Home 2019 Elections FWIW Virginia: What Went Down at Jamestown

FWIW Virginia: What Went Down at Jamestown

Great response by Sheila Bynum-Coleman to Kirk Cox. Also, Spotlight: HD 42 - Kathy Tran (D) v. Steve Adragna (R)


From FWIW Virginia:

President Trump’s speech at the 400th anniversary of America’s first legislative assembly in Jamestown went viral, but probably not for the reasons he was hoping for. Democratic Del. Ibraheem Samirah’s protest during Trump’s speech shocked observers, and both Democrats and Republicans tried to capitalize on the moment.

How did Democrats and Republicans leverage organic and paid social media around the President’s visit and Samirah’s protest? We take a look in this week’s edition of FWIW Virginia. But first…

2019 by the numbers

Here’s how Facebook spending by Republican and Democratic party committees and candidates in the most competitive districts compares since the primary election.

Here are the five biggest Facebook spenders in Virginia from July 23-29:

…and here’s some of the creative from the top Facebook spenders in Virginia this week. The Virginia House Democratic Caucus began its announced $90,000 digital campaign against Speaker Kirk Cox and Delegate Chris Jones, both of whom are running in new, left-leaning districts this year. The caucus launched a series of static ads to boost the name ID of their Democratic challengers and define Republican incumbents to their new constituents.


Days until the general election: 95

Deep Dive: What Went Down at Jamestown

This week, President Trump visited Jamestown to commemorate the 400th anniversary of America’s first legislative assembly. During his speech, Democratic Del. Ibraheem Samirah stood up holding a sign reading “Deport Hate,” “Reunite My Family,” and “Go Back to Your Corrupted Home.”

Samirah’s protest quickly spread online and his campaign was ready to conduct rapid response. After the President said the protester “didn’t look so good,” Samirah came back with a shareable response that re-emphasized his criticism of the President.

Other Democratic campaigns leveraged the viral moment by standing in solidarity with Samirah, including Sheila Bynum-Coleman, who is running against Speaker Kirk Cox. Despite running in a Democratic-leaning district, Cox decided to wrap his arms around Trump instead of standing up to him. After Cox tried to criticize Samirah over “common decency,” Coleman came back with a strong response.
Campaigns were also using the protest in their paid digital media. Samirah’s campaign started running a series of list-building ads around his protest. While the creative was the same across all of the ads, the geographic targeting varied – some targeted just Virginia, while others were targeted at acquiring new supporters and donors from bluer states like California and New York.
Meanwhile, GOP Delegate Nick Freitas, who apparently didn’t have the time to send in forms for his re-election bid and may be forced to run a write-in campaign, managed to find time to turn Samirah’s protest into a list building ad.
Spotlight: HD 42 – Kathy Tran (D) v. Steve Adragna (R)
For our district spotlight this week, we’re taking a look at HD 42, where first-term Del. Kathy Tran is facing GOP businessman Steve Adragna.

HD 42 voted for a popular GOP incumbent Delegate from 2003 to 2015 despite being a strongly Democratic district at the statewide level. The district voted for Clinton 58-37 in 2016 and gave all the statewide Democratic candidates at least 60% of the vote in 2017. After GOP Delegate Dave Albo retired, Democrat Kathy Tran managed to pick up his seat. After voting for Albo 63-37 in 2015, the district gave Tran 61% of the vote in 2017.

In a campaign press release, Adragna claimed his campaign was about “returning our district’s representation in the House back to the political center.” His paid ads, however, signal that he has no problem leaning into hard conservative positions to rile up his base. His campaign is running a series of list-building ads disingenuously accusing Kathy Tran of supporting abortion “up to the moment of birth” and that her re-election will ensure that “infanticide will become the law of the land.”

But sure, call yourself a moderate.


Adragna’s scare tactics still haven’t managed to raise him much money. As of his June 30 campaign filing, his campaign has only received 52 small-dollar contributions worth just ~$3,000 and only has $11,568 cash on hand – nowhere near enough to run a competitive race in an unfriendly district.

On the Democratic side, Kathy Tran’s campaign has been totally dark on paid Facebook ads in 2019, but she hasn’t needed list-building ads to raise money. As of the June 30 filing deadline, Tran has received over 1,000 small-dollar donations worth over $40,000 and has $155,341 cash on hand.

Thanks for reading and make sure to sign up for weekly updatesfollow us on Twitter and email us with ideas of what you’d like us to dive into next.

– The team at ACRONYM

P.S. Here’s a sign-up link for our national FWIW newsletter and you can find today’s issue here.


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