The 5th District Republican Party committee met over the weekend to nominate a replacement for incumbent Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/Charlottesville) who is not seeking a second term. With a scant one-vote margin, the committee chose local businessman Denver Riggleman as the party nominee. He will face Democrat Leslie Cockburn in the general election. This will be a competitive campaign, but Mr. Riggleman will benefit from the district’s Republican voting history. As a measure, President Trump carried the seat 53-42%; Mitt Romney topped President Obama 52-46% in 2012; and John McCain scored a 52-47% win here in the first Obama election year.
The 5th District Republican Committee of Virginia is already taking action to replace retiring freshman Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/Charlottesville). The 37-member committee decided that individuals wanting to be considered as a candidate before the panel should make his or her intention known today. The Committee plans to already meet and choose a nominee this Saturday, thus making the June 12th primary a non-event.
Moving quickly limits the number of serious candidates coming forward and makes a campaign for the position virtually non-existent, but allows the chosen candidate to hit the ground running. Democrat Leslie Cockburn, a former CBS News “60 Minutes” producer and mother of actress Olivia Wilde, is unopposed for her party’s nomination. Therefore, the new 5th District general election will begin in earnest during the first of next week.
On the Memorial Day holiday, Virginia freshman Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/Charlottesville) reversed course from his Thursday re-election announcement and will instead retire. He also revealed his alcoholism affliction. The Congressman will still appear unopposed on the June 12th ballot, but will officially withdraw once the primary passes. The local 5th District Republican Party organization will then meet in a special convention to choose a new nominee. The eventual candidate will oppose former CBS News “60 Minutes” producer Leslie Cockburn who is well underway with her campaign. The district still leans Republican, so being able to turn away from a weakened Rep. Garrett should actually help the GOP’s position, even though the post-convention candidate will have to quickly assemble a major congressional campaign from scratch. This race will continue to attract national political attention.
Over the weekend, delegates in Virginia’s open 6th District met in convention to choose a Republican nominee to replace retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke). The first ballot winner is state Delegate Ben Cline (R-Amherst), who captured 52% of the vote. He defeated Republican National Committeewoman Cynthia Dunbar, a former Texas Board of Education member, who scored 39% delegate support. Mr. Cline will go into the general election as the prohibitive favorite since the 6th is Virginia’s second-most Republican congressional district (Trump ‘16: 60-35%). Four Democrats are vying for the party nomination that will be decided in the June 12th primary election.
According to a new Christopher Newport University survey (2/5-28; 1,562 VA registered voters), one US Senate state the Democrats won’t have to worry about defending is Virginia. From their data, which appears to undercount minorities and seemingly fails to even segment the state’s significant Asian population (6.6%), Sen. Tim Kaine (D) leads all prospective opponents with a 56-33 or 56-32% margin spread. Looking to the Republican field, Prince William County Board chairman Corey Stewart has a small 16-7-6% lead over former Lt. Governor nominee and pastor E.W. Jackson and state Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper).
The Virginia Democratic Party is not short on Democratic candidates to challenge two-term Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean), but they have one fewer now. Former Fairfax County educator and teachers’ union leader Kimberly Adams announced that she is ending her campaign. The Adams decision reduces the Democratic primary field to ten candidates. Whether others start to follow Ms. Adams’ lead because the number of competitors makes it difficult to gain significant political oxygen remains to be seen.
Rep. Comstock reports almost $1.2 million in her campaign account. Combined, the Democrats have raised $3.4 million, but because the dollars are split so many ways the contender with the most resources, former state Department official Alison Friedman, has less than $700,000 in the bank and the eventual party nominee will likely expend all of his or her funds in order to secure the nomination.
The majority in the Virginia House of Delegates has come down to one single district that ended in a tied vote. Therefore, literally one vote statewide is determining which party will control the chamber in the next legislative session.
After the state three-judge panel ruled that a particular contested ballot must be counted for Republican Delegate David Yancey (R-Newport News), the 94th District House of Delegates electoral outcome officially became a tie. Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds asked for reconsideration, but the court again ruled the vote must be counted. This led to the drawing of lots to determine who would officially win the election.
Late this week, the process was completed and Delegate Yancey won the draw. Ms. Simonds apparently has the right to ask for yet another recount, and she indicated that she will take such a course of action. So, this saga will apparently continue for some time, but for now the official ruling indicates that Mr. Yancey has been declared the winner.
Yesterday, we reported that the 94th House of Delegates District recount had awarded Democratic challenger Shelly Simonds a one-vote victory over incumbent Delegate David Yancey (R-Newport News). The result would have given the Democrats a 50-50 tie in the state House. Now, however, a three-judge panel reinstated a previously rejected vote in response to a Republican legal challenge, which means each candidate now records 11,608 votes. The tie-breaking result, and likely the House majority, will be decided by drawing lots from a hat. The State Board of Elections will schedule the procedure for a date in the near future. The race may not be over regardless of who wins the draw, however. The loser has the right to ask for another recount, and we can expect such to happen no matter who breaks this “tie.”
After Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke) announced he would retire at the end of this Congress, several GOP candidates immediately jumped into the open primary campaign in this safest of Virginia Republican districts. In addition to state Delegate Ben Cline (R-Lexington) and Republican National Committeewoman Cynthia Dunbar, the Rockingham-Harrisonburg Clerk of Court, Chaz Haywood, has also joined the nomination contest. The eventual Republican nominee will be a heavy favorite in the general election, but the party leaders have not yet decided whether the nomination contest will be decided by primary or district convention.
Old Dominion Democratic Party members have decided how they will nominate 2018 candidates in two congressional districts. In the hotly contested 10th District (Rep. Barbara Comstock, R-McLean), the eleven announced Democratic candidates will do battle in a regular primary election. A convention, or “firehouse primary” had been discussed as nomination options, particularly by state Sen. Jennifer Wexton’s (D-Loudoun County) supporters, but the voters will now decide as opposed to a small group of party insiders. The “firehouse primary” is a hybrid that allows the public to vote, but in only a few locations around the district. This is another option designed to limit voter participation and effectively allow the party leaders to determine who will represent the party in the general election.
On the other hand, there will be no primary in more strongly Republican District 5, the southern Virginia seat that freshman Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/ Charlottesville) represents. Therefore, the five announced Democratic candidates in this contest will now be forced to participate in a district-wide convention in order to win the party nomination.
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