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July 6th  , 2023         Political Note #573 Virginia’s House of Delegates

2023                          General Election







There was a time when Virginia had appeared to be moving toward becoming a Democratic state.  That perception was damaged in 2021.  Republicans were elected to the three state wide offices for which Virginia has elections – Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General.  (For those who don’t follow elections closely, Virginia elects those offices the year after a presidential election.  Every odd year, Virginia elects members of its House of Delegates.  In years before Presidential elections, Virginia elects members of its State Senate.) Virginia is electing members of its House of Delegates and its State Senate on November 7, 2023.

Virginia is important in and of itself.  It is also important because it is so close to Washington DC that politically active people in DC are aware of Virginia’s politics.  Finally, it is important because the year before a Presidential election it becomes an important indicator of what will happen throughout the country when a President is elected.

In the election of 2021, Virginia, in addition to electing a Republican governor, elected a majority in the House of Delegates.  Currently, that majority is 51 Republicans and 46 Democrats.  The House Majority Leader decides whether or not there should be a special election to fill vacancies.  He has opted against filling the three vacancies that exist.

Virginia will implement the State Supreme Court’s redistricting plan in the 2023 election. The plan makes substantial changes in the current districts.  One consequence of the change is that figuring out how many seats and which seats need to be flipped for Democrats to get a majority is complicated.   Virginia had its primaries on June 20.  We now know who the House of Delegates candidates are.

In 2022, the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP) calculated which redistricted House of Delegates seats were Competitive, which Leaned toward Republicans and Democrats, which leaned strongly toward Republicans or Democrats.  Based on that calculation, VPAP found:

  • 34 Seats Strongly Democratic
  • 29 Seats Strongly Republican
  • 11 Seats Leaned Democratic (Make that a total of 45 D)
  • 18 Seats Leaned Republican (Make that a total of 47 R)
  • 8 seats were competitive. (Democrats would have to win 6 of the 8 to have a majority)

Recently, Daily Kos did a different analysis.  They identified redistricted Democratic seats as those which, after an examination by precinct, were carried by the Democratic presidential candidate in 2020 AND the Democratic candidate for governor in 2021.  Republican districts were those carried by the Republican presidential candidate in 2020 AND the Republican candidate for Governor in 2021.  Competitive districts were carried by the Democratic candidate for President in 2020 and the Republican candidate for Governor in 2021.

  • 48 Seats were carried by Joe Biden in 2020 and Terry McAuliffe (for governor) in 2021
  • 41 Seats were carried by Trump in 2020 and by (the Republican Governor) Youngkin in 2021
  • 11 Seats (which could be considered toss ups or competitive) were carried by Biden in 2020 and Youngkin in 2021)

Using this calculus, Democrats would need to win three of the competitive seats to gain control of the House of Delegates. Carolyn Fiddler of State House Action identified six of the 11 competitive seats as top targets, the other 5 she sees as Democratic only if Republicans have a particularly bad night.

Democrats regain the Virginia House of Delegates if they win three of the competitive seats. All but one of these Top Six competitive seats were also listed as competitive by VPAP. If you are going to help Democrats gain control of Virginia’s House of Delegates, these are the most important candidates to give money to.

=Carolyn Fiddler’s Top Six from Daily Kos’s 11 Competitive Seats

1. HD 21 Democratic Attorney Joshua Thomas grew up in Georgia in a family that worked for airlines. He is a Marine Corp veteran who got his BA from Vanderbilt and his JD from William & Mary.  He said in his announcement that he was “committed to keeping our region affordable and maintaining the unique and diverse rural/suburban character of our community…”. Married to a Black woman, he is serious about the issue of diversity.

Joshua Thomas is an attorney.  As part of his law practice, he has represented veterans, members of the LGBTQ community, and Afghanis seeking asylum at no cost.  In addition to his law practice, he has been part of Virginia’s Medical Reserve Corps which distributes foods and vaccines.

His opponent, John Stirrup, a member of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, won his primary despite his opponent highlighting a 2014 public intoxication arrest and a his collapse at a County Board meeting,  Stirrup introduces himself on his website by touting his work in the Reagan administration and his current efforts to turn in “illegal immigrants” to ICE.

