Political musical chairs are continuing in southwest Virginia as we gear up for the November elections. Hoping to eliminate the House Democratic leader and also mess with the possibility of his running for statewide office, House Republicans eliminated Ward Armstrong’s 10th District seat in their redistricting plan and created a new one to accommodate population growth in Loudoun County. So, Armstrong has officially announced that he will do what many have expected him to do. He’s moving to Bassett in the 9th District and will run against Republican incumbent Charles Poindexter.
The majority of the new 9th is made up of residents of Franklin County, where Poindexter once served on the Board of Supervisors. However, the rest of the 9th includes Patrick and Henry counties, which Armstrong once represented and where he already has roots. He and his wife will move to Bassett into a house they already own.
This race is shaping up to be one that may well go down to the wire. No one should underestimate Armstrong or the fact that he is one of the few Virginia politicians with a potent consumer issue. He has been willing to take on American Electric Power, which has sought and gotten four rate hikes in central and southwest Virginia in the past four years, resulting in a 70 percent increase in rates since 2005. Plus, AEP just filed with the SCC for yet another 9.6% rate increase.
I’ve seen Ward Armstrong in action as a campaigner. He will put in the hard work needed to run in a new district, and he will make good use of the fact that he is familiar to many of the voters there. Poindexter will hardly be a pushover, but the Republicans left Armstrong little choice but to find another way to remain in the General Assembly.
Armstrong made his announcement at the Ferrum Veneer Plant, where he worked during the summers as a high school and college student and where his father was once the plant manager.