Home Analysis: Can Democrats pick up seats in local General Assembly races?

Analysis: Can Democrats pick up seats in local General Assembly races?

Democrats Republicans
Photo Credit: jgroup

Democrats have decent chances to flip three seats in House of Delegates races in the Central Shenandoah Valley.

The best chance is in the 20th House District, where Democrat Jennifer Lewis faces Republican John Avoli for a seat in a district encompassing two cities, Waynesboro and Staunton, and four Democratic-leaning precincts in Nelson County.

The seat is considered an open seat, because incumbent Dickie Bell is not running for re-election.

As of the 2010 Census, there were 79,334 residents in the 20th – 23,746 in Staunton, 21,006 in Waynesboro, 2,321 in Highland County, roughly 6,000 in the Nelson County precincts, and roughly 26,000 in the Augusta County precincts.

The Augusta County and Highland County precincts went almost 70 percent for Bell in 2017, but the rest of the district runs from toss-up to strong-Dem

In the 2018 election cycle, Republican congressional candidate Denver Riggleman won a slim majority in the Nelson precincts, but Democrat Tim Kaine won a stronger majority in the Senate vote. There was a similar split in Waynesboro, with Kaine winning the Senate vote and Republican congressional candidate Ben Cline winning a tight majority down ticket.

Staunton, meanwhile, gave strong majorities to both Kaine and Democratic congressional candidate Jennifer Lewis, after giving a solid majority to Michele Edwards, the Democratic nominee in the 20th in 2017 in her challenge of Bell, a former four-term member of Staunton City Council, which is to say, the native son.

Edwards ended up getting 42.6 percent of the vote in the 2017 race against Bell, running for his fifth term.

Democrats also have a solid chance in the 26th House District, which is a rematch from 2017 between Republican incumbent Tony Wilt and Democratic challenger Brent Finnegan.

Interesting dynamic here: the district is half Harrisonburg vote, half Rockingham County vote.

Finnegan won the city with 63.6 percent of the vote; Wilt won the county with 72.9 percent, and won overall by 1,872 votes.

Expect that one to be a nail-biter on Election Night.

Next we look at the race in the 24th House District, where Democrat Christian Worth has a significant advantage in campaign fundraising over the Republican incumbent, Ronnie Campbell – $150,711 to $84,504 as of the latest campaign reports, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

This one is also a rematch of a January special election won by Campbell with just under 60 percent of the vote.

Worth’s fundraising prowess could make this one interesting, but the district profile – which includes portions of Augusta, Amherst, Bath, Rockbridge, and two small cities, Buena Vista and Lexington – is strong Republican.

Two other local races are long shots for Democrats – in the 24th Senate District, where Republican Emmett Hanger appears to be safe in his race with Democrat Annette Hyde, and in the 25th House District, an open seat, with incumbent Steve Landes not standing for re-election, but the district is a strong Republican district, and Republican Chris Runion should be a heavy favorite in his race with Democrat Jennifer Kitchen.

Story by Chris Graham



Have a guest column, letter to the editor, story idea or a news tip? Email editor Chris Graham at [email protected]. Subscribe to AFP podcasts on Apple PodcastsSpotifyPandora and YouTube.