Shut out: Local Democrats come up short in House, Senate

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The dream of local Democrats to win at least one seat, maybe more, in the General Assembly came up short Tuesday, and honestly, it wasn’t close in any of the five contested races.

Brent Finnegan came closest, in his challenge to Republican incumbent Tony Wilt in the 26th House District, which includes Harrisonburg and western Rockingham County.

Finnegan won the vote in Harrisonburg by a 65.7 percent-34.1 percent margin, but Wilt took the county portion of the district by a 72.9 percent-27.0 percent margin, and won overall, 54.0 percent-45.9 percent, by a margin of 1,548 raw votes.

Jennifer Lewis had been expected to put up a strong challenge in the 20th District, which encompasses portions of Augusta and Nelson, Highland County, and the cities of Staunton and Waynesboro, in her race with Republican John Avoli.

Avoli prevailed with 57.4 percent of the vote, taking 74.6 percent in Augusta County, and a surprising 53.9 percent in Waynesboro, and a perhaps more surprising narrow loss in Nelson County, where he registered 49.0 percent.

Lewis needed to run up margins in the cities and Nelson County to be able to counter the expected strong showing for Avoli in Augusta and Highland, which Avoli won with 67.1 percent.

In the 24th House District, which includes portions of Augusta, Amherst, Rockingham, Bath and the cities of Buena Vista and Lexington, Christian Worth came up well short in her challenge to Republican incumbent Ronnie Campbell, garnering just 32.7 percent of the vote in that two-way race.

Emmett Hanger, a Republican, easily won re-election in the 24th Senate District, receiving 70.8 percent of the vote in his race with Democrat Annette Hyde.

The setbacks come against a backdrop of a projected historic night for Democrats statewide. As of 9:44 p.m., the New York Times was projecting a Democratic majority in the State Senate at 22-18, and a Democratic majority in the House of Delegates of 54-45-1.

Story by Chris Graham

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