Home 2019 Elections One-Stop Shopping: Virginia General Assembly 2019 Races We Need to Pay Attention...

One-Stop Shopping: Virginia General Assembly 2019 Races We Need to Pay Attention To

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Back in 2017, I did several posts where I tried to bring a bunch of information about House of Delegates races together in one place, and also to rank the districts in descending order of likelihood Democrats have of winning the district. Looking back on my 10/1/17 rankings, in hindsight they look very solid, with only three Dems out of the 18 on the list who ended up losing (Donte Tanner, whose race I ranked #10, ended up very narrowly losing to Del. Tim Hugo in HD40; Shelly Simonds, whose race I ranked #16, ended up in a tie, then lost in a drawing of names from a ceramic bowl; and Willie Randall, whose race I ranked #18, lost to Del. Rob Bloxom in HD100). Anyway, this was a popular post, probably because it provided a sort of “one-stop shopping” for folks to get some information, at a glance, about the top races in Virginia that year.

And so, by popular request, here’s my list for 2019 Virginia State Senate and House of Delegates races, this time in categories based on: 1) Democratic State Senate incumbents whose seats we need to hold on to; 2) Democratic House of Delegates incumbents whose seats we need to hold on to; 3) Democratic State Senate challengers who stand a decent or better shot at defeating a Republican incumbent; 4) Democratic House of Delegates challengers who stand a decent or better shot at defeating a Republican incumbent. Note that I’m referencing the 9/2 analysis by Chaz Nuttycombe and Ben ‘Not Larry Sabato” Tribbett, which in fairness is several weeks old now. Also note that I’m referencing the 2017 Ralph Northam vs. Ed Gillespie election results as a rough proxy for district lean, because: a) that election was after Trump took office, shifting the political landscape and energizing the Democratic “resistance”; b) that was a state, NOT federal, election, so it’s somewhat comparable – although clearly turnout’s higher in a gubernatorial election year! – to this year, whereas the mid-term election year of 2018 isn’t nearly as comparable. Finally, these are listed, within each category, in very roughly descending order of priority or concern, whatever the case may be. But I really wouldn’t focus on the order so much as on simply using the following as a handy, one-stop shopping list of 2019 Virginia General Assembly races we should pay attention to over the next 33 days. Hope this is helpful.

Democratic State Senate incumbents whose seats we need to hold

  • Good news here: no Democratic State Senate incumbents are seriously in danger of losing.

