This coming Tuesday, Virginians will vote in Democratic and Republican primaries. Turnout historically has been extremely low oin these “off-odd” election years, which is crazy, as in many “deep-red” and “deep-blue” districts, the primary is basically the “ballgame” right there.
For instance, in “deep-blue” (81% for Tim Kaine in 2018) HD57 (Charlottesville City, Albermarle County), whoever wins the Democratic primary – Sally Hudson, who I have endorsed, or Kathy Galvin – is basically 100% certain to be elected in November. On the Republican side, same thing in deep-red (62% for Corey Stewart in 2018) SD24 (Augusta County, Rockingham County, Staunton City, Culpeper County, Waynesboro City, Greene County, Madison County), where the winner of the primary between Senator Emmett Hanger and faaaar-right challenger Tina Freitas will almost certainly win in November. Similarly, in solidly blue Fairfax County, whichever candidate win the Democratic nominations for County Board are highly likely, if not certain, to win in the general election. There are tons of examples of this, but you get the picture.
Of course, there also are a bunch of competitive districts as well, places which will get the vast majority of money and attention from June 12 through November 5. Which raises the question: after Primary Day this coming Tuesday, what should be high priorities for Virginia Democrats? Here are a bunch that we should definitely be focused on after June 11.
- To take back the House of Delegates, Virginia Democrats will first need to protect potentially vulnerable incumbents. In particular, there should be and will be a lot of resources put into helping first-term Del. Wendy Gooditis (HD10) hold her seat against former Del. Randy Minchew (R), who is trying to make a comeback. House Democrats also need to defend the seats currently held by Del. Cheryl Turpin (D-HD85) and Del. Debra Rodman (D-HD73), both of whom won their seats in November 2017, but are now vacating those seats in order to run for State Senate. The candidates we’ll need to support are Alex Askew in HD85 and Rodney Willett in HD73. If we can hold those three seats, we should have a very good chance at taking back the House of Delegates this November.
- Just to be sure, we should work to lock down potentially vulnerable – although relatively safe – Democratic freshmen incumbent seats like HD50 (Del. Lee Carter), HD51 (Del. Hala Ayala), HD21 (Del. Kelly Fowler), HD31 (Del. Elizabeth Guzman), HD68 (Del. Dawn Adams), and HD72 (Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg).
- Then, to actually take back the House of Delegates, we’ll need to pick up two seats (or even better, more than two). Key Republican-held seats that Democrats should be focused on are HD76 (Republican Del. Chris Jones vs. Democrat Clinton Jenkins, in a district which Ralph Northam won with 60% of the vote in 2017); HD94 (Republican Del. David Yancey vs. Democrat Shelly Simonds, who lost when Yancey’s name was drawn from a bowl after the 2017 election ended in a tie); HD91 (open seat/54% Northam district, with Republican Colleen Holcomb facing off against either Democratic nominee Martha Mugler or Michael Wade, depending on who wins the nomination Tuesday); HD40 (Republican Del. Tim Hugo faces Democratic nominee Dan Helmer in a district where Ralph Northam got 55% of the vote in 2017 and Tim Kaine got 59% of the vote in 2018); HD28 (Democratic nominee Joshua Cole faces off against either Republican Del. Bob Thomas or Republican Paul Milde, in this 51% Northam/55% Kaine district); HD83 (Republican Del. Chris Stolle is up against Democrat Nancy Guy, in a 55% Northam/57% Kaine district); HD100 (Democrat Phil Hernandez takes on Republican Del. Rob Bloxom in a 53% Northam/54% Kaine district); HD66 (Democrat Sheila Bynum-Coleman goes up against a giant, Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox, in a 52% Northam/56% Kaine district); HD27 (Democrat Larry Barnett takes on Republican Del. Roxann Robinson in a 51% Northam/54% Kaine district); HD84 (Democrat Karen Mallard goes up against Republican Del. Glenn Davis in a 52% Northam/54% Kaine district); and maybe a few others.
