It’s that time of the month again folks. As we get closer to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic we also get closer to primary season in Virginia. Now, there will be two updates this month, as the filing deadline for the HOD is March 26th. So we will have two updates for you all this month. Dawson, Ethan and myself want to thank you all again for the continued support.
Statewide Races Update
In both parties, the fields for the statewide primaries seem to have been set. No one serious or new has jumped in on either side since we last updated. There have been some interesting developments on both sides in relation to the statewide races
Republican Turmoil Continues
For the Virginia GOP, the struggles continue with their nomination process. Finally choosing what can best be described as an unassembled assembled convention, it was meant to take place at Liberty University. That was until the University announced no contract was reached to hold the convention on their property. After actually going to Liberty, the VA GOP decided that the school was not viable.
This continues to throw the nomination process into turmoil. It also comes as Glenn Youngkin begins to ramp up his likely to be expensive campaign for Governor, throwing another wrench into the top candidates. And of course, there’s wild card Amanda Chase, who has continued to falsely claim that the November election was stolen. No matter how you look at it, the continued turmoil in the statewide party continues to make us doubt Republicans ability to win any of the statewide races.
Major Shift occurs in Democrats Attorney General Primary
Virginia Democrats are, as has been the case the past six years, much more stable. A wrench was thrown into their Attorney General primary, though, this past week. Governor Ralph Northam endorsed Delegate Jay Jones over incumbent Mark Herring. Jones, who I interviewed back in January, is running an unabashedly progressive campaign compared to Herring. Some have also wondered if this endorsement is slight payback for Herring trying to get Northam to resign during the “Governor Blackface” scandal. This is a major boost to Jones, though, who had struggled with name recognition if polling is to be believed. Herring still has much of the support in Democratic, vote-heavy Northern Virginia though. This will be the primary to watch though if you are a Democrat.
Our HOD Rating Changes
Our ratings changes are a bit more bountiful this month. We have four changes to announce, two favoring each party.
- HD-31 (Tossup to Leans Democratic:) Our rating of a Tossup here was based on two reasons. First, we knew that incumbent Elizabeth Guzmán would not be running again as she is putting all efforts into her Lieutenant Governor campaign. Second, there was an expectation that DJ Jordan, the 2019 GOP nominee, would be running again after passing on a LG run. However, Jordan has passed on a run for any office this cycle. This is a huge blow for Republicans, as Jordan was an incredibly strong recruit. He came within five points of Guzmán in 2019 and would have been formidable in an open race. Without him, we feel that District 31 should go back to Leans Democratic status.
- HD-62 (Likely Republican to Lean Republican): This may be the move that surprises our readers the most. While incumbent Carrie Coyner won by an 11 point margin in 2019, her seat did vote for Joe Biden. This is based on calculations painstakingly done by @BruneElections. The fact that Coyner is now in a Trump/Gillespie/Kaine/Biden district shows her district is zooming left. While we very much still consider Coyner a decent favorite, we feel it’s smart to hedge some bets here in this Democratic-trending district.
- HD-96 (Leans Republican to Likely Republican): In the inverse of HD-62, calculations from Ryan Brune once again help us here. His calculations have this seat at Trump +4, which is an improvement from Stewart +2 in 2018. While this seat has definitely zoomed left from 2016, it hasn’t at the rate some similar districts have. Batten is also a relatively strong incumbent; she won by 6.2 points in 2019. Since it will be a Trump district she sits in, we’re comfortable moving the seat to Likely Republican.
- HD-100 (Tossup to Leans Republican): This is a move we’ve been hinting at for a while. No candidate has yet declared for the Democrats here; this is the only competitive Republican-held seat where this is the case. It is not just based on that alone though, or else many other seats would be moving towards Democrats. The other part, which we have mentioned before, is incumbent Rob Bloxom Jr.’s predisposed strengths as a candidate. As a moderate and a legacy candidate for the seat, he is already quite strong. While this seat’s partisanship is certainly turning against him, he seems to be the Virginia GOPs own Brian Fitzpatrick: a strong local brand counteracting a slight Democratic lean.
Seats to Watch
As we did last month, we have some seats to watch as potential changes for our next update.
- HD-02: We nearly made the change to Safe Democratic for this seat in this update, but we’ve decided to hold until the filing deadline. We’ve been told Heather Mitchell may yet still file for the 2021 race, which would keep this at Likely Democratic in our eyes. This is one that can very quickly be considered uncompetitive though.
- HD-13: Republicans have not yet found a candidate to face off against Danica Roem in this Prince William-based seat that we have rated as Likely Democratic. While we do expect them to get someone to run here, at this point, it won’t likely be a high-quality candidate.
- HD-28: Republicans haven’t yet had a candidate announce here in this seat, which we currently rate as a Tossup. That’s slightly concerning for Republicans and would be a major embarrassment if they end up not fielding a candidate here. Even if andwhen a Republican announces, the fact one is not yet in brings us some concern towards the GOP being competitive here. This, surprisingly, may be a seat we move from Tossup to Leans Democratic earlier than we would’ve ever expected.
- HD-88: This is one we may actually move off the board because of a retirement. We had this seat rated as Likely Republican as a hedge due to incumbent Mark Cole being a controversial figure. However, Cole announced late in February that he was retiring this year. While we’ll wait to see who a nominee is for the GOP, this seat might actually be safer for them without Cole than it was with him.
Like I said, Dawson, Ethan and myself will have another update at the end of the month to recognize the filing deadline passing for the House of Delegates. Until then, we want to thank you all for the continued support we’ve been shown recently. And to remind everyone to stick with Elections Daily for continued coverage of Virginia’s 2021 elections.