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3 more observations on Tuesday’s Virginia primary results

3 more observations on Tuesday’s Virginia primary results

As boards of elections across the state finalize their results, let’s look at more implications of this week’s primaries.

1. Virginia will likely send fewer women to Washington

The number of women representing Virginia in Congress is likely to drop after the November election.

Virginia currently has a record four women in its House delegation:

  • Jen Kiggans, Hampton Roads R-2 District.
  • Jennifer McClellan, D-4th District of Richmond and part of the eastern Southside.
  • Abigail Spanberger, D-7th District in the Piedmont parts of Northern Virginia
  • Jennifer Wexton, Northern Virginia D-10th District.

Of those, two are withdrawing: Spanberger is leaving to seek the Democratic nomination for governor next year, for which she is currently the sole contender. Wexton retires for health reasons. Both will be replaced by men.

It’s theoretically possible to see women elected elsewhere, it’s just not very likely.

Let’s take a look.

McClellan will almost certainly return; she is in one of the most Democratic congressional districts in the state. Her predecessor, the late Donald McEachin, won re-election in this district with 65% two years ago. McClellan won a special election to succeed him with 74%.

District 2 will be represented by a woman no matter what happens. Democrats this week nominated Missy Cotter Smasal to challenge Kiggans. This has historically been a swing district, although the redistricting that created the current maps has made it a bit more Republican than in the past.

Democrats nominated women in Districts 1, 5 and 9: Leslie Mehta to challenge incumbent Rob Wittman in District 1, which runs from the Chesapeake Bay to suburban Richmond, Gloria Witt to challenge the winner of this week’s Republican primary in 5th, Karen Baker will challenge incumbent Morgan Griffith in Southwest Virginia’s 9th District. However, all three are also longshots for Democrats. Two years ago, Wittman was re-elected with 56% of the vote; Griffith won with 73% of the vote. In the 5th, Bob Good won two years ago with 58%. Right now, it looks like Good has been ousted by John McGuire (see my Thursday column for why Good’s supporters shouldn’t hope late-arriving mail-in ballots will change things) but that doesn’t will change the conservative nature. of the district.

While the number of women Virginia sends to Washington appears to be declining, the number it sends to state offices in Richmond could increase next year. If Republicans nominate Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears for governor – a distinct possibility – then Virginia would have a choice of two women for governor. Right now, the Democratic races for 2025 are shaping up, while the Republican side is quiet (at least on the surface) while Earle-Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares decide what their plans are (and presumably await the outcome of November’s presidential election to see what the political temperature might be in the state next year). I discuss 2025 more in this week’s edition of my free political newsletter, Vestul Capitalei. You can sign up for it right here!

It’s far too early to handicap the multi-candidate races for lieutenant governor and attorney general, but it’s theoretically possible that Democrats next year will nominate women for all three statewide offices.

5th Congressional District.  Courtesy of the Supreme Court of Virginia.
5th Congressional District. Courtesy of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

2. Redistricting is set to claim a second member of Congress

In Thursday’s column, I ran the numbers to show how the redistricting map approved by the Virginia Supreme Court in 2021 led to Bob Good’s apparent defeat in this week’s 5th District Republican primary. The short version: The new map reduced the number of Bedford County voters from the district (what remained of Bedford voted 58% for Good) and added six counties to the eastern part of the district, one of which (Goochland County) brought in Good’s. opponent and five of whom voted for that opponent, John McGuire.

There were certainly other reasons why Bun seems to have come up short — former President Donald Trump endorsing his opponent and calling Bun “bad for Virginia” certainly wasn’t helpful in the least. But the redistribution map didn’t help him either.

If Good falls, as it appears he will, he would be the second member of Virginia’s U.S. House delegation to fall victim to the new maps. In 2022, Rep. Virginia Beach Rep. Elaine Luria lost her 2nd District re-election bid to Kiggans. Again, lots of reasons for this, but a big one was the redistricting map, which took away some parts of the Democratic-voting district and added some Republican in the rural areas east of Hampton Roads. I wrote about it in a column after that election.

7th Congressional District.  Courtesy of the Supreme Court of Virginia.
7th Congressional District. Courtesy of the Supreme Court of Virginia.

Will those maps affect any other congressional races this fall? The one to watch the most is District 7. Spanberger won that two years ago with 52.2% of the vote. However, she also had the power of incumbency behind her. This time it will be an open seat with a race between Democrat Eugene Vindman and Republican Derrick Anderson. They will run against the backdrop of a presidential campaign. Right now, this appears to benefit Republicans more than Democrats, but that advantage could be fleeting.

The 7th has changed its shape so much that it is hard to call it a modification of the one that existed before the new maps. Seven of the 10 counties that were in the district in 2020 are now elsewhere. The basic political contours, however, remain the same: In both versions of the district, Spanberger had to pick up big numbers in the suburbs to make up for losses in rural areas. The only difference was that in 2020 those suburbs were in the Richmond area; by 2022 they were in Northern Virginia.

Here’s a question: Will there be any push in the General Assembly to change either the constitutional amendment that now requires a redistricting commission or the statutes governing that commission? And is there any reason to believe that the redistricting commission in 2031 will be better at resolving partisan differences than the one in 2021? If not, the Virginia Supreme Court will once again be tasked with appointing “special masters” to draw the lines.

3. Republicans lead Democrats in two of three districts with both primaries

This isn’t always the best measure, but it’s a measure, so take it for what it’s worth: We’ve had three congressional districts where both parties held primaries to choose House candidates. In two of those, more Republicans than Democrats showed up.

Sector 5:
Republicans: 62,473
Democrats: 24,358

Sector 7:
Republicans: 35,798
Democrats: 33,538

Sector 10:
Democrats: 43,020
Republicans: 26,691

A lot of things can influence this. The intensity of each side’s campaigns certainly matters. (The 5th District Republican primary was about as vicious as they come; the Democratic primary was an elegant affair in which the three candidates all met the next day in Danville for a unity event.) Republicans also had more to vote for — they had a Senate Primary on the ballot as well, though it was a low-key contest. (Those primaries drew fewer voters than three of Virginia’s previous four Senate primaries.) The general lay of the land also plays into this. District 5 is a Republican-leaning district, so we shouldn’t be surprised that more Republicans than Democrats voted. Ditto, the 10th district, just the opposite – it’s a Democratic-leaning district.

However, what we really want to know from these types of comparisons is the level of enthusiasm on each side. That ebbs and flows. In the 7th district, does it mean something that they voted 2,250 more Republicans than Democrats? May be. Maybe not. We’ll find out more in November. If Anderson takes No. 7 this fall, we can look back at that stat as a precursor. If Vindman wins, it will mean absolutely nothing.

Del.  Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper County.
Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper County, social media influencer and pitchman for Jeremy’s Razors.

In the west of the capital this week:

I write a free weekly newsletter, West of the Capital, which comes out every Friday afternoon. Here’s what’s in it this week:

  • Bob Good for Lieutenant Governor? This is the new buzz.
  • A look ahead at the 2025 statewide races that are starting to take shape.
  • Sen. Tim Kaine is launching his first ad, slamming Republican Hung Cao for things he said about Staunton and Abingdon.
  • Rep. Ben Cline, R-Botetourt County, is seeking a leadership role among House Republicans.
  • State Health Commissioner to Speak at Cardinal ‘Confused About Cannabis?’ the October 15 conference.
  • Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper County, who has more than 1 million Instagram followers, releases a video for Jeremy’s Razors.

You can sign up for West of the Capital or any of our other free newsletters here: