Home 2017 Races Quick Take on Upcoming Virginia Special Elections (UPDATED)

Quick Take on Upcoming Virginia Special Elections (UPDATED)


Due to the unexpected loss of the Clinton/Kaine ticket, we won’t be having as many – or as high profile – special elections in Virginia next year as we thought we’d be having. Still, there will be a few: 1) to fill the State Senate seat of Donald McEachin (D-9th district), who won election to the U.S. House of Representatives from the 4th CD (yay! some actual good news for a change!); 2) to fill the State Senate seat of Tom Garrett (R-22nd district), who unfortunately was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives; and 3) to fill the House of Delegates seat of Scott Taylor (R-85th district), who was (again unfortunately) elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Here’s my quick take on each contest.

  1. SD-9 (Henrico, Richmond City)is an overwhelmingly Democratic district — Mark Warner won it with 72% of the vote in 2014, for instance – and should be an EASY Democratic hold, especially with a superbly qualified candidate like Del. Jennifer McClellan running for it. I don’t believe any Republican is running against McClellan, but if they do, they will lose really, really badly on January 10, 2017.
  2. SD-22 (Lynchburg, Amherst County, Fluvanna County, Goochland County, etc.) is strongly “red” (e.g., Mark Obenshain got 60% of the vote there in 2013) and should be an easy hold for Republicans, unfortunately. Candidates there are Republicans Mark Peake (an attorney in Richmond) and Ken Peterson (a Supervisor in Goochland), Democrats Katie Cyphert (Lynchburg Democratic Committee Chair) and Ryant Washington (former Fluvanna County Sheriff, then special policy advisor for law enforcement for the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control). Not sure who will win either nominating contest, but again, this one’s going to be very tough for Democrats to win given the heavy “red” lean of the district (not that we shouldn’t try, of course). UPDATED: Sen. Scott Surovell reports – “Congratulations to former Fluvanna Sheriff Bryant Washington who is the Democratic Nominee in Senate District 22!” Also, according to the Farmville Herald, “Out of the 145 ballots cast during the caucus held at the Moton Museum in Farmville, Washington, a Buckingham County native, received 108 votes, while Lynchburg Democratic Party Chairwoman and educator Katie Webb Cyphert received 35.”  Finally, Peake won the GOP nomination.
  3. HD-85 (Virginia Beach) is a “purple” district where Barack Obama and Mitt Romney each received 49% of the vote, and where Ken Cuccinelli edged out Terry McAuliffe 48%-46%. So, this one is theoretically winnable for Democrats. Announced candidates are Democrat Cheryl Turpin (a public school teacher) and Republican Rocky Holcomb (a captain in the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office). It would be great for Democrats to turn out in droves on January 10 and pick up this seat.

    Farmville, VA – This afternoon, Democrats in Virginia’s 22nd Senate district selected their candidate ahead of the January 10, 2017 special elections. Ryant Washington was duly elected during a party-run assembled caucus in Farmville. Earlier this week, Delegate Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), who currently represents Virginia’s 71st House District, was the only candidate to file and thus became the Democratic nominee for Virginia’s 9th Senate District.

    Said Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Mamie Locke (D-Hampton), “Jennifer McClellan has been a tireless advocate for civil rights and for Virginia women, children, and families in the House, and a champion for common sense policies targeting smart growth in the greater Richmond region. Ryant Washington is a former Fluvanna County Sheriff who understands that education is the biggest economic development issue that we face. He knows that if we are going to keep growing our economy and attracting good paying jobs to our Commonwealth, we need to have a skilled, educated workforce. We look forward to working with Jennifer and Ryant over the next 37 days and to welcoming them both to the Senate when we gavel in on January 11th.”

    Said Delegate McClellan, “If elected to the State Senate, I will have an opportunity to build on my service in the House of Delegates to provide a high quality public education system for every child, strong and safe neighborhoods, and economic opportunity for all Virginians. I look forward to talking with voters across the district over the next 37 days, and to continuing my work moving Virginia forward in the Senate.”

    Said Sheriff Washington, “We need to focus on common sense policies that work for the 22nd Senate District, that do not overburden our localities. We need to acknowledge that education drives our economy: no company is going to move to our area if we don’t have a strong workforce. This is going to be my focus throughout this campaign and in the Virginia Senate.“

  • wwfleming

    Re HD-85 race and probably the others: Cheryl Turpin would do a much better job, but it depends on Democrats and progressives getting out the vote. Unfortunately, the DPVA has failed to provide support for House candidates, even if it would be essentially free. For example, they have refused to send out donor or GOTV emails to their VB and district email lists on behalf of Democratic House candidates; I know this is true for Virginia Beach candidates, and I gather it is true statewide.

    Sheriff “Rocky” Holcom seems to have been put up by VB Sheriff Ken Stolle of the Stolle family who has a large control of Republican power and the local Republican machine. He would likely do the bidding of the Republican/Stolle machine.