After a slightly shorter night than most expected, Virginia democrats officially nominated their statewide ticket. No real surprises occurred, only a slight upset from Hala Ayala over Sam Rasoul for the LG nomination. With all the votes counted, Virginia democrats have nominated Terry McAuliffe, Ayala and Mark Herring for Governor, LG, and Attorney General respectively. The real surprises on the night came in the form of 5 incumbent delegates losing renomination bids. That’s a new record in Virginia. With the night, we also have 5 HOD rating changes for you.
Democrats Nominate an All-NOVA Statewide Ticket
For the statewide races, there isn’t much to analyze. Terry McAuliffe dominated to get the gubernatorial nomination for the second time in his life. He won every county and city in the state. Questions will be asked about whether Jennifer Carroll-Foy can stay relevant now that she’s officially out of government. Jennifer McClellan will head back to her state senate seat, Justin Fairfax leaves politics in shame, and we’ll get to Lee Carter later.
The Attorney General’s race was closer than people thought it would be going into the night. Boosted by an endorsement from Governor Northam, Jay Jones cleaned up on Virginia’s coast. But Jones was unable to break through Mark Herring’s margins in Northern Virginia, with Herring getting over 70% in both Loudoun and Fairfax counties. However, with Jones returning to his state house seat and losing by only 13 points, he’s put himself in position to come back in 2025, and he’s someone who is young enough to have statewide and national ambitions as a politician. If you want a candidate to watch for the future, he’s the one.
The only slight surprise of the night statewide came in the form of the Lieutenant Governor’s primary. Shunned by the Washington Post and with Clean Virginia coming after her at the end, Hala Ayala wasn’t seen as a favorite going into the night. But, armed with the endorsement of Governor Northam, Ayala surprisingly romped to a double-digit win over her closest opponent, delegate Sam Rasoul. There was a heavy geographical divide in this race, with Rasoul dominating the west and Ayala dominating the east. The most interesting thing though, is that Ayala’s home base of NOVA didn’t drive her huge win. It was large margins in the Richmond suburbs and in the Eastern Shore/Norfolk/Virginia Beach area that made her the winner so early in the night.
I don’t think this all-NOVA ticket will hurt the Democrats, or at least not in margins that would matter. It’s certainly not perfect, and it does give Republicans an open attack line. The NOVA/ROVA divide has only gotten more obvious in the past couple years, and that does lead to some tension. But I think an all male ticket would have been worse for the Virginia Democrats, especially with Winsome Sears getting the LG nominee for the Republicans. I think Democrats worried about this are looking too deep. Now, if I was talking about my home state of Pennsylvania, sure. But Virginia does not have the similar geographical voting patters. That aspect of the ticket will be fine.
Five Incumbents Lose, the Most Ever in the House of Delegates Primary Season
What the real story turned out to be Tuesday night were the five incumbent delegates that fell in their respective primaries. Four Democrats and one Republican failed to be renominated by their districts. Three were decently expected. The one Republican knocked off was Charles Poindexter in HD-09. Poindexter lost to Wren Williams, a more right-wing and far younger candidate. This is a Safe Republican seat, so Williams may fit the district a bit better than Poindexter did.
Two of the four Democrats who lost were expected to be in trouble coming into the night. Steve Heretick, who was recently deposed in a fraud case, lost to 26 year old, DSA-endorsed Nadarius Clark. And Mark Levine lost to Alexandria Vice Mayor Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, who also ran to Levine’s left, in HD-45. Both of these results were slightly expected going into the night due to Heretick’s ethics issues and Levine focus on the LG primary.
The two stunners, however, saw two of the caucus’s most vocal leftist members get knocked out. First, the notorious Lee Carter lost his delegate primary to Michelle Maldonado by 200 votes. Carter got destroyed in the gubernatorial primary and that bled into his delegate race. The second surprising result was Ibraheem Samirah losing to Irene Shin in HD-86. Both ran as progressives, but Shin did run as the more establishment-friendly progressive. Samirah had given the caucus headaches before and was against members of the establishment.
With all the nominees set and the most recent campaign finance period over with, we have 5 House of Delegates ratings changes:
- HD-28 (Tossup to Leans Democratic): This is one I pointed out could change in our last update. GOP candidate Tara Durant hasn’t been keeping up with incumbent Josh Cole in fundraising. Add on ole’s current strengths as a candidate, plus Durant running a campaign heavy on social issues not popular in a district like this, and we feel comfortable moving it to Leans Democratic. However, this is a seat that could snap back and if polling shows a tight race, it could end up back in the Tossup category.
- HD-31 (Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic): With Elizabeth Guzmán renominated and having a solid war chest behind her, we have moved this further off the board for Republicans. While GOP nominee Ben Baldwin isn’t a poor candidate, his fundraising has been lackluster. Add that with Guzmán having the incumbency advantage and this is a Likely Democratic seat.
- HD-50 (Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic): This is one we would’ve changed even if Carter had won renomination in part due to local Republicans nominating Steve Pleickhardt over Mike Allers for this seat. Allers had a decent profile for a candidate and was a moderate, which is needed in a seat like this. Plus Pleickhardt’s fundraising has been near non-existent. This decision was only made easier by Carter losing renomination Tuesday night.
- HD-72 (Leans Democratic to Likely Democratic): This one heads back into the Likely Democratic column. Republican fundraising has even non-existent here, and that issue is exasperated more against the large war chest of incumbent Schuyler VanValkenburg. The left swing of this seat, combined with Republicans not contesting it seriously and the strength of VanValkenburg as a candidate, means this seat is likely off the board for Republicans.
- HD-83 (Tossup to Leans Democratic): This was a Tossup based on the possibility that former delegate Chris Stolle could be the GOP nominee here. He proceeded to run a weak campaign and lost to Amanda Chase’s lawyer by 30 votes. Not a great exchange for the Republicans in this area, and this seat is now favored to be a Democratic hold.