Candidates have filed papers to run for Virginia’s Fourth U.S. Congressional, recently converted from a Republican to Democratic-leaning district, due to a federal law suit.
Chesapeake City Councilperson Ella Ward and State Senator Donald McEachin of Henrico County have thrown their hats into the ring.
Only McEachin, who is an attorney, has filed papers thus far.
Candidates have until March 31, 2016, to file their papers, according to the State Board of Elections.
Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade and Elliott Fausz of Richmond, two Republicans have announced they intend to run for the district . Thus far only Wade has filed to run.
Ward is the lone Democrat on the Chesapeake City Council and lone Black woman. McEachin is the Chairman of the Senate’s Democratic Caucus. He has served in the House of Delegates for seven years and the State Senate for nine, first being elected to that body in 2007.
Ward, whose current term expires in 2018, has been on the Chesapeake Council for 10 years.
The Fourth Congressional District was redrawn due to a federal lawsuit filed two years ago, which said that Virginia’s Third Congressional District was gerrymandered to pack a majority of Black voters into its borders.
The Fourth Congressional District was drawn to support White Conservative Republicans like current Congressman Randy Forbes of Chesapeake who holds the seat.
The Third was drawn to elect the state’s lone Black Congressman, Democrat Robert Scott of Newport News.
The federal court agreed with the plaintiffs in the suit and had the Third and Fourth Congressional Districts redrawn.
Now the Fourth District has more Black and White-leaning Democrats, which caused Forbes, fearful of losing in the upcoming election, to run for the Second Congressional seat.
That seat will open with the decision by incumbent Republican Scott Rigell of Virginia Beach to not seek reelection.
In 2001, Democrat Louise Lucas, who is now a state senator, narrowly lost the open Fourth District seat to Forbes.
During the following redistricting process in 2010, the Republican-controlled General Assembly injected more Republican leaning Whites into the district, and assured Forbes’ reelection to the U.S. House for the last 15 years.
If Democrats manage to secure the seat this fall, for the first time in the state’s history Virginia will have two African-Americans in the U.S. Congress.
One of the points of contention in the federal suit was that Republicans own all but three of the state U.S. Congressional seats.
The Fourth District includes parts of Hampton Roads, including the city of Chesapeake and floats northward to include Richmond, Henrico County and parts of Petersburg, which expand the number of Blacks in it.
“I am looking forward to making history as a first Black female to represent Virginia in the U.S. Congress,” said Dr. Ward. “I am also working to join Congressman Scott as the second African-American to represent the state today. We have so many issues related to education, the economy and the defense of our nation at stake”
In making his announcement, for the seat, Sen. McEachin said, “I’m running for Congress this year because I’ve had enough of the backward agendas and hateful language in Washington. I’ve had enough of Republicans attacking the civil rights, voting rights and human rights of Americans. I’ve had enough of Republicans trying to tell women how to control their own bodies and their own healthcare decisions.
“And I’ve had enough of Republicans slashing Social Security, Medicare and education funding while protecting tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires.”