Democratic House of Delegates incumbents whose seats we need to hold

  • House District 10 (54%-45% Ralph Northam district): This 80% Loudoun/15% Frederick/5% Clarke district’s a must-hold for Democrats, with first-term Del. Wendy Gooditis up for her first reelection since the 2017 “blue wave,” and facing former Del. Randy Minchew, who she defeated narrowly (52%-48%) the last time around. In terms of money, the two candidates were about even as of 8/31, with Gooditis at $279 cash-on-hand and Minchew at $305k. The key here, as it is in many districts, is to minimize Democratic voter “dropoff” from the 2017 gubernatorial election. Given that Northam won this district by 9 points, if Dems show up to vote, we should win. If not, we could very well lose. Which would be very bad news for Democratic chances of taking control of the Virginia House of Delegates, of course. So let’s make sure Gooditis holds this seat! (note: Chaz has this one at “Tilt D” and Ben has it as “Slight-Lean Democratic”)
  • House District 51 (55%-44% Ralph Northam district): First-term Democratic incumbent Del. Hala Ayala is in a rematch with former Del. Rich Anderson (R), who she defeated in 2017 in this Prince William County district. Definitely a seat Democrats should, and must, hold this November 5. As of August 31, Ayala $268k cash-on-hand, about twice Anderson’s $138k. Chaz has this one as “Lean D” and Ben has it as “Slight-Lean Democratic.” I’d go with “Lean D” at this point. Go Hala Ayala!
  • House District 13 (57%-41% Ralph Northam): I’m putting this one on the list simply because I’ve heard that internal polling has shown first-term Del. Danica Roem (D) to be in a close race here. And, of course, Democrats have to hold their incumbents, including Roem. I personally think that Roem will defeat her Republican opponent, Kelly McGinn, for several reasons: 1) the PW County/Manassas Park City district leans heavily Democratic, with the 16-point Northam win as well as a 26-point Kaine win last November; 2) Danica Roem is a very strong candidate; 3) Kelly McGinn doesn’t seem particularly strong; 4) in terms of cash-on-hand, Roem had $171k as of 8/31, nearly three times as much as McGinn, who had just $64k.  Still, let’s take nothing for granted here and make absolutely sure that Del. Roem is reelected! Chaz has this one as “Lean D” and Ben as “Slight-Lean Democratic.” I’d go with “Lean D,” personally.
  • House District 21 (56%-42% Ralph Northam district): First-term Democratic Del. Kelly Fowler (D) is being challenged by Republican Shannon Kane in this strongly blue-leaning district in Virginia Beach (91%) and Cheseapeake City (9%). As of 8/31, Fowler had $150k cash-on-hand, while Kane only had $47k. So, bottom line, Fowler should hold on to this seat and really must do so for Democrats to have any chance of taking back the House of Delegates majority. Let’s just make sure of that – as with all of our incumbents, whose reelection is a top priority. Chaz and Ben both have this one as “Lean D.” I agree.
  • House District 85 (57%-41% Ralph Northam district): This Virginia Beach district is an open seat, after first-term Del. Cheryl Turpin (D) opted to run for State Senate instead of reelection to the House of Delegates. The candidates here are Democrat Alex Askew and Republican Rocky Holcomb. In the money race, Askew had $179k at the end of August, while Holcomb had just $68k. That’s good news. Also note that Tim Kaine won this district by 16 points last November. So, Democrats should definitely be able to hold this seat. And we really need to, if we want to take back control of the House of Delegates. Note that Chaz has this one at “Tilt D” and Ben has it as “Tossup.” I’d go with “Tilt D” on this one.
  • House District 73 (53%-45% Ralph Northam district): This Henrico County district is also an open seat, after first-term Del. Debra Rodman (D) announced that she was running for State Senate instead of reelection to the House of Delegates.  The candidates here are Democrat Rodney Willett and Republican Mary Margaret Kastelberg. Democrats really need to hold this one, and it’s certainly winnable – as long as Willett has the resources he needs to compete and Democrats turn out in solid numbers. Note that Willett had $175k cash on hand as of August 31, while Kastelberg only had $68k. Chaz rates this one as “Tilt D” and Ben has it as “Tossup.” I’d go with “Tilt D.” The bottom line is that Democrats can hold this seat, and really need to if we are going to get to a majority in the House of Delegates.
  • House District 68 (56%-43% Ralph Northam district): First-term Democratic Del. Dawn Adams is facing Republican Garrison Coward in a Chesterfield County/Richmond City/Henrico County district that went for Northam by 13 points in 2017 and Kaine by 24 points in 2018. In terms of cash-on-hand, Adams had $236k as of 8/31, while Coward had only $24k. Chaz and Ben both have this one as “Toss-Up.” I’d say it leans Democratic.
  • House District 50 (58%-41% Ralph Northam district): First-term Del. Lee Carter should be ok in this solidly “blue” district in Prince William County (56%) and Manassas City (44%). But let’s take no chances, because again, we need to hold our incumbent seats as a top priority. Also, I’d note that if Carter is losing, then Democrats are probably having a very bad night on November 5. Note that Carter and his Republican opponent, Ian Lovejoy, had about the same cash-on-hand as of 8/31. Chaz has this one as “Lean D” and Ben has it as “Tossup.” I’d go with “Lean D.”
  • I’m not particularly concerned about the reelection chances of Democratic Delegates Schuyler VanValkenburg, Mike Mullin Elizabeth Guzman, or Roslyn Tyler, but let’s just make sure that there are no surprises in these districts!

Democratic State Senate challengers who stand a decent or better shot at defeating a Republican incumbent

