Virginia’s struggle of a redistricting process is finally coming to an end. As I wrote previously, the Virginia Supreme Court’s special masters released three proposed maps a few weeks back. I discussed the congressional map, but I have to talk about the House of Delegates map.
The map the special masters drew ended up putting together 42 incumbent delegates of the same party together. That could lead to an insane amount of turnover in the lower body in either 2022 or 2023. Whenever the next House of Delegates election is, I will bet we will see many a new members as old ones are drawn together.
Biggest Winners and the Biggest Losers
I’ll start by saying that these maps are not final. Some changes will likely be made. However, I do not expect this map to change much from what we see now. Most incumbents that are drawn in will still be drawn in with someone.
In most of these areas, there are now open seats for incumbent Delegates to potentially move to. Only a couple in seats are really “drawn in”, where they have nowhere else to escape too. Similarly, Delegates like Wendy Gooditis, Michelle Maldonado and Rob Bell have all been drawn into harder or near impossible seats to hold with their current address.
Some Delegates however have been drawn into much nicer seats. Jason Ballard went from a narrow Biden seat to a heavily Trump seat in the southwest, likely cementing his place as a delegate for the next decade and then some. Mike Cherry was another Republican put in that position. He goes from a double-digit Biden seat to a double-digit Trump seat, also likely cementing his status as Delegate for a while.
Some Democrats also benefited from this, especially in NOVA. Delegates Danica Roem, Dan Helmer and Elizabeth Guzman are now in very safe seats up and down the ballot compared to their previous iterations. Rodney Willett in Henrico also got a much safer seat as well up and down the ballot, solidifying his place in the House.
Some benefit just by their seat staying similar in partisanship. The best example is Kim Taylor’s new district. It keeps a similar partisanship and is still trending rightward from 2016 to 2020. This likely keeps back a rematch with now former Delegate Lasharesce Aird in 2022/23.
What this means
There is a high chance we could see some big turnover in the House, more than what we’ve seen in recent years. Remember that legislators are not full time in Virginia. A good amount of these folks can’t just pick up and move to a new area. Unless they’re already retired, and even then they may not want to move. Why would they for a job that’s only bringing in just under $18,000 a year?
The map also brings in more competitive seats than previously. This will open up the gates for a new era of legislators in Virginia. Ones that could be younger, or at least better represent the surrounding areas. No matter what though, it will be fascinating to see the effects of this map when it’s finally implemented.