What a fun fundraising period we had in Virginia! Many a race now has a clearer picture for what’s going on as we are now less than three weeks to the GOP convention and less than two months from the June 8th Democratic primary. We are getting into the stretch of the 2021 campaign. That means we do have some updates and race rating changes for everyone this month.
Statewide Race updates
There are changes for our Leans Democratic rating in all three statewide races, but there have been some shifts on both sides in certain races since our last update.
On the GOP side, two candidates who were thought to be on the outside looking in have gotten themselves into favorite discussion. On the Governor side, Glenn Youngkin has exploded onto the scene. Armed with his own finances, Youngkin has made himself a player even in the convention style. Some think he may have the momentum to lead him to victory, overtaking Kirk Cox as the alternative to Pete Snyder. Others think that his current standing is being overhyped. The Lieutenant Governor’s race has also seen a third contender come in. Winsome Sears, a former delegate, has taken the field by surprise. Portraying herself as the most conservative option, even above Tim Hugo, has put her in good standing with SWVA activists. She’s made the LG race more interesting on the GOP side, and makes Tim Hugo depend on larger margins from NOVA area delegates.
For Democrats, the biggest shift happened in their Lieutenant Governor primary. Elizabeth Guzmán, a progressive Delegate from Prince William, dropped out this past week to focus on her Delegate race. That has muddled the field a little less, especially with many of the candidates competing for NOVA votes. This especially helps Sean Perryman and Delegate Sam Rasoul as both were competing with Guzmán for progressive voters in the NOVA area. However, Andria McClellan has also become a bigger player in the past month. As the only candidate from Norfolk and its surrounding area, she already has a built in base. Couple that with a good fundraising period, and she’s vaulted into contention. This is still the most intriguing Democratic primary, and expect a more detailed article from me about it soon.
House of Delegates Rating Changes
Now what I know you all clicked on this article for. We have five changes for you all this month, with two headed towards Democrats and three in favor of Republicans.
- HD85 (Tossup to Leans Democratic): In a seat that was flipped in 2017 and was held in 2019, we’ve decided to move it in favor of Democrat incumbent Alex Askew this month. Askew raised a very strong $80,500 this past quarter, and has over $130,000 in cash on hand. Compare that to his Republican opponent, and you’ll see a major difference; Karen Greenhalgh only raised $6,200 this past quarter and ended with only $12,339 in cash on hand. That difference in fundraising is massive and hurts Greenhalgh’s chances in this Biden+8 district.
- HD51 (Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic): This is an open seat, with incumbent Democrat Hala Ayala retiring to focus on her Lieutenant Governor run. At first, we saw this seat being potentially competitive. However, it seems the GOP has failed to recruit strongly here while Democrats have a strong recruit. Fundraising for Democratic candidate Brianna Sewell saw her raise $94,000 this past quarter, ending with $116,500 in cash on hand. That makes her one of the strongest non-incumbent Democratic fundraisers of the past quarter. The two Republican candidates on the other hand both failed to raise much at all. Jeff Dove raised only $12,000 this past quarter and ended with $11,300 COH. Tim Cox did even worse, raising only $8,600 and ending with only $3,200 COH. Sewell’s clear dominance in fundraising makes us feel confident in moving this to Likely Democratic.
- HD72 (Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic): This is fixing what we did last time to this seat. It appeared that no Republican had filed for this seat, but that turned out to be untrue. Since our decision making for the original switch was wrong, we have decided to put this seat back at Leans Democratic. However, Van Valkenburg has nearly $200,000 in COH after the last period, meaning he will be hard to beat. But until we know more about the two GOP candidates, we’re going back to our priors and rating this seat as Leans Democratic.
- HD12 (Leans Democratic to Tossup): Incumbent Democrat Chris Hurst does seem to have a decent challenge on his hand from Republican Jason Ballard. In this Biden+6 seat, Ballard raised nearly $50,000 with only a month and a half to fundraise. It’s enough to show that Ballard is a much more serious challenger to Hurst than his previous opponent. While Hurst is going to be hard to best, raising over $100,000 himself this quarter, this is definitely shaping up to be one of the more competitive races of the 2021 cycle.
- HD88 (Likely Republican to Safe Republican): This was a seat we mentioned last time as moving off the board. After the fundraising period, we feel comfortable doing so. Democratic nominee Ashton Spencer, who seems to be running some weird moderate Democratic, Lincoln Project-inspired campaign, raised less than the Libertarian candidate this past quarter. That total was $196 – that’s not a typo! For what is only a Trump +6 seat, that’s really bad. With controversial incumbent Matt Cole retired, this seat is moved off the board to Safe Republican for us.
Seats to watch
- HD-31: Elizabeth Guzmán dropped out of the LG race to focus on a strong primary challenge from Rod Hall here. Both had better fundraising than GOP candidate Ben Baldwin, but the questions of the Democratic primary remain. The results and reactions to that primary could send this seat in either direction, so we’re putting it on our watchlist.
- HD-40: GOP candidate Harold Pyon outraised Democratic incumbent Dan Helmer here this past quarter and finished with a solid 132,000 dollars in COH. This was a seat we originally saw as eternally Lean D, but Pyon shows he’s quite serious with a strong fundraising quarter. His connections to the Asian community in this district may help him make this race close, and it’s fair to put this as a race to watch.
- HD-28: Josh Cole showed up with another strong fundraising quarter, and fits this district well. Tara Durant did raise a decent 24,000 dollars for only having a month of fundraising, but will need to do better. Her campaign is also leaning decently into the culture war, an interesting strategy for this Biden +8 seat. That should make Cole happy, and unless Durant is shown to be able to keep up in fundraising, this seat can move in favor of Cole.