Oh, To Be An Incumbent

by Dick Hall-Sizemore

According to the Virginia Political Newsletter, the House Republican caucus has targeted 12 Democratic candidates in the upcoming General Assembly election.  Their choices of targets reveal a lot about current Virginia politics.

The targets are:

  • HD 21—Josh Thomas
  • HD 22—Travis Nembhard
  • HD 57—Susanna Gibson
  • HD 58—Rodney Willett
  • HD 65—Joshua Cole
  • HD 71—Jessica Anderson
  • HD 82—Kimberly Pope Adams
  • HD 84—Nadaruis Clark
  • HD 86—Jarris Taylor
  • HD 89—Karen Jenkins
  • HD 94—Phil Hernandez
  • HD 97—Michael Feggans

The Virginia Public Access Project shows that 63 House seats are contested by the major parties. Of those 63, the House Republican caucus has chosen to target only 12. Of those target districts, seven are open seats (21, 22, 57, 65, 84, 89, and 94); an incumbent Republican is running in four (71, 82, 86, and 97); and an incumbent Democrat is running in only one (58). The caucus is putting its advertising dollars into elections for open seats, which is understandable, and defending four new incumbents, first elected in 2020 or 2022. There is only one race with an incumbent Democrat that the caucus is willing to put resources into.

The battles will be in the open seats and in districts with recently elected Delegates who barely had time to get name recognition in their original districts and who are now running in new districts.  Those incumbents in both parties with several years of experience who did not get placed in a district with another incumbent or who was the incumbent who chose not to retire can apparently rest easy if the choice of the Republican caucus on how to spend its money is a reliable indication of the competitiveness of the districts.

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7 responses to “Oh, To Be An Incumbent”

  1. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    “It’s good to be King.” Of course, the next best thing is a map and a crayon.

    1. how_it_works Avatar

      I wonder if the average Virginia politician finds crayons to be delicious.

      1. Nancy Naive Avatar
        Nancy Naive


  2. Stephen Haner Avatar
    Stephen Haner

    Ah, this takes me back. Too few resources for too many begging hands means tough decisions are needed, targeting, and the loudest pleas and demands usually come from the caucus incumbents, many of them not really vulnerable (if they are, it is usually their own fault.) But this time they are often running in many new precincts….

    This is a brutal triage process, with some given up for dead from the start and some assumed they will survive on their own. The money should go where it will make the difference for a campaigns on the edge. This year, thanks to Youngkin’s fundraising, more campaigns are likely to get in that middle category.

    But the ads didn’t wow me. Little 15-second hit jobs on “Democrats.” What does that tell us about the polling on the words “liberal” or “progressive” or even “woke”? I’d be spending on name ID for the R candidates in those districts, positive name ID.

    1. James Wyatt Whitehead Avatar
      James Wyatt Whitehead
    2. DJRippert Avatar

      In marketing there is a concept called “brand awareness”. Through a variety of means (including advertising) you try to get people to recognize your brand in a positive way.

      “Coke is the real thing”. Coca-cola
      “Just do it!” Nike
      “Red Bull gives you wings” Red Bull

      Neither political party in Virginia seems to have much of a recognizable brand.

      What would be the brand statement for the Republican Party in Virginia that equates to the statements I listed above?

      “Downsize government, upsize the future”?

  3. Nancy Naive Avatar
    Nancy Naive

    Fun with words… your boss calls and says, “I’d like you to mosey by my office, scan a moot document, then your give a reflexive response.”

    What’s up?

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