RICHMOND, Va. -- Off-year General Assembly elections do not typically move the needle for most voters, but that is far from the case in 2019. With a thin Republican majority on the line, the stakes for the future of Virginia's state house have not been this high in many years.
Following the "Blue Wave" election in 2017, fueled in part by the election of President Donald Trump, Democrats almost completely eliminated a near Republican super-majority in the House. Virginia Democrats are eyeing key races in suburban areas across the state, including Richmond, to continue that momentum and flip control of the legislature in their favor.
With Democratic Governor Ralph Northam in the Executive Mansion, control of both chambers would mean Democrats could finally pursue their key agenda items, like gun control and anti-discrimination policy, many liberals feel Republicans have long scuttled.
Republicans are fighting against demographic changes across Virginia, but are not backing down from the election year fight.
Republican leaders have pointed to sound budgeting decision, teacher pay raises, and tax reform as examples of their effective leadership. Also, Virginia conservatives anticipate backlash from blackface scandals involving Northam (D) and Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring, plus sexual assault allegations against Democratic Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax will help dampen the enthusiasm Democrats felt coming into 2019.
In the House of Delegates, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year found 2011 maps were racially gerrymandered, so court-drawn maps are in place for this election that make it harder for Republicans to defend their majority, nonpartisan studies found.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 5, and all 140 seats in the General Assembly are up for grabs. Republicans hold a 20-19 margin in the State Senate and a 51-48 margin in the House of Delegates.
The party that wins control in November will control the state budgeting process, heavily influence the outcome of a special session on gun violence prevention scheduled to resume after the election, and lead the process to redraw Virginia legislative and congressional maps following the 2020 census.
An April survey by the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University found voters were "tuned into" the upcoming elections. The party that best harnesses that enthusiasm come November will likely wield power in Richmond in the years to come, the study said.
In order to help Central Virginia voters get informed on the candidates running in their area, CBS 6 has compiled this General Assembly 2019 voter guide. Below you will find a brief synopsis of each candidate, the key stances they have taken, links to their campaign websites, and break downs of how each district has voted in recent elections.
NOTE: This guide is focused on races impacting the Central Virginia/Richmond Metro region. Since all 140 seats are on the ballot, you can find more information on races in other parts of the state by clicking here.
Virginia House of Delegates
House District 27 (Chesterfield and Richmond)
Incumbent Roxann Robinson (R), an optometrist by trade, has represented the 27th district since 2010. Recently, she was chosen to serve on the House select committee on school safety after the Parkland, Florida school shooting in 2018 and was the chief patron on the bill that basically eliminated the "King's Dominion Law" in Virginia, which now allows local school boards to decide when to begin the school year. Robinson's campaign champions her work on education reform and stopping tax increases in order to unlock the potential of small businesses.
Challenger Larry Barnett (D) is a mental health professional who challenged Del. Robinson for the seat two years ago. Del. Robinson prevailed by only 128 votes in the "Blue Wave" election of 2017 in a district that has been controlled by Republicans since 1987. Barnett is focusing his platform on improving mental healthcare based off his professional experience and supporting positions favored by most Democrats when it comes to gun control and the environment.
District 27 voted for President Trump by four percentage points in 2016 but has leaned toward Democrats in every state wide election since, according to VPAP.
Barnett has $249,584 cash on hand compared to Robinson's $162,974, VPAP reports.
House District 55 (Hanover, Caroline, Spotsylvania)
Incumbent Hyland “Buddy” Fowler (R) is a small business owner who has represented the 55th district since 2013. Fowler currently serves on the House Finance, General Laws, and Privileges and Elections committees. His campaign website touts efforts to "keep taxes low" and support for law enforcement professionals to help keep communities safe.
Morgan Goodman (D) is again challenging Fowler for the seat after losing to him in 2017 by a wide margin. Goodman, who has worked on environmental issues in government and non-profit roles, says protecting the environment and improving public school are her top issues. She writes on her campaign website that politicians need to "listen more than they talk."