  • Senate District 10 (57%-42% Ralph Northam district): This Richmond/Chesterfield/Powhatan district is the most Democratic State Senate district (in addition to Northam’s 15-point win in 2017, Tim Kaine won it by 24 points last year) currently held by a Republican. It’s also clearly the type of urban/suburban district – where issues like transportation, schools, gun violence, healthcare and the climate crisis are high priorities, and of course outrage at Trump – which Democrats have been winning the past couple years, since the Misogynist and Sexual Predator in Chief took office. So clearly, Democrats can and must take back this seat. Fortunately, Dems have a great candidate in Ghazala Hashmi, and hopefully her victory on election will take Senate Democrats to 21 seats and the majority. As of August 31, Hashmi had $302k, compared to Sturtevant’s $353k, so those numbers were pretty close, with a slight edge to Sturtevant. Both Chaz and Ben have this one as “Lean D.” I agree. Go Ghazala!
  • Senate District 13 (55%-44% Ralph Northam district): With incumbent Sen. Dick Black (R) stepping down, with this Loudoun/Prince William County district having gone for Ralph Northam by 11 points (and for Tim Kaine by 18 points), with a strong Democratic candidate in Del. John Bell, and with a far-right/extreme Republican nominee in Geary Higgins, this one is practically a certain pickup for Democrats (if not, Dems will be having a HORRIBLE election night). John Bell, by the way, had far more cash-on-hand than Higgins ($303k-$123k) as of August 31. This is also a district that Democrats absolutely HAVE TO WIN – and are strongly favored to win – to have a shot at taking back State Senate control this November 5. Chaz Nuttycombe has it at “Likely D” and Ben Tribbett has it at “Lean D.” I’d go with “Likely D.” Gotta win this one.
  • Senate District 12 (52%-47% Ralph Northam district): Democrat Debra Rodman against incumbent Republican Sen. Siobhan Dunnavant. As of 8/31, Rodman had around $200k more cash-on-hand than Dunnavant, which bodes well for her in this blue-tilting district in Henrico County (92%) and Hanover County (8%). Chaz has this one as “Tilt D” and Ben has it as “Tilt R.” I’ll compromise and go with “Tossup.” Would love love love to see Rodman win this, as she’s a great person, strong Democrat, and infinitely better than Dunnavant.
  • Senate District 7 (54%-45% Ralph Northam district): Democrat Cheryl Turpin opted out of running for reelection to the House of Delegates to run for this blue-leaning open State Senate seat in Virginia Beach (96%) and Norfolk City (4%).  As of 8/31, Turpin had $260k cash-on-hand, about the same as her Republican opponent, Jen Kiggans. This is one that Democrats can win, and really have to win if we want a comfortable State Senate majority. Chaz has this one as”Lean D” and Ben has it as “Tilt R.” I’ll compromise again and go with “Tossup,” and am strongly rooting for Turpin to win this open seat!
  • Senate District 8 (50%-49% Ralph Northam district): Democrat Missy Cotter Smasal takes on incumbent Republican Sen. Bill DeSteph in this “purple” district. As of 8/31, Smasal had a bit more cash-on-hand than DeSteph. More broadly, Smasal is an excellent fit for this 100% Virginia Beach district and certainly has a shot at winning. If she does, that means Democrats are most likely having a very strong election night. Chaz has this one as “Tilt R” and Ben has it as “Likely R.” I’d go with “Tilt R” on this one, but would be thrilled to see anti-Muslim bigot, Bill “Rub Me Lamp” DeSteph go down to defeat on November 5th!
  • Senate District 17 (50%-49% Ed Gillespie district): If Democrat Amy Laufer is beating incumbent Republican Sen. Bryce Reeves on November 5 in this purple district (Spotsylvania, Orange, Albemarle, Louisa, Culpeper counties plus Fredericksburg), it means that Democrats are likely going to take back the State Senate by several seats. Chaz has this one as “Tilt R” and Ben has it as “Likely R.” I’d go with “Lean R,” but obviously would love to see Laufer knock out right wingnut Reeves.
  • Senate District 11 (53%-46% Ed Gillespie district): The battle of the “Amandas” – incumbent Republican Sen. Amanda Chase, who has said and done a gazillion crazy/extreme/offensive things and RICHLY deserves to lose, and Democrat Amanda Pohl, who is a strong candidate with more cash-on-hand than Chase as of 8/31. Still, as much as Chase totally deserves to lose, the Republican district lean here (86% Chesterfield County, plus 8% Colonial Heights and 6% Amelia County) means that if Pohl is winning, that means that Democrats are having a very good night. Chaz has this one as “Tilt R” (he updated SD11 on 9/30, after Chase was kicked out of the party by the Chesterfield GOP) and Ben has it as “Lean R.” I’d go with “Lean R.”
  • One more of interest, if Democrats are having a really good night on November 5th, is: Democrat Qasim Rashid vs. Republican Sen. Richard Stuart in SD28 (54% Gillespie district; Stafford, Prince William, King George, Spotsylvania, Westmoreland)