- To take back the State Senate, all our incumbents should be safe, so Democrats just need to pick up one seat to get to 20-20 and two seats to get to 21-19. Or heck, even better, we could pick up more than two seats and get to 22-18, 23-17, etc. Key races here are SD13 (Democratic nominee John Bell takes on either Republican Ron Meyer or Geary Higgins, in an open seat won by Ralph Northam with 55% in 2017 and by Tim Kaine with 58% in 2018); SD10 (Republican incumbent Sen. Glen Sturtevant takes on Democrat Ghazala Hashmi, Eileen Bedell or Zachary Brown in this 57% Northam/61% Kaine district); SD7 (Republican Jen Kiggans or Republican Carolyn Weems will take on Democratic nominee Cheryl Turpin, Kim Howard or Susan Hippen, in an open seat that went 54% for Ralph Northam in 2017 and 56% for Tim Kaine in 2018); SD12 (Republican Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant takes on either Democrat Debra Rodman or Veena Lothe in this 52% Northam/57% Kaine district).
- As added bonuses for State Senate…SD8 (Democrat Missy Cotter Smasal vs. Republican Sen. Bill DeSteph in a 50% Northam/52% Kaine district); SD11 (Republican Sen. Amanda Chase takes on either Democrat Amanda Pohl or Wayne Powell in this 46% Northam/50% Kaine seat); and SD17 (Republican Sen. Bryce Reeves or Republican Rich Breeden will take on either Democrat Amy Laufer or Ben Hixon in this 49% Northam/52% Kaine seat) would be sweet.
- On the county level, there are highly competitive and important races in Northern Virginia for the Prince William County, Loudoun County and Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and School Board. A few to really focus resources on include: defending Loudoun County Board Chair Phyllis Randall (D) against a strong/well-funded challenge by former Virginia GOP Chair John Whitbeck, and hopefully picking up a few Loudoun County Board seats (e.g., Sylvia Glass vs. Republican Jim Bonfils in Broad Run district, Democrat Forest Hayes vs. Republican Caleb Kershner in Catoctin district and Democrat Tia Walbridge vs. incumbent Republican Supervisor Tony Buffington in the Blue Ridge district) plus the Commonwealth’s Attorney position (go Democrat Buta Biberaj!); winning the Prince William County Board Chair race, where Democratic nominee Ann Wheeler takes on far-right Republican nominee John Gray, with Democrats hoping to pick up seats in Potomac (Democrat Andrea Bailey vs. Republican Doug Taggart); Occoquan (either Kenny Boddye or Aaron Edmond vs. Republican incumbent Supervisor Ruth Anderson), Coles District (Democrat Raheel Sheikh or LT Pridgen vs. Republican Yesli Vega in this open seat) and possibly even Brentsville District (Democrat Maggie Hansford vs. incumbent Republican Supervisor Jeanine Lawson); holding the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office in Democratic hands (Amy Ashworth or Tracey Lenox will face Republican Mike May this fall); picking up most or all of the remaining Republican-held seats in Fairfax County, including Republican incumbent Supervisor Pat Herrity vs. Democrat Linda Sperling in Springfield District and Republican incumbent School Board members far-right Elizabeth Shultz vs. Democrat Laura Jane Cohen and Independent Kyle McDaniel in Springfield District, also Democrat Stella Pekarsky vs. Republican incumbent Thomas Wilson in Sully District.
- In Henrico County, which has become increasingly “blue” (e.g., Northam won it 70k-44k in 2017), Democrats hope to pick up the Tuckahoe Supervisor’s seat, which has voted Democratic in recent statewide elections, with nominee Marques Jones taking on Republican incumbent Supervisor Pat O’Bannon. If Democrats win this seat, they will take a 3-2 majority on the Henrico County Board of Supervisors.
- In Chesterfield County, which has moved from “red” to “purple,” the Chesterfield Observer reported this week that “energized Democrats [are] pushing for a majority on the Board of Supervisors and Republicans trying to maintain their status as the county’s dominant political force.” One key race is in Midlothian District, where Republican-turned-Democrat Javaid Siddiqi (who served as Virginia Secretary of Education under Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell) and Democrat Marty Mooradian are fighting for the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Board Chair Leslie Haley in November. According to the Chesterfield Observer, “Knocking off Haley, chairwoman of the Board of Supervisors and one of two incumbent Republicans seeking re-election, would be a major coup for the Democrats,” as “some now see the district as up for grabs,” although the “last Democrat supervisor candidate to win Midlothian was Ed Barber, who was elected in 1991 and won re-election three times.” Also in Chesterfield County, let’s not forget Scott Miles’ reelection campaign for Commonwealth’s Attorney there.
I’m sure I missed some races – let me know in the comments section – but these are some big ones we’ll definitely want to be focusing on in coming months.