Republicans have controlled the district since the early 1980's. The GOP has long dominated statewide elections in the 55th district.
Fowler has more money heading into the final weeks of the campaign than Goodman does, $44,368 to $28,047, according to VPAP.
House District 56 (Henrico, Goochland, Louisa, Spotsylvania)
Incumbent John McGuire (R) served as a Navy SEAL and is the founder of the popular SEAL Team PT training team. McGuire won the seat in 2017, and during two sessions in the legislature, has filed multiple bills aimed at helping the localities he represents make changes at the state level. McGuire's campaign writes that he believes "teamwork is one of the biggest keys to success in life." On key policy issues like tax reform and gun policy, McGuire generally sides with Republican positions.
Challenger Juanita Joe Matkins (D) is a former public school teacher and college professor, who has received an endorsement from U.S. Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger. Matkins is focusing her campaign around education reform issues, like raising teacher pay and expanding career and technical training, and supports expanding broadband to rural communities.
McGuire won the district by nearly 20 percentage points in 2017, and Republicans have held the seat since 2001. Republican candidates have won the district by wide margins in every statewide election recently.
Both candidates have a similar amount of cash to spend heading into the close of the campaign, $49,147 for McGuire and $49,220 for Matkins, according to VPAP.
House District 61 (Chesterfield, Amelia, Mecklenburg, Lunenburg, Nottoway, Cumberland)
Incumbent Thomas Wright (R) has represented the district since 2001 and, more often than not, has not faced a challenger for the seat. Wright currently serves as the chair of the House Military, Militia, and Police committee. During the 2019 session, Wright sponsored a bill that requires local school districts to collaborate with public safety and emergency officials in developing and reviewing emergency response and preparedness plans.
Challenger Trudy Bell Berry (D) served in the U.S. Air Force, as a civil servant, and a defense department contractor. The mother of five lists healthcare, environment, education, and the economy has her top priorities. Berry has spoken out on social media against companies like Dominion Energy.
Republicans have controlled the seat since 1993, and in recent history, dramatically favors Republicans in statewide elections.
Wright is leading when it comes to funding available, $75,966 to $2,399, according to VPAP.
House District 62 (Chesterfield, Prince George, Hopewell)
Del. Riley Ingram retired after representing the district since 1992. Two candidates are facing off for the seat in a district that has favored Republican candidates for many years.
Carrie Emerson Coyner (R) is a business and real estate lawyer who has served on the Chesterfield County School Board for seven years. Coyner is basing her campaign off what her campaign website says are "seven years of results" on the school board, speaking to housing and educational issues and fighting for equity in Chesterfield schools.
Lindsey Dougherty (D) won the Democratic primary in June. The budget and management analyst for Chesterfield County said she decided to run for office after her husband lost her job and her child was diagnosed with a serious medical condition that insurance companies would not cover. Dougherty campaign says their top priority is building up diverse communities in the district.
The last time a Democrat represented the district was 1989. In statewide elections since 2013, Republicans have won the district the majority of the time, with the exception of Senator Tim Kaine in 2018 and then Lt. Governor Ralph Northam in 2013. Both Kaine and Northam faced what some observers considered weak Republican opponents in those races.
Coyner's campaign has been spending on TV ad buys and other items, while Doughtery saw an influx in cash contributions last quarter. Coyner still leads in cash available, $122,570 compared to Dougherty's $58,781.
House District 63 (Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Petersburg)
Incumbent Lashrecse Aird (D) was the youngest woman ever elected to the General Assembly when she won the seat in 2015 and at least one local editorial board called her a "rising star" in Richmond political circles. Aird has been outspoken on gun violence and financial distress in the communities she represents. Following the scandals involving the three top elected Democrats in Virginia's executive branch, Aird stood with the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus calling for resignations.
Retired Chesterfield County Registrar Larry Haake (I) is challenging Aird. Haake told the Progress-Index he feels portions of the 63rd district have not been properly represented in Virginia. He recently sent a letter to Governor Northam asking the state to fully fund elections instead of reimbursing localities for 70-80% of the costs.