VPAP reports that Josh Thomas has raised $164,589 compared to John Stirrup’s $120,506.  Donate to Josh Thomas.  Help him win the election in this Northern Virginia district.

2. HD 57 Democratic Nurse Practitioner Susanna Gibson grew up in Virginia, went to the University of Virginia and got a Master’s Degree at Columbia University in New York. As a nurse practitioner, she had experience providing home care services to patients with complex problems.  In that work, she struggled to ensure that her patients had the resources they needed. As she sought resources, she developed an understanding of the public policy issues associated with health care.  Among her priorities as a candidate are ensuring reproductive rights, mental health services, and services to the elderly.  She would also see our gun violence problem as a public health problem.

Her opponent is David Owen, the son of a man who worked for the Virginia Highway Department and then served in the state legislature.  David Owen has a BS in engineering from the University of Virginia and ambitions to be like his father.  He has been a partner in a home building construction firm for most of his working life. Now that he and his partners have sold the business, he has an opportunity to emulate his fatherwith service in the House of Delegates. He attributes learning about hard work and his awareness of right from wrong to his father’s instruction.  Owen’s priorities include an educational system that goes “back to basics” and a reduction in crime through supporting law enforcement.

 VPAP reports that Susanna Gibson has raised $301,737 for this race and David Owen has raised $283,432.  Add to Susanna Gibson’s war chest.  She will need every dollar you can give to help her win this seat in the Richmond suburbs.

3. HD 65. Pastor and Democratic political staffer Joshua Cole begins his campaign website with “I’m coming back. Join our ministry of freedom and give our Commonwealth back to the people.” Born in DC, a student for three years at Liberty University, he is finishing his degree at Mary Washington University. In 2019, he was elected as one of the youngest Virginia Delegates ever.

 Nevertheless, he has had considerable experience.  He worked for Liberty University, served as president of a local NAACP chapter, and was a legislative staffer after losing his 2017 race by 73 votes. He lost his seat in the Virginia red wave of 2021 and is back in an entirely redrawn seat.  He combines the practical with the symbolic.  For instance, he touts solutions for I 95 congestion and also proposes renaming the Jefferson Davis Highway.

 Joshua Cole’s opponent is Lee Peters III, a sheriff’s office captain.  Originally from Ohio, his dad was one of Ohio’s first black state troopers.  Lee Peters III joined the Marines at 18, served for 12 years, and, raising a daughter as a single father, began a law enforcement career in Virginia. His focus as a candidate is keeping the streets safe, fixing the low standards in schools, and reducing taxes.

Joshua Cole has a substantial fund raising lead.  According to VPAP, he has raised $258,643 to Lee Peters’ $96,798.  Do not take that lead for granted.  Help Joshua Cole back into the House of Delegates, to represent a district that is primarily Fredericksburg, a small city halfway between Washington, DC and Richmond, VA.

4. HD 82. Kimberly Pope Adams was a career public servant, an auditor for the state of Virginia. Could the Democrats propose a candidate more attuned to ensuring that public funds are spent well?  She has her story – poor and Black with divorced parents.  Her dad was a union worker at a chemical plant.  Her mom was a crossing guard. Scholarships got her a BA from Virginia Tech.  She also got an MBA from Liberty.  She has her priorities – safe communities for all, good education for all, reproductive rights (a central issue for this election and future ones), and, fitting for an auditor, transparency and good government.

Kimberly Pope Adams’ opponent is Republican Incumbent Delegate Kim Taylor. She has a BA from Virginia Commonwealth University.  She and her husband co-own three auto repair shops.  In the Virginia red wave of 2021, she ousted the incumbent Democrat Lashrecse Aird by 512 votes.  Her priorities include lowering the cost of health care (Taylor has disdain for what she calls our government-controlled health care), education which she would improve with greater local control and school choice, and support for small businesses through lower taxes and less regulation.

Kimberly Pope Adams needs some financial help if she is to win in November.  According to VPAP, she is behind Kim Taylor in fund raising — $97,254 to $265,177.  See what you can do to help a Democrat represent this diverse, low income, rural area south of Richmond.

