Facebook Pixel Tracking Pixel
Connect with us


Upcoming Primary Races: New House District 95 Pits James Vs. Askew

The upcoming primary race in House District 95 features Democratic candidates Alex Askew and Rick James vying for a spot on the November ballot. With the district leaning blue, the winner of the primary is expected to secure victory in the general election. Both candidates are focused on key Democratic issues such as education, gun safety, minimum wage, and voting rights, as they engage with voters and highlight their endorsements.

By Leonard E. Colvin
Chief Reporter
New Journal and Guide

During the 2021 Republican wave, Democrat Alex Askew who represented the 85th District covering mainly Virginia Beach, lost his reelection bid.

Now Askew is working to return to the Virginia General Assembly, this time in the newly drawn 95th House District where he is running in a primary race against fellow Democrat Rick James on June 20.

Voters in Norfolk and Virginia Beach who live in the new 95th District will decide which man to place on the November ballot for the seat.

The winner of the June 20 primary for the 95th District is virtually assured of victory in November since the district leans blue, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP).

Askew’s loss along with a hand full of other seats held by Democrats shifted control of the House to the Republicans at the same time Glenn Youngkin was elected Governor.

The GOP now has a 50-46 majority in the House. But Democrats are hoping to reclaim control of that chamber and retain their majority of the State Senate.

Both candidates support key Democratic issues fueling campaign speeches this spring and later this year.

Funding for public education, transportation, gun safety or reducing access to them, $15 minimum wage, protecting a woman’s reproductive rights, employment equity, voting rights, helping cities battling gun violence and a lack of affordable housing.


Rick James, who has a military and law enforcement background, currently works for State Senator Lionel Spruill, writing legislation and other assignments.

“So, I would love to use all of that experience to help all Virginians,” said James. “I think I have the experience, working for a lawmaker (10 years), my time in the military, law enforcement, and my educational background.”

James’ list of endorsements includes Sen. Spruill, Smart Transportations, the huge railroad workers union, and DemsServe, a national PAC that supports ex-military personnel seeking political office.

James noted several former and current law enforcement personnel support his cause, including Norfolk Sheriff Joe Baron and Norfolk Commonwealth’s Attorney Rahim Fatehi and Norfolk Councilperson John Paige.

Askew was born in Virginia Beach and got into state and national activism helping seasoned politicians run their campaigns. He is a 2018 graduate of UVA’s Political Leaders Program.

Askew’s endorsements include former Delegate Jerrauld Jones, Norfolk City Treasurer Daun Hester, Norfolk Vice Mayor Martin Thomas, Jr., Virginia Beach Councilwomen Jennifer Rouse and Dr. Amelia Ross-Hammond, and Norfolk school board member Carlos Clanton.

Askew and James met in a primary race before, in 2014 for the old 90th District, which was won by former Delegate Joe Lindsey who pulled 250 votes. James pulled 177 and Askew got 25 votes.

James lost three primary races for the old House 90th District in 2011 and 2013 against Algie Howell and most recently against Angelia Williams Graves in 2020.

But James hopes this time the political stars will align in his favor.

Both candidates expect a traditionally low spring turnout on June 20.


In the past, on average about 3,000 or fewer voters ventured to the polls.

So, 1500 votes may be the magic number to advance to the general election on November 7.

At this point, the two candidates are alerting the voters of their candidacy and the issues, as they knock on doors and use social media to educate people about the newly drawn 95th House district’s precincts and boundaries.

Askew has amassed a considerable war chest, according to VPAP, with some $133,000, compared to James’ roughly $28,000 in the bank.

Ninety percent of the new 95th District is in Virginia Beach with several Norfolk precincts bordering the resort city.

As a former member of the House, Askew said, he fought “to bring Virginia into the 21st Century – raising wages, strengthening our economy, ensuring Virginians had more liberties and freedoms, and defending our environment. Glenn Youngkin is hellbent on tearing down our progress.

“This election is about Virginians standing up and defending the progress we’ve made in the Commonwealth,” he said.

James said he disagrees “with 99 percent of what Youngkin is doing as Governor.”

“Legislators write the bills, and the Governor signs them. So, if he (the Governor) is not in support of gun safety, a $15 minimum wage, and a women’s right to choose I don’t support him. We need progressive legislation for all Virginians.”

One of the strategies, to reduce violence, James said, is to apply “rules” akin to car safety and ownership.


It would make gun owners whose weapons are stolen from their cars or homes and used on the street more responsible. He said people should not only report stolen guns but ensure they can’t be stolen from unlocked cars or homes.

He said such laws would not infringe on gun ownership as the NRA and Second Amendment advocates falsely claim.

Askew has noted he championed legislation of diversity, gun safety, the ODU/Eastern Virginia Medical School Merger, the development of the Virginia Beach sports complex, and voting rights expansion.

To improve employment opportunities for those not on track to college, Askew said community colleges should expand access to blue-collar skill trades in HVAC, construction, and auto mechanics which pay more than some jobs requiring a college degree.

All of the state’s 140 legislative seats are on the General Election ballot on November 7.

The GOP now has a 50-46 majority in the House. But Democrats are hoping to reclaim control of that chamber and retain their majority of the State Senate.

Governor Youngkin has backed away from running for President in 2024 and has pledged to expend sweat and treasure to help the GOP retain the House and take the Senate.

If the GOP succeeds, Democrats fear Republicans will approve a conservative agenda similar to what Republican-controlled legislatures have approved in Florida, Texas, and other Red-leaning states.

Hide picture