Since at least 1947, a Democrat has represented the 63rd district.
Aird holds a significant fundraising lead, $78,789 to $6,683.
House District 64 (Isle of Wight, Prince George, Surry, Sussex, Suffolk)
Incumbent Emily Brewer (R) won the seat in 2017. During the 2019 session, Brewer was the chief patron of a bill that makes it a misdemeanor to manipulate caller identification information, known as phone "spoofing." Her campaign website says Brewer is a principled conservative, supporting small business growth and second amendment rights.
Michelle Joyce (D) is challenging Brewer, and writes that she got into the race to protect health care rights. This mission stems from her personal experience with a neighbor who could not qualify for Medicaid. The computer scientist from Smithfield said divisive partisan politics are getting in the way of helping people.
Republicans have controlled the seat since 2011, and GOP candidates have won the district easily in every statewide election of late.
Brewer is way ahead in fundraising dollars, $39,451 to $7,933, according to VPAP.
House District 65 (Chesterfield, Goochland, Powhatan, Fluvanna)
Incumbent Lee Ware (R) first represented the district in 1998 and has held the seat ever since. Ware is the chairman of the House Finance committee, which considers bills dealing with the financial policy of the state and aids in the budget process. Ware is a retired school teacher, and his campaign website states he "eschews ideological rigidity while adhering to principles grounded in history and experience."
Challenger Mike Asip (D) retired from a career in teaching and education. Asip lists quality public education, affordable health care, and rural broadband access as his top three priorities. Asip, like many Virginia Democrats, has sworn off campaign contributions from publicly regulated utilities like Dominion Energy.
Since 1982, Republicans have represented the 65th district in the House of Delegates. VPAP lists the district as "strong Republican," and GOP candidates in statewide races have secured wide margins of victory for many years.
Ware holds a dramatic fundraising lead of $108,998 to Asip's $6,990, VPAP reports.
House District 66 (Chesterfield, Richmond, Colonial Heights)
Incumbent Kirk Cox (R) has represented the district since 1990, and in 2018, was unanimously elected as the Speaker of the House of Delegates. In his role as Speaker, Cox is the most powerful elected Republican in the General Assembly, controlling where proposed legislation is assigned in the House and who sits on legislative committees. His campaign staff is promoting Speaker Cox as a "hometown" guy, a former public school teacher and baseball coach focused now on serving his constituents and Virginia.
Challenger Sheila Bynum-Coleman (D) is a mother of five, small business owner, and Democratic activist. Bynum-Coleman challenged Del. Riley Ingram (R) in the 62nd District in 2017, losing by less than 1,000 votes. She lists ending gun violence, women's rights, environment, and criminal justice reform as her top priorities.
Challenger L.K. Harris (I) is an Army veteran, retired police officer, and substitute teacher. Harris writes he supports a citizen's rights to bear arms, with the exception of assault-style rifles.
Speaker Cox has represented the district for nearly two decades, but after federal courts ruled Virginia's 2011 House of Delegates map was racially gerrymandered in parts, court-drawn maps have made the district competitive. VPAP reports the maps used for this election give Democrats a 6.5 point advantage in the district compared to the original 2011 maps, which favored Republicans by 25.5 points. Under the current map, Democrats won the district in all but one statewide election since 2013.
The new level of potential competitiveness in the district has caused money to pour into the race. In the closing weeks of the campaign, Speaker Cox has $590,172 in campaign funds on hand, Bynum-Coleman has $341,463 and Harris $1,238, VPAP reports.
House District 68 (Chesterfield, Richmond, Henrico)
Incumbent Dawn Adams (D) upset Del. Manoli Loupassi (R) by 333 votes in the wave election of 2017 that allowed Democrats to chisel away at the Republican majority in the House of Delegates. Adams is a nurse practitioner and positioned herself as an advocate for access to affordable health care and protecting the environment. Adams has faced controversy since assuming her seat. A former campaign staffer accused the delegate of hacking into her social media and bank accounts, and Republicans raised alarm after she decided to keep her job at a state agency while also serving in the legislature, according to reports.