5. HD 97. Air Force Veteran Michael Feggans, currently Vice Chair of the Virginia Beach Democratic Committee, may be the candidate about whom Democrats are most intrigued. After graduating from high school in Virginia Beach, he joined the Air Force where he made a name for himself.  He led aeromedical evacuations, created a computer library for the State Department, and was the senior enlisted leader of a medical contingency project in Korea.  He petitioned successfully to be an enlisted man working in Congress and worked with Senator Warner. Along the way, he got an education – a BS from Park University in MO and an MS from Norfolk state.  Currently, he is the owner and CEO of Outerbridge Technical Solutions, a cybersecurity start-up.

Michael Feggans opponent is Republican Incumbent Delegate Karen Greenhalgh.  A businesswoman, she developed Heritage Woodworks, a cabinet making facility, sold the business and managed medical facilities focusing on the privacy of pregnant patients.  Her priorities as a Delegate have been cutting taxes, going “back to basics” in education, creating jobs and a safe community, and protecting life.  An advocate for the governor’s proposal to limit abortions to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, American Bridge 21st Century describes her as having “worked for a chain of crisis pregnancy centers that spread misinformation to prevent women from receiving abortions in Virginia.”

Michael Feggans and his opponent are closely matched in funds raised according to VPAP.  He has raised $167,941; she has raised $175,561. The election is coming soon – November, 2023.  Help Michael Feggans bring his campaign to an end effectively, having raised enough money to win this Virginia Beach based district.

Carolyn Fiddler’s Sixth of the Top Six from Daily Kos’s 11 Competitive Seats was a Lean Republican according to VPAP

6. HD 71. If you went looking for a Democratic candidate for public office who was most like the women she wanted to represent, you just might find Jessica Anderson, born and raised in Newport News and raising a family in Williamsburg. Divorced, remarried and with three of her own children and two step children, she had an Associate’s Degree, worked in a family dental practice doing the scheduling and the bookkeeping before her divorce,  and became  a part-time elementary school receptionist after her remarriage. She was a runner, which is how she met her second husband. She was attuned to political issues through the difficulties she faced during her divorce. She might not have been the candidate in a less Republican district.  Nevertheless, she is clear about the issues – clear that lawmakers have no business interfering with the deeply personal matter of a woman’s decisions about reproduction; clear that dialogue with parents rather than school choice or banning books is the right approach for public schools and their communities; clear about how important child care and family leave policies and elder care are for women who work; and clear about the dangers presented by guns – even for someone like her who announces strong support of the second amendment.

Jessica Anderson is running against incumbent Delegate Amanda Batten, whose main concern as a legislator was eliminating a sales tax within the historic triangle of Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown.  More upscale than her opponent, Batten serves on multiple boards of trustees from symphonies to public commissions.  Her political focus is support for Governor Youngkin and Virginia’s financial health.  Other interests include access to mental health services and ensuring the accountability of public schools through easy access to test scores.

Jessica Anderson has raised $166,816 according to VPAP.  That is slightly more than half of the $301,763 raised by Amanda Batten. If Jessica Anderson is going to have a chance to win in this Williamsburg district, she will need the resources you can provide to close the financial gap with the incumbent.  Help out.

 Invest in Virginia.  Flip the House of Delegates.  Reverse the results of 2021.  Make Virginia Democratic again.  A Democratic House of Delegates will make a big difference to Virginia and – to the country.

 Invest now in the election coming up on November 7

 Democrats for Governor:

Incumbent Andy Beshear            Kentucky, Formerly, the Attorney General. Len’s Political Note #533

Shawn Wilson                                 Louisiana, Formerly the State Secretary of Transportation

Brandon Presley                            Mississippi, Formerly one of three elected public service commissioners. Len’s Political Note #549

Democrats for Attorney General

Colonel Pamela Stevenson         Kentucky, former Senior Official in the Air Force Judge Advocate system and state rep Len’s Political Note #561

Greta Kemp Martin                        Mississippi, Litigation Director, Disability Rights, Mississippi. Len’s Political Note #563

Democrats for Treasurer

Dustin Granger                               Louisiana, Financial Advisor. Len’s Political Note #562

 State Supreme Court Justice

Dan McCafferey                              Pennsylvania, Superior Court Judge.  Len’s Political Note #571