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Trump effect the top question in Virginia's key elections

FILE -In this Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019, file photo, state Sen. Glen H. Sturtevant, R-Richmond, presents his resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, to the members of the Virginia Senate at the State Capitol in Richmond, Va. Voters unhappy with the Republican president, particularly in suburban areas, powered historic Democratic gains in the state House two years ago. Last year the same energy helped Virginia Democrats knock out three incumbent members of Congress. GOP lawmakers have accused Democrats of trying to use a mass shooting earlier this year in Virginia Beach to pass strict new gun-control laws. A special session on gun control abruptly shut down shortly after it opened earlier this month. “Do we want Virginia to turn into California or New York?” Sturtevant asked in a recent email to supporters. His suburban Richmond district is a top target of Democrats. (Bob Brown/Richmond Times-Dispatch via AP, File)

RICHMOND, Va. — One key question hovers over this year’s closely watched Virginia legislative elections: Has the Trump effect that helped Democrats two years ago worn off?

Voters unhappy with the Republican president, particularly in suburban areas, powered historic Democratic gains in 2017.

Republicans are cautiously optimistic the president will have less of an impact on voters this year. But Democrats say Trump remains deeply unpopular, and there are clear signs they have the advantage going into Election Day.

Yet the Democrats have their own headaches, after a series of political scandals.

Virginia’s legislative elections are high stakes. Just four states are having elections this year and Virginia is the only one where Democrats have a chance of flipping control of the statehouse. Republicans currently have a majority in both chambers.

By Alan Suderman, The Associated Press