Challenger Garrison Coward (R) grew up in Chesterfield County and serves as the COO of a local data analytics firm. As a millennial and African American, Virginia GOP leaders have said Coward represents the kind of candidate the party wants to promote in the suburbs. For instance, Coward's public safety positions include providing law enforcement with needed resources to curb street crime and encouraging community dialogue around criminal justice reform.
The 68th district encompasses both urban and suburban portions of Richmond, Henrico, and Chesterfield, and voters in the district have favored both Republicans and Democrats in recent statewide elections. Since the 2016 Presidential race, Democrats have the edge, but court-ordered redistricting has made it slightly more Republican, VPAP reports. The non-partisan organizations lists District 68 as "competitive."
Adams has posted a final fundraising total of $235,570 compared to Coward's $23,104 in cash on hand.
House District 69 (Chesterfield, Richmond)
Incumbent Betsy Carr (D) is the only candidate to qualify for the ballot in November. Carr won the seat in 2009 and has cruised to victory every year since in a district that is a stronghold for Democrats.
House District 70 (Chesterfield, Richmond, Henrico, Charles City)
Incumbent Delores McQuinn (D) is the only candidate to qualify for the ballot in November. McQuinn has represented the district since 2009, and voters overwhelming favor Democrats.
House District 71 (Richmond, Henrico)
Incumbent Jeff Bourne (D) won a special election to represent the district in 2017 and won re-election later that same year. Prior to his time in the legislature, Bourne served on the Richmond School Board and as a deputy Attorney General handling transportation, real estate, and construction lawsuits. As a delegate, Bourne has pushed to end the school to prison pipeline, criminal justice reforms, and housing discrimination issues.
Challenger Peter Wells (L) previously ran against Congressman Donald McEachin (D) for his seat in 2018. Among his stances listed his website, Wells includes recreational marijuana legalization and alcohol beverage deregulation as priorities.
Democrats have cruised to victory in statewide elections of late in District 71.
Bourne has raised $46,870, while Wells has not reported any fundraising dollars, according to VPAP.
House District 72 (Henrico)
Incumbent Schuyler VanValkenburg (D), a teacher at Glen Allen High School, was part of the 2017 "Blue Wave" election in the House of Delegates, winning a district represented by Republicans for nearly two decades. On top of prioritizing education funding and teacher pay, Van Valkenburg has taken positions in support of reproductive rights and green initiatives.
Challenger GayDonna Vandergriff (R) serves on various community boards in Henrico and works as a substitute teacher. The mother of two writes her campaign plans to focus on "solutions and leadership" instead of political bickering. Vandergriff supports increasing technical education, protecting religious freedom, and advocating for mental health services.
Two years ago, VanValkenburg ended a nearly two decade Republican stronghold on district 72. Since Ed Gillespie (R) won the district in the 2014 U.S. Senate race, voters have strongly favored Democrats in each statewide election. While VPAP lists the district as competitive, court-ordered redistricting gave Democrats a slight advantage.
VanValkenburg has $206,526 in campaign funds compared to Vandergriff's $38,133.
House District 73 (Richmond, Henrico)
Del. Debra Rodman (D) won the district in 2017 that was once represented by former U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R). Rodman decided to run for State Senate in 2019, leaving two people vying for the seat.
Mary Margaret Kastleberg (R) is former finance executive. Kastleberg cites improving Henrico County schools, affordable health care, and quality of life issues as her top priorities.
Rodney Willett (D) is an attorney and business professional. Willett says he plans to leverage work in public-private partnerships to help lower prescription drug prices and supports universal background checks for firearm sales.
The question in the 73rd District surrounds whether the 2017 result was a one-off or a trend. Republicans controlled the seat for decades until Rodman's victory. Prior to 2016, voters favored mostly Republicans in statewide elections. Since the 2016 Presidential race where Hillary Clinton (D) carried the district, Democrats hold an advantage. Court ordered redistricting favors Republicans, according to VPAP.
Willet lead Kastleburg in money available to close the campaign, with posted balances of $151,332 and $64,831 respectively.
