Tomorrow, two weeks after the originally scheduled date due to COVID-19, Virginia will hold a GOP primaries for U.S. Senate, and for U.S. House of Representatives in several districts on both GOP and Democratic sides. Per the State Board of Elections website, here are the elections, with a few comments by me about what to keep an eye on:
U.S. Senate, GOP nomination: Daniel Gade, Thomas Speciale, Alissa Baldwin
Gade has far outraised his GOP competitors and is most likely to win the nomination, the main question being how big turnout is, what percent vote in person vs. by-mail, and how big Gade’s (likely) margin is. For some background on this race, Virginia Republicans Poised to Nominate a Far-Right Extremist for U.S. Senate Yet Again; Far-Right Group Gives Seal of Approval to Virginia GOP Candidates Daniel Gade, Nick Freitas, Bob Good, etc.; Labels Scott Taylor, Denver Riggleman “Somewhat Liberal”; Just a Reminder How Crazy, Extreme the Republicans Running for U.S. Senate from Virginia Are…and why we need to reelect Mark Warner overwhelmingly this November! and Video: GOP Frontrunner for U.S. Senate Nomination in Virginia Goes Off the Rails, Praises Michigan Anti-“Lockdown” Protests, Encourages Them in Virginia. Oh, and everyone make sure you vote this fall to reelect Sen. Mark Warner, preferably by a huge margin!
VA01, Democratic Nomination: Qasim Rashid vs. Vangie Williams
VA01 Democrats get to choose their nominee to take on godawful Rep. Rob Wittman (R) this fall. The choices are Qasim Rashid (the Democratic nominee for State Senate in SD28 in 2019) and Vangie Williams (the Democratic VA01 nominee in 2018), who you can see debate here and here. FYI, VA01 is a “red” district,” having gone for Trump by 15 points in 2016 and for Corey Stewart by 2 points in 2018. So, the big question here isn’t so much whether a Democrat can win this November, but who the nominee will be and whether they can possibly a) make this as close as possible; b) force Wittman to burn through some of his cash; and c) set themselves up for a potentially different-looking district in 2022, after redistricting. Also, of course, we’ll see what turnout looks like tomorrow; in 2018, it was around 27.5k, with three Democrats (John Suddarth, Edwin Santana, Vangie Williams) running. Oh yeah, and what % of voters will vote absentee/by mail vs. what % will vote in person? I wouldn’t be surprised if 50%-60% vote in person, but we’ll see…
VA02, GOP Nomination: Scott Taylor vs. Ben Loyola vs. Jarome Bell
Former Rep. Scott Taylor – who has been endorsed by none other than Donald Trump (although Corey Stewart says it wasn’t *really* Trump, lol) – has got to be the (big?) favorite in this one. Still, it’s possible that Ben Loyola – who has been endorsed by former Reps. Scott Rigell (R) and Randy Forbes (R), among others – could pull an upset, with Jarome Bell probably finishing third. We’ll see what turnout looks like tomorrow, including what percent of VA02 Republicans vote by mail vs. in-person. Whichever Republican wins tomorrow, he will face Rep. Elaine Luria (D) in November, in a district that’s very “purple” and which Luria won by just over 2 points (over Taylor) in 2018. Let’s just make damn sure we reelect Luria this November!
VA04, Democratic Nomination: Rep. Donald McEachin vs. R. Cazel Levine
I urge everyone voting tomorrow in VA04 to renominate, then reelect in November, Rep. Donald McEachin, who has been doing a great job, despite numerous health issues he’s had to deal with. The only questions here are by how big a margin McEachin wins over R. Cazel Levine, and how big turnout is (and what percent vote in person vs. by-mail). VA04, of course, is an overwhelmingly “blue” district, so whoever the Democratic nominee is should win by a big margin in November.
VA05, Democratic Nomination: RD Huffstetler, John Lesinski, Claire Russo, Cameron Webb
This “red” district – which went for Trump by 14 points in 2016 and for neo-Confederate Corey Stewart by 2 points in 2018 – has suddenly become much more interesting and potentially much more competitive for Democrats, as VA05 Republicans are bitterly divided after voting to ditch their hard-right incumbent (Rep. Denver Riggleman) in favor of an even more extreme, crazy, far-right Republican (Bob Good). As an added bonus – for Democrats, that is – Good might not even end up making the ballot in November, and Riggleman could run as an independent. At that point, it’s quite possible that a Democrat could win the district. The question is, who will VA05 Democrats nominate tomorrow? Remember that there’s no ranked choice voting, so it only takes a plurality. Does that give the only woman in the race (Claire Russo) and advantage over three men, particularly given that women have been on a “roll” the past few years in Virginia? Or perhaps will voters be looking to nominate an African American (Cameron Webb), particularly given the increased attention over the past month or so to systemic racism? Or…will none of that be decisive, and will either a former congressional candidate (RD Huffstetler) or a former elected official (John Lesinski) win? And what percent of voters will cast their ballots in-person tomorrow vs. by mail? For some background on the candidates, see here. Also, check out the latest fundraising numbers here – Cameron Webb has reported net contributions this period (April 1-June 3) of $210,022 and cash on hand of $139,661; Claire Russo has reported net contributions this period (April 1-June 3) of $156,051 and cash on hand of $201,530; RD Huffstetler has reported net contributions this period (April 1-June 3) of $87,124 and cash on hand of $286,811; John Lesinski has reported net contributions this period (April 1-June 3) of $40,484 and cash on hand of $36,078. And check out the websites of Webb, Russo, Huffstetler andLesinski.
VA11, Democratic Nomination: Rep. Gerry Connolly vs. Zainab Mohsini
This is a safe-blue district at this point, and Republicans haven’t put up a big-name or big-money candidate as their nominee, so it’s really a question of whether VA11 Democrats are content to stick with the incumbent, Rep. Gerry Connolly, or go with a young, female candidate who’s run to Connolly’s left – Zainab Mohsini. Personally, I think Connolly’s done a good job overall, so I’d vote to renominate him tomorrow. The thing to keep an eye on is how big a margin Connolly (likely) wins by, and what turnout looks like, including what percent of voters opt to cast their ballot in person vs. by mail.