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Luck of the Draw.

2019                        General Election

Shelly Simonds could be defending a seat she won in 2017. She could be the incumbent. She won the election in 2017. By a single vote. Or not. Unfortunately. She lost through bad luck. She is running again 2019.

Virginia holds elections for state office in odd years. State-wide officials were elected in 2017 and will be elected again in 2021. Members of the House of Delegates have a two year term, were elected in 2017 and are elected again in 2019. Members of the state Senate have a four year term, were last elected in 2015, and are all up for election in 2019.

In 2017, the Washington Post scolded Shelly Simonds for not accepting the result of a court decision. The Court had decided that the ballot that was in dispute was actually a vote for Simonds opponent. It might have been. The voter filled in both circles for Delegate. The circle for Simonds had a line going northeast from it. The Post described it as a slash, crossing out that vote.

The Washington Post displayed a picture of the ballot which can be seen on the internet. The circle for another position had a line going south east from the filled circle – the only circle filled for that position. The circle for a third position had a line above the filled circle – the only circle filled for that position. What did the voter intend by those lines?  Shelly Simonds was the only Democrat whose circle was filled. Was the voter crossing that circle out?

Shelly Simonds had a claim. She could have asked for another recount. She could have appealed the court decision. It is not clear that a decision about a specific ballot made by the election officials and clerk of courts was reviewable by the court. Simonds backed down. Accepted the court decision. Resolved the uncertainty about who was in charge of the House of Delegates

As Joe Biden might say, this was a big deal. Had Shelly Simonds won, the Democrats would have had 50 seats in the House of Delegates; the Republicans would have had 50 seats. The Republicans, who had controlled the House for decades, who had had a two-thirds majority not long ago, had already prepared a power sharing agreement.

Democrats have a real opportunity to gain control of the House of Delegates in 2019. A state court found discrimination in the gerrymandering of districts and hired a master to redraw the districts. As Democrats enter the 2019 races, there are six more seats carried by Hillary Clinton than in 2017.

Shelly Simonds is back. Running for Delegate in HD 94. Against the same opponent. She was a late candidate in 2017 – stepping in when family issues led the original nominee to leave his candidacy. She is right on time in 2019.

Shelly Simonds is a former teacher and member of the Newport News School Board. She was not new to politics.  She had been a School Board member since 2012 and was appointed by the Governor to a state-wide regulatory board.  She was the Democratic candidate for HD 94 in 2015, but lost to the Republican incumbent.  She has enough resources so that she can do partial self-funding.

Shelly Simonds is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Bucknell, has a Master’s Degree from Stanford, and is married to an aeronautical engineer.  She has lived in Spain, Costa Rica, and Chile. Unsurprisingly, she is fluent in Spanish.

Is Shelly Simonds local enough? She is focused on local education. She is the education candidate. We know more about her education views than would reasonably be expected, even for an education candidate. As a school board member, she participated in Ballotpedia’s survey of school board candidates.

Shelly Simonds highest priority (of those from which she was given as an option) was improving board and community relationships with teachers, lowest was increasing choice for students.  She did not oppose Charter schools in her community but called for them to live by the same rules as the local schools. She did not oppose accountability.  She proposed assessing students’ achievement broadly using portfolios in addition to test scores.

Smart positions. Smart politically and good educationally. Help her flip this seat this time. If Democrats can hold all their House of Delegate seats and flip just two, they will gain a majority. Shelly Simonds is a great place to start making change in state legislatures . Helping her could transform Virginia. Transforming Virginia would be a start to changing state legislatures around the country. Transforming Virginia would be a signal for how well Democrats will do in 2020. Contribute to creating that signal. Contribute to that change.