House District 74 (Richmond, Henrico)
Incumbent Lamont Bagby (D) is the only candidate to qualify for the ballot in November. Bagby, the chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, has represented the strongly Democratic district since 2015.
House District 97 (Hanover, New Kent, King William)
After a contentious party nomination fight, current Del. Chris Peace (R) was defeated for the Republican nomination by Scott Wyatt (R). Virginia passed the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in 2018, and Wyatt said the move pushed him to challenge Del. Peace, who supported it.
Wyatt represents the Cold Harbor District on the Hanover County Board of Supervisors. He promised to slash spending and taxes and support pro-life policies if elected to the state house.
Kevin Washington (D) is an Army veteran and IT professional with the Defense Department. Among the top issues on his platform, Washington lists increasing the minimum wage, minority and LGBTQ rights, and criminal justice reform.
Since 1999, a Republican has held the seat in House District 97. Voters in the district strongly favor Republicans in statewide elections.
Wyatt has $5,018 in funding still available to Washington's total of $22,292.
Senate District 4 (Hanover, Caroline, Spotsylvania, Northumberland, Lancaster, Middlesex, Essex, Richmond County, Westmoreland, King George)
Incumbent Ryan McDougle (R) is a life-long resident of Hanover County, a former prosecutor there, and represented the area in the House of Delegates before winning his Senate seat in 2006. McDougle serves as the chairman of the Senate Rules committee and has carried legislation on safe reporting of overdoses as well as a bill that allows Virginia bars and restaurants to advertise their happy hour specials. His campaign website lists "holding the line" on lower tax rates and protecting second amendment rights has key issues.
Challenger Stan Scott (D) is a twenty year military veteran and public policy advocate. Common-sense gun control laws, campaign finance reform, and environmental protections are all part of Scott's listed platform. His campaign website reads, "fighting for our Commonwealth, not Corporate Wealth."
Republicans have held Senate District 4 since 1995, and GOP candidates have easily carried the district in the most recent statewide races.
McDougle is dominating in funding available, $594,271 to $6,273 for Scott.
Senate District 9 (Richmond, Henrico, Hanover, Charles City)
Incumbent Jennifer McClellan (D) won the seat in 2017, after Congressman Donald McEachin left it for higher office. McClellan served in the House of Delegates for more than a decade prior to moving to the Senate. The vice-chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, some political analysts believe McClellan may surface as a candidate for Governor or Lt. Governor in 2021, especially as scandal continues to follow the top three Democrats in Virginia's government.
Challenger Mark Lewis (L) is one of several Libertarian candidates on ballots in November. Lewis writes on his campaign website they he wants to cut taxes and government spending, but also legalize marijuana and reduce police abuse. Lewis supports expanding school choice.
Democrats have carried the district in statewide elections for many years and represented Senate District 9 since the mid-1970's.
McClellan is leading in campaign cash available by a wide margin, $85,345 to $0.
Senate District 10 (Chesterfield, Richmond, Powhatan)
Incumbent Glen Sturtevant (R) won the 10th district Senate seat in 2015. A lawyer by trade and former member of the Richmond School Board, Sturtevant has cast himself as a Republican who will buck party convention on certain issues. For example, Sturtevant supports cutting taxes and received an endorsement from the NRA in past elections, but he also sponsored a resolution to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment during the 2019 General Assembly session.
Challenger Ghazala Hashmi (D) is the Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning at J. Sergeant Reynolds Community College. Her family moved to America as a child, and her campaign website says chose to run because marginalized communities are "unheard, unseen, and unrepresented," something she wanted to change. Hashmi lists several democratic priorities, like preventing gun violence and climate change, among her top issues.
Democrats see Sturtevant's seat as top target this election. He won in 2015 by just 1,478 votes, and Democrats have performed very well in the district in recent statewide elections.
Sturtevant holds a $413,556 to $301,824 lead over Hashmi in funding available as the election approaches.
