhance social equity in the state.
Mr. Herring has painted his opponent as a conservative extremist.
“In this election, voters will have a clear and stark choice between my proven record of protecting Virginians and expanding rights and my Republican opponents who is an-anti health care, anti-LGBTQ, anti-choice, pro-NRA, Cuccinelli-style conservative,” Mr. Herring said at a recent rally with President Joe Biden and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe.
Asked about the criticism, Mr. Miyares said he defined himself as a Republican in the mold of Ronald Reagan.
“I’m an aspirational Reagan Republican,” he said. “That’s who I am. I am conservative, but I believe in empowering people and empowering individuals. I believe this is the last best hope on Earth.”
The latest poll on Virginia’s statewide races shows that Democrats lead in races for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
A poll by the Wason Center for Civic Leadership and AARP Virginia released on Thursday shows Mr. McAuliffe ahead of Mr. Youngkin 50% to 41% among likely voters.
Mr. Herring leads Mr. Miyares 53% to 41% with 6% of likely voters undecided.
The survey was a shift from other polling in recent months that showed the race at a tighter margin.
The new poll was conducted among 800 Virginia registered voters who are likely to vote in the general election and carried a margin of error of +/- 3.6%.
Election Day is Nov. 2.