Home 2023 Elections Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume III

Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume III

Susanna Gibson, Shelly Simonds, Betsy Carr, Kimberly Pope Adams, Sara Ratcliffe


From Del. Rip Sullivan ‘s

Flip and Defend-A-District Friday: Volume III

Welcome to the third edition of the 2023 Flip and Defend-A-District Series.

All the publicity last week about the new laws that became effective July 1st also provided a stark reminder of the importance of this election. Think about it: unless we do our job and take back the House and hold the Senate, on July 1, 2024 the list of new laws will include an abortion ban, and repeal of the red flag law, the Clean Economy Act, and all of the election reforms Democrats passed. Plus a slew of other laws taking Virginia backward.

The candidates Project Blue Dominion features in our Flip and Defend-A-District series are the Democrats—incumbents and challengers—who Virginians need to elect to gain the majority in the House of Delegates. The stakes are high and the power to elect Democrats lies in your hands. It is the time, donations, and activism of Virginia voters that will determine our future. I hope you will join us in seizing this historic opportunity.

House District 57

Meet the candidate: Susanna Gibson

Susanna Gibson is a Nurse Practitioner and a public health expert with years of experience providing home-based primary care to vulnerable patients in our community. Her medical experiences have given her a unique insight into the intersectionality of health with economic stability, education, climate change, social support systems, and more, all of which greatly impact Virginia’s policy and legislation needs. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia and Columbia University and a lifelong Democrat.

Susanna stepped up to run after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, which shifted power to the states, and puts Virginia at a crossroads. She was quoted in the Richmond-Times Dispatch saying, “Realizing that Virginia is at a tipping point in terms of reproductive rights, I wanted to be able to do everything I can to protect those reproductive rights and reproductive freedom.”

About House District 57:

HD-57 encompasses western Henrico and eastern Goochland counties. It is arguably the most competitive seat in the entire state, with a VPAP Index of R+1. Gov. Youngkin won the district in 2021 51-48, and Biden and congressional Democratic candidates won it very narrowly in 2022. The GOP does not have a clear path to a majority without HD-57.

*HD-57 is one of the most competitive districts and a must win for Democrats to take back control of the House of Delegates.

Who Susanna is up against: Her opponent is retired developer David Owen. Owen is a first time candidate who has already lent his campaign $80,000. We expect he could dump in more of his personal wealth, and that he will be heavily funded by Youngkin and the national GOP groups.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 78

Meet the candidate: Betsy Carr

Delegate Carr has served in the House of Delegates since 2010, acting as a strong Democratic voice for progressive change. She advocates for women’s rights, human rights, common sense gun laws, equality, strong public schools, protecting our environment, and she has always stood up to Republicans trying to take away our rights.

For her entire career she has been dedicated to serving our communities and giving back. For sixteen years she was the outreach director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in downtown Richmond and a founder of the Micah Initiative, which partners diverse faith communities with city elementary schools to provide mentors, tutors and volunteers.

Betsy first ran for Richmond School Board because she knew that a strong public education is the best road to success. But after serving on the School Board, she realized that she could have a greater impact in the General Assembly. She has stood strong as a Democrat and a progressive champion, fought against extremist Republican agendas and passed legislation to move our communities forward.

As Delegate, she has worked hard to ensure that our Commonwealth works for everyone by protecting reproductive and abortion rights, defending human rights, fighting for inclusionary and affordable housing policies, strengthening gun safety laws, standing up for our teachers and students and working to combat climate change. She has fought vigorously for every Virginian, and she will continue to do so in the years to come.

Betsy has worked hard and been able to pass substantial legislation, no matter the party in charge, because she does not give up. She listens, she advocates, she collaborates, she problem-solves until she get bills passed that her community needs.

She never anticipated serving in elected office, but she has always known that her calling was to serve her community. There’s a lot more to do to make Virginia as great as it can be, and she knows that with your support we can make it happen.

About House District 78:

Betsy has 80% new voters to introduce herself to. Virginia’s 78th District encompasses a major portion of the City of Richmond. North of the James River, it spans from the Capitol in the east to the University of Richmond in the west, and includes Northside communities west of Chamberlayne Avenue. South of the James River, the District spans from Powhite Parkway in the east and Stony Point in the west.

Contact the campaign: Here

Campaign website: Here

Contribution: Here

House District 62

Meet the candidate: Sara Ratcliffe

Sara’s policy priorities stem from the values she holds deeply. Two core beliefs have led her to focus on the issues that directly affect our community.

  1. People have inherent dignity which requires respect. Each of us should be given the opportunity to make our own choices about what works best for us, our lives, and our families without interference or being dictated by another’s beliefs.
  2. Government is meant to be a force for good in people’s lives. Our elected leaders should work to open opportunities for people to thrive and succeed. Policies aimed at making life better should raise all boats.

Sara is a lifelong caretaker and channels her energy into fighting for those in need.

From a very early age, Sara helped care for her mom as she found her way through mental illness and other chronic health conditions until her death at age 59. Later, when her dad was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, she became his primary caregiver and advocate as they navigated a broken and confusing health system not designed for those whose treatment needs didn’t fit the usual. Finally, during the pandemic, at age 89, Sara’s mother-in-law came to live with her and her husband. Sara was able to help her find healthcare and options during scary and uncertain times.