Democratic House of Delegates challengers who stand a decent or better shot at defeating a Republican incumbent

  • House District 40 (55%-44% Ralph Northam district): Democrat Dan Helmer is running against long-time incumbent Del. Tim Hugo (R), who is the last Republican delegate standing in Northern Virginia, in this Fairfax/Prince William Counties district. this one’s definitely winnable. Note that Hugo had more money than Helmer as of August 31 ($449k-$329k), but that Helmer certainly has enough money to compete effectively. Chaz has this one as “Toss-Up” and Ben has it as “Leaning Republican.” I’d go with “Tossup.” Let’s win this thing, both because Helmer’s great AND because Hugo is godawful!
  • House District 28 (51%-48% Ralph Northam): Another district that appears to be getting “bluer,” with Tim Kaine winning last November by 12 points (55%-43%). As for the candidates, Democrat Josh Cole barely lost in 2017, by a 50.08%-49.73% margin (just 82 votes out of more than 23,000 cast). This time around, Cole is facing a right-wing “Tea Party”-style Republican in Paul Milde.  In terms of money, Cole had $259k cash-on-hand at the end of August, while Milde had only $15k. So right now, this Stafford County/Fredericksburg district’s probably a toss-up or possibly even a slight lean towards Cole. If Democrats win in HD28, it means we’re almost certainly having a good night across Virginia. Chaz and Ben both have this one as “Toss-Up.” If anything, I’m a bit more optimistic, maybe “Tilt D.” Keep a close eye on this race and do what you can to help Josh Cole win!
  • House District 76 (60%-39% Ralph Northam):  Another one of the most powerful Republicans in the House of Delegates, Del. Chris Jones, is in danger of losing his seat to Democrat Clint Jenkins. One big advantage for Jones is money – he’s got tons of it (around 10 times as much as Jones as of August 31). On the other hand, this Suffolk/Chesapeake district is now VERY “blue,” post-“unpacking,” with Northam having won it by 21 points in 2017 and Kaine by 25 points in 2018. So basically, if Democrats turn out there, Jenkins can win, even in spite of the cash-on-hand gap.  Chaz has this one as “Tilt D” and Ben as “Tossup.” I’d go with “Tossup.” This would be a huge race for Democrats to win, but of course we’ll require a TON of money and volunteer support. Let’s make it so!
  • House District 94 (60%-39% Ralph Northam district): This Newport News district is currently held by Del. David Yancey (R), who defeated Democrat Shelly Simonds in 2017 after a tie was broken by pulling his name out of a ceramic bowl. This time around, Simonds should win outright, given that the district moved significantly in the Democratic direction after the courts ruled that the Republicans’ racial “packing” were illegal. So now, it’s an overwhelmingly “blue” district – Northam by 21 points in 2017 and Tim Kaine by 28 points last November. Also note that Simonds had $346k cash on hand as of 8/31, around $50 more than Yancey’s $291k. Democrats should, and must, win this seat. Chaz has this one as “Likely D” and Ben has it as “Lean D.” I’d go with “Likely D.”  Let’s seal the deal on this one – no more ceramic bowls and absolutely no more ties!
  • House District 91 (54%-45% Ralph Northam district): If we’re having a good or even decent night on November 5, we should definitely be winning this Hampton/Poquoson/York County district, given the district lean and strength of the Democratic candidate, Martha Mugler. For instance, note that Mugler had 14 times (!) the cash on hand of her Republican opponent, Rocky Holcomb, as of August 31. If we’re not winning this district, then we’re probably not having a good night. Chaz has this one as “Lean D” and Ben has it as “Slight-Lean Democratic.” I’d go with “Lean D.”
  • House District 27 (51%-48% Ralph Northam): Democratic nominee Larry Barnett came within 0.4 percentage points (129 votes out nearly 29,000 cast) of defeating Del. Roxann Robinson (R) in this increasingly “blue” (went for Tim Kaine last November by 10 points) Chesterfield County district. We’ll see how it goes this time around, but one good sign is that Barnett had $250k cash-on-hand at the end of August, compared to just $163k for Robinson. Barnett also far outraised Robinson in July and August. So…cautiously optimistic about Democrats winning this district. If so, it almost certainly means a good night for the “blue team.” Chaz has this one as “Toss-Up” and Ben has it as “Likely R.” I’d go with “Toss-Up” on this one. Go Larry Barnett!