Senate District 11 (Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Amelia)
Incumbent Amanda Chase (R) is a small business owner and local conservative radio talk show host. Since winning the seat in 2015, Chase has cast herself as a champion for conservative policy. The Senator is regularly seen walking around the State Capitol with a concealed firearm on her waste band and fought against Medicaid expansion, which she calls a "fiscally reckless and unsustainable Trojan Horse for the state of Virginia." In April, Chase faced a spate of negative headlines after a heated exchange with a capitol police officer over a parking dispute.
Challenger Amanda Pohl (D) is a non-profit professional, adjunct professor, and former chaplain at Chippenham Hospital. Her campaign priorities include more affordable healthcare options, fully funding public schools, and addressing infrastructure needs throughout Central Virginia.
Republicans have held the seat since the early 1980's and have won the district in most statewide races of late. The only exception was the 2018 U.S. Senate race where Tim Kaine took the district by one percentage point.
Pohl leads in money available to finish the campaign, $152,126 to$126,275.
Senate District 12 (Henrico, Hanover)
Incumbent Siobhan Dunnavant (R) was elected to the State Senate in 2015 and works as a private practice OB-GYN. During her time in the Senate, Dunnavant sponsored bills that allow board certified doctors to prescribe THC-A oils to patients in need, tighten policy guidelines for prescribing opioids, and extending the grace period for teacher licensure reciprocity.
Challenger Debra Rodman (D) currently represents the 73rd House District, but chose to challenge Dunnavant for the 12th Senate seat instead. The anthropology teacher at Randolph-Macon College has backed key democratic positions on curbing gun violence, supporting anti-discrimination policies for the LGBTQ community, and expanding Medicaid. During 2017, Rodman was one of dozens of candidates to sign a pledge refusing campaign contributions from Dominion Energy.
For more than 30 years, Republicans have controlled this seat, but since Hillary Clinton won the district in 2016, Democrats have made major strides with voters in the 12th District. It remains to be seen whether those trends will continue in November.
Both candidates have posted major fundraising totals, with Rodman leading in cash on hand, $468,278 to $272,521 for Dunnavant.
Senate District 16 (Petersburg, Dinwiddie, Chesterfield, Richmond, Hopewell, Prince George)
The story of the June primary elections was Joe Morrissey (D). The embattled and controversial local figure soundly defeated incumbent Senator Rossyln Dance in the Democratic primary. "Fightin' Joe" has long promised to focus his efforts on improving conditions for residents of his district, including finding a solution for the vacant, run-down hotel in Petersburg that sits just off Interstate 95.
Waylin Ross (I) is running against Morrissey. Ross is a graduate of Petersburg High School and an economics professor at Northern Virginia Community College. On his campaign website, Ross writes, "No more voting blue no matter who!" He plans to prioritize the pursuit of investments in the local economy and fixing local government issues in Petersburg.
Democrats have racked up easy wins in Senate district 16 for several years now. Morrissey would appear to be the beneficiary of that support, given his local name recognition and winning the Democratic nomination.
Morrissey has $13,816 in funding available, and Ross reports $3,413.
Senate District 22 (Goochland, Louisa, Lynchburg, Amherst, Fluvanna, Prince Edward, Appomattox, Buckingham, Cumberland)
Incumbent Mark Peake (R) won a special election to assume the seat after former Congressman Tom Garrett vacated it to run for Congress. Peake currently serves on the Senate Court of Justice, Education and Health, Privileges and Elections, and Transportation. Peake supports pro-life policies, second amendment protections, and eliminating unnecessary regulations.
Challenger Dakota Claytor (D) says he is running because, as a product of Virginia public schools, he saw the effects deteriorating school facilities in Virginia. His mother's health issues opened him up to failures in the health care system, his campaign site reads.
Republicans have held the seat since 1991. The strongly Republican district was won easily by GOP candidates in every statewide race recently.
Peake's final fundraising edge is significant, $60,011 to just $2,625.
Most localities in the Richmond Metro are holding elections for Board of Supervisors, School Board, Sheriff, and Commonwealth Attorney. CBS 6 will bring a complete guide to those races soon.