Sara has 30 years of political experience that she will use to work for you. She knows how to advocate for her community and get things done. She earned a bachelor’s degree from George Washington University in Political Science with a concentration in U.S. domestic policy. Afterwards, she began her career as staff to U.S. Senator J. James Exon and as a research assistant to a noted political author and broadcaster, Elizabeth Drew. Sara continued working in renowned organizations on issues including women’s health and tobacco control policy where she developed expertise in advocating for those in marginalized communities. She also has worked on numerous local, state, and national campaigns beginning in 1988, before she herself was eligible to vote. A highlight of her campaign career was working in Virginia and Pennsylvania to elect President Barack Obama in 2008. Throughout her 30 years of experience, Sara worked closely with state, local, and national legislators, to ensure that everyone is empowered to determine their own success.

Sara and her husband Joe moved to Greene County in 2016 to live in a community that meshed with their love of nature. They are grateful for the blessings bestowed on them, including a son who recently began studying at JMU. When not occupied with their two Boston Terriers, Rufus and Elmer, Sara believes being a part of the community across the 62nd district is elemental to her nature. She is active with local community organizations, helps bolster Democratic candidates across the region, and sings with the Blue Ridge Chorale of Culpeper.

Who Sara is up against:

Sara believes she has the will, knowledge, and support to defeat Delegate Nick Freitas in the new 62nd House District. Delegate Freitas has been more interested in running for higher office, as evidenced by his two attempts so far, rather than serving the people of his district. He is one of the most anti-choice, pro-gun members of the General Assembly. His most prominent sponsored bills this past session were a born alive one and a constitutional carry one. This district is completely within the 7th Congressional District and flipping it would be a boost for Democrats in the Piedmont region where Representative Spanberger has had success.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 82

Meet the Candidate: Kimberly Pope Adams

Kimberly is a lifelong Virginian who loves calling Dinwiddie County home. The daughter of a union worker and a school crossing guard, Kimberly was born and raised in Hopewell, VA. She is a product of the Hopewell City Public School System, afterwards earning her bachelor’s degree in accounting and information systems from Virginia Tech. As a working single mother, she earned her Master of Business Administration in 2017.

A skilled accountant and auditor for nearly two decades, Kimberly wants to bring accountability to the Virginia House of Delegates. Her deep love for the area she grew up in is the cornerstone of why she’s running to serve the 82nd District. Her community has seen hardships that were preventable, and she’s ready to be a voice for a district that has long been ignored by Richmond. Kimberly will stand with public school educators, farmers, local businesses, and community leaders to help her district thrive.

About House District 82:

House District 82 includes the City of Petersburg, Dinwiddie County (parts), Prince George County (parts), and Surry County. This district is extremely competitive, considered +1R according to Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). Although won by Glenn Youngkin in 2021 (50.6%) HD-82 favored late Congressman A. Donald McEachin in November 2022 (50.5%). This is a crucial, majority-making seat that can flip back to blue in 2023.

*HD-57 is one of the most competitive districts and a must win for Democrats to take back control of the House of Delegates.

Who Kimberly is up against: 

In 2021, Del. Kim Taylor (R-Dinwiddie) flipped the former 63rd district by just 512 votes. In her one term as Delegate, she has supported countless GOP efforts to roll back the progress made under Democrats’ leadership. Endorsed by Glenn Youngkin, she is anti-choice, and even opposes bi-partisan initiatives for public schools.

Campaign website: Here

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

House District 70

Meet the Candidate: Shelly Simonds

Shelly Simonds is a current member of the Virginia House of Delegates who is running for re-election in the 70th district in Newport News. She is a former teacher, who started her time in elected office as a member of the Newport News School Board and as the Chair of Board for New Horizons Regional Education Centers. Del. Simonds is a passionate advocate for students and teachers as a member of the Education Committee in the House, where she has passed legislation promoting STEM education and workforce development. She also co-founded the Career and Technical Education Caucus, a bi-partisan effort to connect students to careers. After a dramatic tied election in 2017, Del. Simonds has been dedicated to fair elections and voting rights while serving on the Privileges and Elections Committee in the House. Del. Simonds attended Bucknell University for her undergraduate degree and Stanford University for her Master’s degree. She lives with her husband, a NASA engineer and two college-age daughters in the Denbigh area of Newport News.

Contact the campaign: Here

Contribute: Here

That’s it for Volume III of our Flip and Defend-A-District Friday series. We’ll be back next week and every week until Election Day to share more about our great candidates. In the meantime, I encourage you to review this email and future editions to find a candidate or candidates whom you would like to support with your time or financial resources.

Project Blue Dominion is committed to supporting Democratic candidates in every corner of the Commonwealth. Join us. The fight to take back the majority is on.




Sign up for the Blue Virginia weekly newsletter

Previous articleSaturday News: “Earth is at its hottest in thousands of years”; Zelensky Visits Snake Island; “Wage Gains, Low Unemployment Keep Pressure on Fed”; “The (figurative) cage match between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk is on”; Only 1 Democrat (Anne Holton) Now on VA Board of Education
Next articleVideo: At “Blue Brick Wall” Kickoff Event in Springfield, Sen. Louise Lucas Vows to Crisscross Virginia, Do Whatever Necessary to Stop Youngkin, Hold the Senate and Take Back the House of Delegates