  • House District 66 (52%-47% Ralph Northam): This has been Speaker Kirk Cox (R)’s district for nearly 30 years, but that might now be changing. For starters, this Chesterfield/Colonial Heights district became MUCH less “red” when the courts ruled that it was illegally “packed” by Republicans on a racial basis. Now, post-“unpacking,” HD66 is a district which Ralph Northam won by 5 points in 2017 and Tim Kaine by 14 points last November.  Making matters even more worrisome for Kirk Cox is that Democrats have a very strong candidate in Sheila Bynum-Coleman (for more about her, see here).  Finally, note that while Cox had more cash-on-hand ($590k as of August 31) than Bynum-Coleman, the Democratic nominee had a solid total of $341k as of August 31, with more help presumably on the way. No wonder why Chaz has this one as “Toss-Up” (Ben has it as “Lean GOP”). I’ll compromise and go with “Tilt R.” But yeah, this would be an amazing race to win…Sheila Bynum-Coleman knocking off the Speaker of the House would be a major “wow!” and a huge morale boost going into 2020!
  • House District 100 (53%-46% Ralph Northam district): Democrat Phil Hernandez is taking on incumbent Republican Del. Rob Bloxom in this Accomack and Northampton Counties + Norfolk City district.  Hernandez is a very impressive candidate, including in terms of fundraising – he had $245k cash-on-hand at the end of August, FAR surpassing Bloxom’s relatively paltry $66k. So overall, I’d say this one’s a tough but definitely winnable district for the Democrats. Chaz has this one as “Tilt R” and Ben has it as “Lean R.” I’d go with “Tilt R” at this point.
  • House District 84 (52%-47% Ralph Northam): This is also a tough but potentially winnable Virginia Beach district for Democrat Karen Mallard over incumbent Republican Del. Glenn Davis, given the district’s “blue” leanings (Northam won it by 5 points, Kaine by 10 points). Also note that Mallard had $180k at the end of August, more than Davis’ $122k. So, we’ll see, but Mallard certainly *could* win this one. If she does, it probably means that Democrats are having a good night in general.  Chaz has this one as “Lean R” and Ben has it as “Likely R.” I’d go with “Lean R.” Go Karen Mallard!
  • House District 83 (55%-41% Ralph Northam): Incumbent Republican Del. Chris Stolle is popular by all accounts, but he’s also in a Virginia Beach/Norfolk district which Northam won by 14 points and which Tim Kaine won by 17 points last November. Stolle also has a strong Democratic opponent, in Nancy Guy, who had nearly three times Stolle’s cash-on-hand as of August 31. So, personally, I see this one as a great chance for a Democratic pickup. Chaz has this one as “Toss-Up” and Ben as “Lean R.” I’d go with “Lean R” as well. Go Nancy Guy!
  • There are impressive Democratic candidates running in numerous “red” districts. For instance: Democrat Jess Foster vs. Republican Del. Mark Cole in HD88 (54% Gillespie district; Stafford, Spotsylvania, Fredericksburg City, Fauquier); Democrat Len Myers vs. Republican Del. Barry Knight in HD81 (52% Northam, but also 51%-43% Trump; Virginia Beach, Chesapeake); Laura Galante in HD18 (60% Gillespie; Fauquier, Warren, Culpeper, Rappahannock); etc. If Democrats are winning these districts on November 5, that means it’s going to be an incredible “blue tidal wave” night.

P.S. Also keep an eye on some key local races. For instance (note: this list is NOT comprehensive, as there are a ton of important local races), check out the Prince William County and Loudoun County Board Chair races (Democrats Ann Wheeler and Phyllis Randall, respectively); as well as the district Supervisors races, Commonwealth’s Attorney races (Amy Ashworth and Buta Biberaj, respectively), School Board and Sheriff (Josh King and Justin Hannah, respectively) races in both those counties. Also keep an eye on the Fairfax County Board race in Springfield district, between Republican incumbent Pat Herrity and Democratic challenger Linda Sperling; the Fairfax County School Board race in Springfield district (Democrat Laura Jane Cohen vs. far-right Republican incumbent Elizabeth Schultz); the Commonwealth’s Attorney race in Henrico County (Democrat Shannon Taylor); the Chesterfield County Commonwealth’s Attorney race (Democrat Scott Miles); etc.