Virginia is just 38 short days away from its first statewide nomination as the Republicans are finally set to pick their candidates for the Big Three — Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General on May 8th in an “unassembled convention.”
Sticking with the date of May 8th is the smartest decision the Virginia GOP has made this year, as it gives them a 31 day head start on likely Democratic nominee, former Governor Terry McAuliffe.
And they need it.
As Ward Bond’s Father Lonegan says to open one of my favorite movies, “The Quiet Man”:
“Well, then. I’ll begin at the beginning.”
It has been 512 days since the Democrats won the majority back from twenty years of Republican control of the House of Delegates. In just 223 days, Virginia’s citizens will decide if they merit a return to power.
Our initial ranking of the most competitive races is based primarily on how Democrats performed in each of these districts in 2019. This ranking will change over the course of the election season as statewide polling and fundraising reports come in. This is just “the beginning.”
Overall, Republicans should do better in 2021 versus 2019 and I rate control of the Virginia House as a Toss Up right now.
Nuttycombe sees it as Tilt Democratic and will go into that further on Friday. There are just so many unknowns these days, but over the next four months things will start to settle out.
The primary impact on this cycle is that Donald Trump is no longer president. The level of antipathy for Trump in suburban districts was the most important reason why the GOP lost their House and Senate majorities in Virginia.
Now that reason is gone.
After the 2015 elections, Republicans had 66 House seats and 21 Senate seats.
The election of Donald Trump in 2016 ended up costing the GOP 21 House seats and 3 Senate seats. If you still have a problem grasping that reality here’s a message from Colonel Nathan Jessup.
One of the greatest scene in cinematic history. Still gives chills.
Look, these rankings are just built on numbers. Numbers derived from election data and I start with the closest House races of 2019 working down the list with the district number first, then the incumbent and challenger (s).
Democratic districts will come ahead of Republicans since they are more adversely affected by the Absence of Trump.
A) Virginia House Republicans have recruited a much more diverse field of women and minority candidates. That seemed to help GOP win 14 seats in 2020 U.S House races
B) Democrats have FIFTEEN primary challengers who are further to the Left than the incumbents; however, only four on the Top 26.
C) CNanlysis is Bold Italics
D) this ranking will change
E) Finance Reports are out April 15th.
1 – 83 – Del. Nancy Guy (D) has three Republicans running including former Delegate Chris Stolle and attorney Tim Anderson. CNanlysis rates Tilt Republican
2 – 27 – Del. Roxann Robinson (R) will face Democrat Debra Gardner and Independent Henry Staruk. Lean Republican
3 – 75 – Del. Roslyn Tyler (D) rematch versus Otto Wachsmann (R). Tilt Republican
4 – 10 – Del. Wendy Gooditis (D) against Millennial Republican Nick Clemente. Tilt Democratic. Democrats must win this seat to retain majority. Likely #1 District by fall.
5 – 2 – Del. Candi King (D) opponent TBD – nothing on VPAP yet. Solid Democratic; however, recent Special Election was VERY close. Probably moves down, but for now it’s a top Five District based on the Special and pre-Trump performance.
6 – 28 – Del. Joshua Cole (D) only announced opponent thus far Republican Tara Durant. Toss Up
7 – 40 – Del. Dan Helmer (D) will face winner of Dutch Hillenburg and Harold Pyon nomination battle. Lean Democratic
8 – 73 – Del. Rodney Willett (D) rematches with Republican Mary Margaret Kastelberg. Tilt Democratic
9 – 85- Del. Alex Askew (9) is challenged by Republican Karen Greenhalgh. Toss Up
10 – 66 – OPEN – Del. Kirk Cox not seeking re-election. Mike Cherry looks to be the Republican nominee to oppose one of three Democrats running including former House candidates Sheila Bynum-Coleman and Katie Sponsor. This race will move up the rankings early. Lean Republican
11 – 84 – Del. Glenn Davis (R) is also running for Lt. Governor. Democrats have two candidates Kim Melnyk and Tracie Liguid. Outcome of LG nomination factors heavily here. Lean Republican
12 – 81 – Del. Barry Knight (R) against Democrat Jeffrey Feld and Independent Jeff Staples. Likely Republican
13 – 100 – Del. Rob Bloxom (R) goes up against Democrat Finale Norton. Likely Republican
14 – 12 – Del. Chris Hurst (D) is contested by Republican Jason Ballard. I expect this race to move up rankings. Toss Up
15 – 72 – Del. Schuyler VanValkenburg (D) so far appears to be uncontested. This district is going to change A LOT in redistricting. Lean Democratic
16 – 50 – Del. Lee Carter (D) is also running for Governor and has two primary challengers along with two Republican candidates. Lean Democratic
17 – 31 – Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D) looks like she is staying in the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor while also facing three primary opponents. Winner of that primary will see Republican Ben Baldwin in the fall. Lean Democratic
18 – 21 – Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler (D) will face an intriguing candidate in Republican Tanya Gould. Gould, African American, is a survivor of sex trafficking in her youth. Put this one on your watch list. Lean Democratic
19 – 51 – OPEN – Del. Hala Ayala (D) defeated Rich Anderson in a rematch from 2017 and is now running for Lt. Governor. Democrat Brianna Sewell will oppose either Tim Cox or Jeff Dove for the Republicans. Lean Democratic
20 – 13 – Del. Danica Roem (D) has Republican Christopher Stone as her opponent. Very Likely Democratic
21 – 63 – Del. Lashrecse Aird (D) drew Kim Taylor for a Republican challenger. Tilt Democratic
22 – 91 – Del. Martha Mugler (D) faces A.C. Cordoza and Libertarian Charles West. Race to pay attention to see if third party closes the gap for African American Republican Cordoza. Likely Democratic
23 – 68 – Del. Dawn Adams (D) has to get by a potentially strong contest in the primary versus Kyle Elliott who out raised Adams in the last report. After that, the winner goes against either Mike Dickinson or Mark Earley Jr, son of the former Attorney General. (And I just felt old – again) Likely Democratic
24 – 93 – Del. Mike Mullin (D) will go against Republican Jordan Gray who teaches at The Achievable Dream Middle and High School in Newport News. Lean Democratic
25 – 34 – Del. Kathleen Murphy (D) has a rematch with Republican Gary Pan but first has to get past primary opponent Jennifer Adeli. Solid Democratic
26 – 94 – Del. Shelly Simonds (D) – you’ll remember this race as the one that broke the tie by drawing a film canister out of a bowl in 2017. David Yancey won that day and got blown out by Simonds by almost 18 points in 2019. Simonds is uncontested thus far. Solid Democratic
Next districts to be considered would be 26 – Del. Tony Wilt (R) Harrisonburg Very Likely Republican, 96 – Del. Amanda Batten (R) James City Very Likely Republican, 62 – Del. Carrie Coyner Likely Republican (R) Hopewell, 67 – Del. Karrie Delaney (D) Fairfax Solid Democratic, 32 – Del. David Reid (D) Loudoun Solid Democratic, 88 – OPEN SEAT Likely Republican – Del. Mark Cole (R) Retiring and 82 – Del. Jason Miyares (R) Virginia Beach Very Likely Republican.
Chris Saxman is executive director of Virginia FREE. This commentary is republished with permission from a Virginia FREE email distribution.