Home 2023 Elections Ranking the VA State Senate Primaries So Far, From Very Interesting to...

Ranking the VA State Senate Primaries So Far, From Very Interesting to Not at All Interesting…and Everything in Between


In about two weeks, the 2023 Virginia General Assembly session will adjourn “sine die,” and the 2023 Democratic and Republican nominating contests (primaries, caucuses, conventions) for State Senate and House of Delegates will really get going in earnest. We’ll be looking at all of these races of course – and note that all 100 House of Delegates seats and 40 State Senate seats are up this year, under newly drawn district lines following the 2020 U.S. Census – but for now, see below for the State Senate primaries to keep an eye on, sorted in to categories based on level of interest/competitiveness. Enjoy!

P.S. Note that the vast majority of these districts are pretty much solid red or solid blue, so that primary election is effectively the “ballgame,” while the November general election is essentially a formality. Do most voters understand that? If not, they really need to.


SD1: A gazillion Republicans (Lance Allen, James Bergida, Robert Hupman, Del. Dave LaRock – yes, this nutjob, John Massoud, Brandon Monk, Brad Pollack) running in this deep-red Frederick/Shenandoah/Warren/Winchester/Clarke district. Gonna be wild – and not in a good way! LOL

SD11: Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) is being challenged by Del. Sally Hudson. Expect tons of money to be spent on this one, with the outcome highly uncertain in this deep-blue, Albemarle (52%)/Charlottesville (22%)/Amherst (14%)/Nelson (7%)/Louisa (4%) district.

SD12: Far-right-extremist/insurrectionist Sen. Amanda Chase (R) is being challenged by two Republicans – former State Senator Glen Sturtevant (who used to be considered relatively moderate but has moved HARD right) and Tina Ramirez – in a solidly red district in Chesterfield/Colonial Heights. This one should be fascinating, in a horror show/car wreck kinda way, to watch.

SD13: Scandal-ridden/self-proclaimed “pro-life” (whatever the hell that means) Sen. Joe Morrissey (D) is being challenged by former Del. Lashrecse Aird (D) and Angela Rowe (D [withdrew]) in this solidly blue, Henrico (32%)/Prince George (20%)/Petersburg (16%)/Hopewell (10%)/Dinwiddie (10%)/Sussex (5%)/Charles City County (3%)/Surry (3%) district. The only thing making this a bit less interesting is that Morrissey has what incumbents usually want (other than not being primaried at all, lol), which is two challengers instead of one, so they can split the anti-incumbent vote and help the incumbent to win.

SD18: Senate President Pro Tem Louise Lucas (D) and Sen. Lionell Spruill (D) are going to be in a major slugfest in this solidy blue Chesapeake (63%)/Portsmouth (37%) seat. This one promises to be intense!

SD21: Norfolk City Councilwoman Andria McClellan (D) and Del. Angelia Williams Graves (D) battle it out for this open seat in a deep-blue Norfolk (100%) district. Definitely worth watching.

SD26: Senate Minority Leader Tommy Norment (R) faces off against Sen. Ryan McDougle (R) in a heavyweight battle for the ages in this solid-red James City County (35%)/Hanover 32%/Gloucester (18%)/New Kent (11%)/Mathews (4%), King & Queen (1%) district.  Too bad they both can’t lose, as they’re each terrible in their own ways (e.g., Norment is super slimy, McDougle is a right wingnut).

SD27: Two very interesting primaries here in this competitive/purple district (Stafford/Spotsylvania/Fredericksburg), with Democrats Ben Litchfield and Luke Radley Wright (and, from what I’m hearing, another Democrat – Joel Griffin – jumping in soon) plus Republicans Tara Durant and Matt Strickland.

SD29: Incumbent Sen. Jeremy McPike (D) faces a potentially very tough challenge from Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D) in this solidly blue Prince William (89%)/Stafford (11%). Stay tuned on this one for sure!

SD31: Democrats Russet Perry and Zach Cummings are facing off for the nomination in this purple/swing district (Loudoun 90%/Fauquier 10%), a completely open seat following Sen. Jill Vogel’s decision not to run for reelection, and with the prospect of facing wealthy right-wingnut Republican Juan Pablo Segura. Democrats really need the strongest possible candidate here, as it could go a long way towards determining control of the State Senate and we need to win it!

SD33: Former Delegates Hala Ayala and Jennifer Carroll Foy are facing off for the Democratic nomination in this solidly blue open seat in Prince William (64%)/Fairfax (36%). Should be a barn burner!

SD36: Sen. George Barker (D) is being challenged for the nomination by Fairfax School Board member Stella Pekarsky in this deep-blue Fairfax County seat. Should be highly competitive.


SD17: Del. Emily Brewer (R) vs. Hermie Sadler (R) in this purple/competitive Southside seat to take on Democratic Del. Clint Jenkins. I don’t really have a good feel for the primary, but it’s an important district, so keep an eye on it!

SD35: Longtime incumbent Sen. Dave Marsden (D) is being challenged for the Democratic nomination by Heidi Drauschak. We’ll see if Drauschak can raise money and mount a serious challenge to the long-time incumbent in this deep-blue Fairfax County seat.

SD37: Sen. Chap Petersen (D) has the dream of incumbents (other than not having any primary challengers), which is to have multiple primary challengers who will almost certainly split the anti-incumbent vote (in the absence of Ranked Choice Voting, which Democrats SHOULD be using of course!) and make it easier for the incumbent to win. In this case, those challengers are Saddam Salim and Erika Yalowitz in this deep-blue Fairfax/Falls Church district. If there were only one Democratic challenger to Sen. Petersen, this one would be a top-tier race.


SD8: This one would be very interesting if Sen. Steve Newman (R) and Sen. Mark Peake (R) ran against each other in a primary, but VA Scope reported in early December 2022 that they had agreed NOT to run against each other. So…what *would* have been VERY interesting will probably not be interesting at all, other than which Senator – Newman or Peake – opts not to run for reelection in this deep-red Lynchburg (37%)/Bedford (37%)/Campbell (26%) district.

SD28: Not particularly interesting so far, but we’ll see; incumbent Sen. Bryce Reeves (R) is being challenged for the Republican nomination by Mike Allers (R) in this deep-red Fauquier (25%)/Culpeper (24%)/Orange (18%)/Spotsylvania (13%)/Greene (10%)/Madison (7%)/Rappahannock (4%).

SD40: Not interesting; Sen. Barbara Favola should easily defeat challenger James DeVita in the Democratic primary in deep-blue Arlington.


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