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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.