It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Sorry about the wait from primary day, but that did not move the needle on any races. So I waited for the fundraising period and got… not much there either. I do however, have four changes in our ratings for you today. Two from the House of Delegates and two from the State Senate, all favoring Republicans this time. I will also be listing some races to keep an eye on in the near future.
Republicans See Favorable Shifts in Four Races, Including Crucial 27th Senate District
- SD-04, Roanoke Area (Likely Republican to Safe Republican): This was a race on the precipice of competitiveness of the first place. Thought to be the long shot seat target for Democrats this year, but with how the map is shaping up, it seems it won’t even be that. Unlike other targets, Democratic nominee Trish White-Boyd got zero support from the caucus or any member of the Democrats caucus. After talking to some VA Democrat insiders, the news is that Democrats are not planning on seriously contesting this seat. With incumbent David Sutterlein having both a deep monetary advantage and the incumbency advantage, this race has fallen off the board at this point. It could certainly still come back on the board, if White-Boyd sees a sudden gain in resources and activity. However, that seems unlikely at this moment and time, and it seems Virginia Democrats see it the same way.
- SD-27, Fredericksburg Area (Tossup to Leans Republican): This was a change I said would come if Tara Durant won the GOP nomination. Durant proceeded to win the GOP nomination. That was good news for Republicans, even as Democrats chose their stronger nominee in Joel Griffin as well. The added stitch in this race is the inclusion of independent Monica Gary. Gary, who is a current elected official as a county supervisor, is seemingly set to run a campaign set to the left-of-center rather than the right-of-center. That likely means she will take more votes from Griffin than Durant. Now, Gary could still drop out before early voting starts, which could reset the race. But of the four key senate seats, this was the one Republicans had the greatest baked in advantage. And with Durant now their nominee, their chance here is stronger than under other scenarios.
House of Delegates
- HD-66, Caroline & Spotsylvania Counties (Likely Republican to Safe Republican): This one is just pure attention. While Democrats seem to be paying attention to some outside shot races (HD-30, HD-41, HD-71), this is not one of them. Mark Lux has no website and no money to run a competitive race. This is a race that could have been one where Democrats had an outside shot going into election night. That just hasn’t materialized however, and this race heads off the board.
- HD-84, Suffolk Area (Likely Democratic to Leans Democratic): This is the one I really went back and forth on. Republicans outvoted Democrats in the primary here back on June 20th, raising some eyebrows. Now, it should be said- Republicans had a Senate primary in the area while Democrats did not. But, in a part of the state where Democrats have struggled with turnout in these off off year races and inside a Senate seat where Democrats are concerned about the state of their candidates campaign, I think it’s a fair change to highlight the uncertainty of the race. GOP nominee Mike Dillender also seems to be set to get strong caucus backing, which will be needed to compete against Nadarius Clark, a proven strong fundraiser.
Ones To Watch
- HD-41, Roanoke County, Blacksburg (Likely Republican): GOP nominee Chris Obenshain has been surprisingly weak in his fundraising for this seat since winning the nomination. This is with Democratic opponent Lily Franklin having continually successful fundraising periods. This is a narrow Trump seat, so its place here still makes sense. But Franklin is running a very serious campaign with an educated voting base that may be more likely to turnout in these elections. Obenshain, and the VA GOP caucus should be aware and be prepared in case, or risk this race being much closer than it should be.
- HD-64, Stafford County (Likely Republican): Paul Milde is a notorious underperformer. That’s why this seat is even on the board currently. And with two very mediocre to bad fundraising cycles in a row, one worries if Milde is resting on his laurels too much. This should not be a seat with any worries – even Abigail Spanberger lost it by four. But there’s reason to not trust Milde and Leonard Lacey seems to be running a decent campaign. Again, never rest on your laurels – the GOP should keep an eye on this seat to make sure Milde doesn’t underperform expectations as he has before.
- SD-17, Southside Virginia & Suffolk City (Tossup): This is a race that early on, Democrats seemed to get their top nominee choice. Clint Jenkins, the Suffolk-area Delegate, was really the only solid member of the Democrats bench in this area after Roz Tyler was struck down by Otto Wachsmann in 2021. Understandably, Democrats were excited for his campaign. However, early reports have brought on questions. Jenkins has come under criticism for not building up a financial warchest in the past six months. With Emily Brewer and Hermie Sadler locked in a competitive primary until last month, Jenkins instead sat on his laurels and raised little money nor any sense of a campaign team. With this seat being the only seat of the core five that is trending away from Democrats, some analysts and insiders have even taken the step of arguing that Democrats are bigger underdogs here than in the Stafford-based 27th. I’m not there yet, but I’m keeping my eyes and ears on this race and its developments.
- SD-30, Western Prince William, Manassas City, Manassas Park (Likely Democratic): I thought about moving this race to Safe Democratic. Like Trish White-Boyd in SD-04, GOP nominee Bill Woolf is down pretty significantly in the money game to Democrats nominee Delegate Danica Roem. However, unlike with what I heard from Democratic insiders, Republican insiders have emphatically told me support in the form of caucus backing is coming for Woolf. Now, are they BS’ing me? It’s possible, but their emphatic defense compared to the reaction I got regarding White-Boyd makes the difference. There’s also the point that this seat contains the crucial HD-21, a seat that could very well decide the majority. Are Republicans really going to triage a Senate seat in an area where they need to win a House seat? I doubt that too, which is why I think I believe GOP insiders when they say Woolf will get caucus backing. I’ll need to see it in some pretty big checks when September rolls around and the next finance reports to keep it here though.