By Leonard E. Colvin
New Journal and Guide
Now that the dust has settled after the June 20 primary races, the candidates of the two major parties are gearing up for the November 7 General Election.
For the next five months, Democratic and Republican candidates will be working to develop messages they hope will register with voters and drive them to the polls in high numbers.
All 40 State Senate and 100 State House of Delegates seats will be contested on the ballot in the fall.
At stake is the control of the Virginia General Assembly.
Republicans have a four-seat majority in the House and the Democrats have a four-seat buffer in the Senate.
If the Democrats should fail to recapture the House and lose the reins of power in the Senate, Republicans, led by Conservative GOP Governor Glenn Youngkin will push through a conservative agenda.
Restricting abortion, voting, and other civil rights issues are areas where the GOP is prone to roll back reforms that have been made in Virginia in these areas.
For example, Virginia is one of the last states in the old confederacy that has not passed a restrictive abortion law.
Today the Commonwealth is the destination of many women from other southern states where the procedure has been restricted or curtailed.
Youngkin wants to reduce the number of weeks a woman can have an abortion to 15. Today it is 22 weeks.
He has raised millions to help Republicans win the four competitive seats in the State Senate and seven in the House that likely will determine which party controls the General Assembly after the November election.
If you think the primary races were heated in a number of House and Senate Districts over the past year, expect the two parties to ramp up the rhetoric to motivate their supporters in the fall.
The political analysis said voters should be prepared to see an onslaught of TV, radio, and social media ads, mailers, and possibly automated calls or texts if they live in any of these districts.
What made the primary races the most dramatic and heated were the newly redistricted House and Senate districts.
It caused a large number of political veterans in the Senate and the House to bow out of the primary races because they were drawn out of their districts into clashes with fellow party incumbents.
The most intense one was for the 18th Senatorial District which was redrawn after redistricting. It pitted Black political power Democrat Louise Lucas of Portsmouth who had represented the 18th District before redistricting for over 30 years against Lionell Spruill of Chesapeake, another political power whose 5th District seat was moved out of Hampton Roads, putting him also in the new 18th District.
Lucas collected 9,566 votes compared to Spruill, 8,454 — a 1,112 vote difference.
Sixty percent of the new Senate 18th District is in Chesapeake which tends to vote Republican.
Spruill was optimistic that Chesapeake voters would turn out to keep him in the Senate and defeat Lucas.
In fact, according to the numbers released by the Virginia Department of Elections, Spruill may have been hurt by the low turnout in the city: 9 percent compared to the 15 percent turnout in Portsmouth which helped Lucas.
One factor that may have contributed to low voter turn out in Chesapeake was confusion or ignorance of the city’s precincts due to the newly drawn 18th District.
Black voters have complained that the two parties and the state and local election officials did a poor job of indoctrinating the voters on the location of the new precincts.
To break down the numbers despite the low 9 percent turnout in Chesapeake, Spruill won the total ballots count in that city. He also won the election day tally in Chesapeake, and the early mail votes.
He lost by less than .1 percent of the early in-person votes from Chesapeake.
Lucas, with the support of her loyal voter base in Portsmouth, won the election day tally by 1,918 votes in that city; she won the election day voter count, had 808 more early “in-person” votes and 544 more votes via the mail than Spruill.
Lucas is expected to have an easier race against Republican Tony Goodwin, a small business owner in Portsmouth.
Five incumbent senators across the state lost to challengers. The shake-ups included the ousting of far-right “Trump in hills” Republican Sen. Amanda Chase and Democratic Senators Chap Petersen and George Barker.
Barker’s defeat means that he will not be in line for the powerful Senate Finance Committee, where he is Vice Chair now.
The crown of chairperson for that powerful panel could now rest on the head of Lucas who is now the most senior member.
It is chaired currently by retiring Democratic Senator Janet Howell.
Lucas is sure to be in the thick of things as the legislators and Youngkin try to finalize a state budget.
State Delegate Angelia Williams Graves, of Norfolk, won the Senate District 21 election against Norfolk Councilperson Andria McClellan, 7,931 to 4,810.
Before she ascended to the House, Graves was on Norfolk City Council, where she represented half the city of Norfolk in Ward 7 and McClellan represented the other in Ward 6.
There were 12,741 votes cast in this race, which lacked the barbs and testiness of the Lucas-Spruill dust-up.
Graves’ opponent will be Giovanni Dolmo, who has entered the Senate District race as an independent candidate. He previously ran for office against 93rd House District Delegate incumbent Jackie Glass, who had no primary challenger. She will face Republican John Sitka in the November election.
In the Senate District 17 race Democrat Clinton Jenkins, who did not have a primary challenger, will face Republican Emily Brewer. This is an open seat and one of the four Senate seats deemed competitive by political analysis.
Senate District 22, an open seat, will see Senator Aron House, who represents the 7th Senate District, now run against Black Republican Kevin Adams in the General Election this fall.
So far as the House races in Hampton Roads, in the 84th House District Democrat Nadarius Clark will face Republican Michael Dillender. That district includes Suffolk, Franklin and Isle of Wight.
Democrat Jarris Taylor is in an uphill battle against Black Republican A.C. Cordoza in the 86th House District.
Karen Jenkins, a Democrat, will face Republican Baxter Enis in the newly drawn 89th District.
Democrat Cliff Hayes will take on Republican Jay Leftwich in the new 90th House District.
Bonita Anthony, who won the 92nd House District race in Norfolk, is unopposed after defeating Kim Sudderth in the June 20th Primary.
Democrat Phil Hernandez will face Republican Andy Pittman in the 94th District, which is partially in Norfolk and Virginia Beach.
African American Michael Feggans will face Republican Karen Greenhalgh in the race for the New 97th House District race in Virginia Beach.
The political analysis defines it as a competitive district.
House Democrats Marcia Price of the 85th House District, Jeion Ward of the 87th District, Don Scott, who is the Democratic House minority leader, and Alex Askew will not face November challengers this fall.
Democratic Party women and the abortion issue helped Lashrecse Aird defeat incumbent Sen. Joe Morrissey in the Democratic primary for Senate District 13.
Morrissey is the lone Democrat who opposes abortion and his party leader feared he would support the GOP’s effort to roll back abortion rights if he had won this race.