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.
Democrats were excited about the electoral prospects of retired Air Force Colonel Doug Belote in a district that is moving toward politically marginal status. Yesterday, however, due to illness in his family, Col. Belote announced that he is withdrawing from the race. Three other Democrats remain, but party leaders are now looking toward state Senator Lynwood Lewis as a viable alternative. Freshman Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach) defends the southeastern Virginia Tidewater district in what could become a competitive campaign.
Veteran Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, announced that he will not seek re-election next year. Mr. Goodlatte’s term as the panel’s chairman will also expire at the end of this Congress. He was first elected in 1992 and has had little in the way of challenges from his safely Republican western Virginia district. In addition to chairing the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Goodlatte previously led the House Agriculture Committee. He becomes the 34th regular cycle member and 24th Republican to retire from the House when the current term ends, with one more (PA-18; former Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh)) in special election mode to be filled on March 13th.
A day after the Virginia statewide election, more is being learned. Though Democrats racked up a surprisingly strong result, particularly in coming close to claiming the House of Delegates’ majority (at this point with at least five elections headed for recounts and legal challenges, GOP control stands at 51-49), their standing is overwhelmingly due to northern Virginia. While turnout was up 16.3% statewide when comparing to the last gubernatorial election in 2013, it was even higher in northern Virginia. In the local entities of Alexandria City, and the counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Stafford, turnouts were up 26% (Alexandria and Arlington), 22, 31, 21, and 19%, respectively, all substantially exceeding the robust statewide figure.
Additionally, Republican turnout was significant, too, thus making the Democratic performance all the more impressive. GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie scored almost 10,000 votes more than Gov. Bob McDonnell in 2009, the last Republican to win the state’s top office, and Lt. Gov. nominee Jill Vogel recorded more votes than any other Republican in the state’s history. This translated into 2017 eight and six point losses for the two GOP candidates.
Democrats, riding a tidal wave of votes in northern Virginia, swept all three statewide Virginia elections last night, and may have captured the House of Delegates. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam easily defeated former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, 54-45%, with a turnout of more than 2.61 million voters, an increase of about 14% when compared to the 2013 election. Democrats scored convincing but smaller wins at the Lt. Governor and Attorney General. The Northam victory margin was much larger than polling had forecast.
Democrats scored major gains in the House of Delegates, securing a net gain of at least 15 seats with as many as seven races potentially headed to re-counts. It will likely take several days and maybe weeks to sort out, but the chamber majority is definitely undecided as both parties look to have secured, or are leading in, 50 districts.
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