Home Virginia Politics Only 17% of Incumbent Republican Delegates Being Challenged by Dems; Senate Even...

Only 17% of Incumbent Republican Delegates Being Challenged by Dems; Senate Even Worse


About 2 months ago, I posted here about the fact that – as Mason Conservative first notedonly 15% of Virginia House of Delegates seats were being contested between a Republican and a Democrat. As I wrote at the time, this sucks on so many levels it’s hard to know where to start. As a progressive, it sucks. As a Democrat, it sucks. As a citizen who believes that our Democracy depends on competitive elections, it sucks.

Anyway, I was wondering how this suckiness has progressed (or regressed?) since June 19th. Courtesy of VPAP, here’s the sad story:

*We’re up to the whopping total of 23 contested House of Delegates races (out of 100) between a Democrat and a Republican. That’s 23% total contested races now, compared to 15% in mid-June. Yipee.

*However, I count only 9 Republican incumbents (out of 52) being challenged by a Democrat. Those would be: Vern Presley (D) vs. Del. Will Morefield (R) in the 3rd; Ward Armstrong (D; redistricted out) vs. Del. Charles Poindexter (R) in the 9th; Carl Genthner (D) vs. Del. “Sidedshow” Bob Marshall (R) in the 13th; Laura Kleiner (D) vs. Del. Dickie Bell (R) in the 20th; Adrianne Bennett (D) vs. Del. Ron Villanueva (R) in the 21st; Roy Coffey (D) vs. Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R) in the 31st; Pamela Danner (D) vs. Del. Barbara Comstock (R) in the 34th; Jack Dobbyn (D) vs. Del. Dave “Abuser Fees” Albo (R) in the 42nd; and Eric Clingan (D) vs. Del. Jim LeMunyon (R) in the 67th.

*UPDATE: Also note that there are several contested races between non-incumbents (e.g., House districts 2, 10, 12, 19, 87 and 98; Senate districts 13, 22, 30 and 31). However, this doesn’t change the percentage of contested races between a Republican and a Democrat, nor does it really change the overall conclusion. In the case of the Senate, the 30th and 31st are both solid Democratic districts, where Democratic incumbents are retiring, and where Republicans are challenging. In the 13th, I’m hopeful for Shawn Mitchell, especially if a loony-tunes Republican like Dick Black is that party’s nominee. See the comments section for thoughts from Isaac Sarver in particular, on the 2nd, 10th and 12th House of Delegates districts.

See the “flip” for more

*Bottom line: only 23% of Virginia House of Delegates districts currently have a contested race between a Republican and a Democrat, while only 17% of incumbent Republican delegates are being challenged by a Democrat.

*In talking to Democrats “in the know,” the consensus seems to be that Democrats are likely to lose a number of seats this November, from the current 39 Democratic delegates to perhaps the low-to-mid 30s.

*Also, in talking to Democrats “in the know,” the blame for this situation goes in a number of directions (in no particular order): 1) the DPVA and its “leader,” Brian Moran (what on earth is he doing, other than ripping off kids in his job as for-profit scam “colleges” chair? hello?!?); 2) the House Democratic caucus (formerly led by Matt Mansell, who left late last year); and 3) a horrible Republican redistricting/gerrymander that basically killed Democrats’ chances in the Virginia House of Delegates for the next decade.

So, that’s where we’re at right now in the House of Delegates. In the State Senate, I count 22 contested races out of 40 total Senate districts (55%) between a Republican and a Democrat. That sounds pretty good, except that 16 of those races have a Republican running against an incumbent Democrat. That compares to just 2 – count’em, TWO! – races in which a Democrat is running against an incumbent Republican (David Bernard vs. Sen. John Watkins in the 10th; Shaun Broy vs. Sen. Jill Vogel in the 27th). That’s a 13% challenge rate for Democrats against incumbent Republican Senators.

Needless to say, this is not good news, as we attempt to defend our narrow, 22-18 majority in the State Senate. Sigh…

  • DanielK

    Although it’s funny (well not really) that there are many Republicans who will get a free pass and in turn be able to divert their money to other Republican incumbents or even challengers in such an important year and we can’t even field any candidates?  Is the Democratic field of potential candidates that limited?  Seriously….

    As you noted yesterday there is now a primary challenge to Tim Kaine from someone who we really know nothing about to include any experience or involvement in Democratic politics in Virginia….Hell, from what I’ve read I’ve been more involved in the Virginia Democratic Party than she has as a volunteer and through my union.  But we have over 80% of the incumbent Republican House being given a free pass?  

    In my opinion, for what it’s worth, getting candidates into races helps get volunteers and voters to the polls which in turn can help other races in their jurisdictions i.e. Fairfax where the Board of Supervisors and Sheriff will be on the ballot.  All very important races in their own right and level.  And again, it keeps those incumbents from funneling their money to other races since they don’t need to spend it on themselves.  

  • Teddy Goodson

    is the guiding principle of the DPVA, or so it seems. The rationale appears to be that we must husband scarce resources for clearly winnable slots just to defend what we have, or we will lose everything if we squander our resources widely.

    Besides, why would anybody undertake to run against a very well-funded, sure-to-be-vicious Republican when they get no support, training, guidance, or help from the DPVA? Those who do screw up their courage to make a run are on their own, learning how to campaign, how to raise money, how to make a compellig stump speech, how to GOTV—- it’s a sort of desperate on-the-job-training. No wonder, after floundering around and losing, they refuse to come back again and make another run; their experience discourages any one else from running in the future. It’s a vicious circle, and it’s getting worse thanks to the almost unlimited corporate funds which can be (and are being) poured anonymously into campaigns on every level to help Republican/corporotist candidates. We are seeing Political Darwinsim in action.

  • Johnny Longtorso

    The Virginia Beach Democratic Party is having a caucus which will probably end up nominating Bill Fleming again, and their announcement says that candidates have to pay $4,000 to file for the nomination. That seems like a ludicrous amount of money just to put someone on the ballot in a heavily-Republican district. Is this typical elsewhere in Virginia? That may be one reason why nobody’s stepping up to run, if the price of admission alone is that high.

  • Sarah Williams

    We have many Democrats who are qualified in every way for these races, but the decision to run is difficult. The dollar cost of a campaign is daunting, particularly with the expectation that Citizens United allows anonymous out-of-state donors to fund elections, and these will fund the GOP/TP candidates. In addition to being expensive, a campaign is hard on families. Recruitment of potential candidates should be always on-going, and should consider spouses and families and include them all along the way. This year we seemed not to notice that an election was coming until the first of August, so our candidates will be playing catch-up to campaigns by the GOP/TP that have been already months in planning and in our neck of the woods already have yard signs on display.

  • We all know the answer to that question.  The DPVA and their chairman are absent — taking care of their day jobs and sipping white wine in Arlington.

  • blue bronc

    the state party chair. No one else. No party chair – no recruiting and no success.

  • Elaine in Roanoke

    Lacey Putney, a Republican pretending to be an independent, is being challenged by Lewis Medlin, who owns a business in Bedford County.

  • kindler

    …fighting to maintain that status.

    Isn’t there anyone in the state with the vision to inspire the party and the Commonwealth to unite our base and expand beyond it?  Give candidates a reason to run and people a reason to support them.  We’re pretty far from that point right now.