The Virginia State Senate is expected to be one of the most competitive chambers in the country this year. With the four clearly races outlined, and not much to watch outside of that, we don’t anticipate major shakeups before the final decisions before Election Day. We do have two changes for you this month however, both in favor of Republicans.
- SD-04 (Incumbent David Sutterlein, R) – Leans Republican to Likely Republican: This is a very narrow Trump seat in the Roanoke area that we hedged on as we waited for the official decision of long time Democratic Senator John Edwards on his retirement. Edwards confirmed his retirement, and without his incumbency, it puts Democrats at a greater disadvantage in this race. That’s not to say Democrats are totally out of it; I fully expect Roanoke City Council members Trish Boyd-White or Luke Priddy to be decently funded and put up a fight. However, that does not take away the fact that this will be a harder fight without Edwards than with him.
- SD-20 (Incumbent Bill DeSteph, R) – Likely Republican to Safe Republican: This was a much easier change. While it briefly looked like Democrat Lynwood Lewis would try his luck in this seat, he ended up retiring. Without his longstanding incumbency on the Eastern Shore, this seat becomes an incredible challenge for Virginia Democrats this cycle. The party and donors seem to share that thinking as well. Democratic Party challenger Victoria Luevanos raised only $1,300 this cycle. That’s not gonna keep you competitive in an already long shot raise. Barring scandal or surprise, we expect Bill DeSteph to return to the state senate.
Seats to Watch
- SD-27 (OPEN): This Biden+5.5, Youngkin+8 seat that includes most of Stafford County, all of Fredericksburg and parts of Northern Spotsylvania is a race that is one of the most dependent on a primary. Republicans have a choice between incumbent Delegate Tara Durant or Matt Strickland, an Amanda Chase-endorsed restauranteur best known for skiving COVID restrictions and railing against Governor Youngkin. The choice seems obvious to me (Durant), but some are worried that Strickland could pull off an upset here. If he does, that keeps the race squarely in Tossup range. If Durant wins, this race arguably becomes a Leans Republican seat, especially with the inclusion of left-leaning independent Monica Gary. Democrats have their own primary as well, with businessman Joe Griffin facing off against area organizer Ben Litchfield. That primary is also taking a moderate (Griffin) versus progressive (Litchfield) path, making this one of the more interesting seats as a whole to watch this cycle.
- SD-30 (OPEN): This is a seat on the edge of competitiveness, as we have it rated Likely Democratic currently. Delegate Danica Roem has an edge on campaign time and a big one in fundraising with both current GOP candidates getting in relatively late in the Q1 period. This one shifting to Safe Democratic will depend on two things. First, if either GOP candidate can show self funding or fundraising chops. And second, if GOP primary voters nominate Bill Woolf over Bob Ruffalo, that’s the choice that would keep this seat on the board. If it’s Ruffalo, he is likely too conservative to make this seat a race. So I’m gonna wait and see on those two things before deciding whether to move this seat off the board or not.