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11 Most Important Nomination Contests in Virginia

I thought you might find this list, that is published by Virginia FREE, of what they view as the 11 most competitive and consequential General Assembly primary election contests for 2019 and their predicted outcomes of these contests at this point in time:

11 Most Important Nomination Contests in Virginia

1. Senator Barbara Favola v. Nicole Merlene This primary is THE most important one in the cycle. It will show the real divide in the Democratic party because of the location of the district - Northern Virginia suburbs and also that a well known, well respected relatively pro—business Democratic incumbent is being challenged by only one opponent from the left. Favola is the favorite right now and should win. The key to this race is the margin of victory. Set the O/U for Favola at 65%. If she over performs that, Favola would be able to make a credible run at Lt. Governor in 2021. If Merlene gets over 35% and even 40%, the Democratic establishment will have been given final warning nationwide that its days are numbered. Likely Favola

2. Senator Emmett Hanger v. Tina Freitas Senator Hanger has withstood several nomination challenges in the past and should weather this one from Tina Freitas, wife of Delegate Nick Freitas. 75% of the district is on Hanger’s side of the Blue Ridge and Freitas got in a little late to get over 50% of the vote. Conservatives in the GOP are often flummoxed by Hanger but never antagonized. Hanger is a throw back to the Mountain Valley Republicans who votes conservative on social issues while being unafraid of supporting tax increases, but he also has a voting record supporting tax cuts. Freitas will run a credible campaign and be in an excellent position to win her husband’s House seat should he decide to run for Congress as has been rumored. This race will test the strength of center-right Republicans in the Trump GOP. Likely Hanger

3. Delegate Lee Carter v. Mark Wolfe Democratic Socialist Lee Carter defeated Republican Jackson Miller in the Trump Tsuburban Tsunami election of 2017 54.3 to 45.5. Democrats have recruited former Republican and current Manassas City Councilman Mark Wolfe to challenge Carter who threatens to move their party too far to the Left. This primary should be competitive and it would shock few if Wolfe pulls the upset in the 50th. This nomination will also show political observers in which direction the Democratic Party is headed but given the dynamics and geography just not as much as Favola/Merlene. This race will be more competitive than Favola’s and is currently rated as a Toss Up.

4. Delegate Chris Peace v. Scott Wyatt Similar to other nomination battles within the GOP, the 97th House district pits incumbent Peace against Hanover Supervisor Scott Wyatt. However, this race is a convention which could make for a more interesting challenge than the Hanger/Freitas contest. Peace has the upper hand but anything can happen in convention fights. Wyatt’s objection to Peace is his vote to expand Medicaid. As such, this race will boil down to a single issue which had a better chance of making a dent with President Trump recently pledging to have Obamacare repealed via the courts - again. Since Trump reversed course on that strategy, the air could have been let out of all three Medicaid Expansion nomination trial balloons. Likely Peace.

5. Senator Dick Saslaw v. Yasmine Taeb and Karen Torrent Senator Saslaw has served in the General Assembly since 1976 and is widely respected on both sides fo the aisle. This nomination would be #2 behind Senator Favola’s but since this is a three way race, Saslaw should win handily; however, 65% is still the national barometer in the 35th as well. Taking no chances, Saslaw has knocked on over 7,000 doors so far and will have dropped twenty mail pieces into the district by the primary. Likely Saslaw

6. Delegate Bob Thomas v. Paul Milde This nomination is a blend of the Hanger and Peace challengers in that Medicaid Expansion seems to be the issue; however, Thomas is far more vulnerable due to the fact that he is still in his first term. Paul Milde is a Stafford County Supervisor who looks to have raised a good bit of money until one realizes he loaned almost all the money to the campaign. The real question in this race and the other Republican nomination fights will be “Is the Republican base THAT upset about Medicaid Expansion?” We’ll see on June 11. Currently Leans Thomas

7. Senator Lynwood Lewis v. Willie Randall Senator Lewis is being challenged by Randall who has run and lost twice for the House of Delegates against Republican Rob Bloxom. Randall received almost 48% of the vote in the 2017 House race - a six point improvement from their 2015 match up. Senate District 6 is made up of 60% from the City of Norfolk. This race rates Lean Lewis and will show its importance nationally in identity politics within the Democratic Party if African American voters in the district go with incumbent Lewis or the African American challenger Randall. Leans Lewis

8. Delegate Alfonso Lopez v JD Spain This race will difficult to handicap before the fundraising reports come out; however, it will be another important view into the Democratic Party. Like the other two-way races, set the barometer at 65% and grab some popcorn if the super activists bite on stories that the purported Lopez/ICE link gets legs. If not, it will show that the super activists are not that influential in the Democratic Party after all other than making a lot of noise. Likely Lopez

9. Delegate Kaye Kory v. Andres Jimenez Another hard to handicap race ahead of the fundraising reports, but Kory is in a stronger position that Lopez. This race is probably a closer election that Lopez’s because the challenger Jimenez, according very reliable Democratic sources, is working harder than JD Spain. The question is how hard is Kory actually working? Likely Kory

10. Senator Bryce Reeves v. Rich Breeden and Danielle Gibeson Three way race helps the incumbent Reeves here; however, one has to wonder what the concerns are within the district that he would draw two primary opponents when Reeves has excellent conservative credentials. Similar to Democratic nominations the real race for Reeves is over 65 at this stage as importance of this race is the power of GOP incumbents in the era of the Trump Republican Party. Likely Reeves

11. Senator Frank Ruff v. Matthew Kelly and Dale Sturdifen Here we go again. Long time incumbent, Frank Ruff, is being challenged by two primary opponents. There is always some party base faction that wants to rule the district roost, but two opponents split that group and sets the goal at 65% for Ruff. This is an important nomination with respect to the incumbent Rural Republicans that are a key strength of the Trump base of the GOP. Ruff was first elected in 1994 to the General Assembly and has to date not antagonized conservatives. Likely Ruff.

You can find more information on Virginia Free at:  Virginia FREE

Please let me know if you have any questions on this. Regards, Phil

Philip F. Abraham
Director and General Counsel
The Vectre Corporation