Sunday, December 04, 2016

Virginia Special Elections-- January 10


Rocky Holcomb (R) and Cheryl Turpin (D)

Virginia has a Democratic Governor, Terry McAuliffe, an overwhelmingly Republican House of Delegates (66 Republicans to 34 Democrats) and an almost evenly split state Senate (21 Republicans to 19 Democrats). Virginia Republicans are notorious for outrageous gerrymandering and unless the Democrats either retain the governor's office-- McAuliffe can't run again next year-- or win a Senate majority, the Democrats will be screwed there once again after the 2020 census. Keep in mind that statewide-- so no gerrymandering--the Dems do great. Both U.S. senators are Democrats. In 2012 Tim Kaine ousted George Allen 1,944,992 (53%) to 1,758,857 (47%) and in 2014 Mark Warner was reelected against Ed Gillespie 1,073,667 (49%) to 1,55,940 (48%) in a very Republican year. Obama won the state both times-- 53-46% against McCain and 51-47% against Romney. Hillary just beat Trump 1,916,845 (49.9%) to 1,731,156 (45.0%). And all three constitutional offices are held by Democrats, Governor Terry McAuliffe, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring. It's just the gerrymandered state legislative districts and congressional districts that are so dire for Democrats.

So here's the lay of the land. State Sen. Donald McEachin was elected to Congress, opening up the 9th senatorial district, which covers all of Charles City County and parts of Henrico and Hanover counties and part of the city of Richmond (Shockoe Bottom and Shockoe Slip, Court End, Capitol Square, Jackson Ward, parts of the Fan District, Carytown, Windsor Farms, Brookland Park, Ginter Park and Washington Park). The district is so blue that Republicans don't even run there. In 2014 Mark Warner took 72% of the votes there.-- the same percentage that Obama got over Romney in 2012. McEachin was reelected last time he ran with 90%. Del. Jennifer McClellan is the Senate candidate to replace McEachin and it's pretty much a done deal. So, an easy Democratic hold.

The other Senate seat, the one the Democrats really need is probably out of their grasp-- the 22nd district. It encompasses part of Lynchburg and all of Amherst, Fluvanna, Goochland, Prince Edward, Appomattox, Buckingham and Cumberland counties and a small sliver of Louisa County. It's very red. In 2014 Gillespie beat Warner 57-40% and in 2013 Cuccinelli beat McAuliffe 54-38%. Romney beat Obama 56-44%. State Senator Thomas Garrett beat Jane Dittmar for the open congressional seat 58.3% to 41.7%, Robert Hurt having decided to retire. So the state Senate seat is probably a GOP hold. In the 2011 race for the seat, Garrett beat Democrat Bert Dodson 58.1% to 41.8%. This time Goochland County Supervisor Ken Peterson is competing with Richmond attorney Mark Peake for the Republican nomination. Yesterday former Fluvanna County Sheriff Ryant Washington won the Democratic nomination at a district caucus. It's the most important of the 3 special elections for a Democrat to win but it would be really tough, some would say impossible.

The most competitive race is for a very swingy red House of Delegates seat in Virginia Beach, where Del. Scott Taylor (R) beat Shaun Brown, a Berniecrat (62-38%) when Scott Rigell decided to retire from Virginia's 2nd congressional district. Republicans have had better turnout in the district and have usually been winning it-- but never by much. Romney edged Obama by a handful of votes but it was basically a 49-49% tie. Gillespie beat Warner 50-47% and Cuccinelli beat McAuliffe 48-46%. On the other hand, Tim Kaine beat George Allen 51-49%. So this is definitely a pick-up opportunity for Virginia Democrats, who will be represented by public school teacher Cheryl Turpin against Rocky Holcomb, an intelligence officer in the city sheriff's office. Holcomb graduated from Regent "University," which is in the district. Turpin went to real schools, Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of Virginia.

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