Dr. Cameron Webb (D), a University of Virginia physician and former White House Fellow, says he will mount a campaign against freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas). Despite the Democratic trend in the Virginia 2018 elections, Mr. Riggleman was able to score a 53-47% open seat victory over former national news programming director Leslie Cockburn (D) and keep the seat in the Republican column. It is likely that Mr. Riggleman will be even stronger here in 2020. President Trump, for example, scored a 53-42% win here over Hillary Clinton in 2016 despite him losing the statewide vote, 44-50%.
Some retirement rumors had begun swirling around seven-term Virginia Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Montross/ Fredericksburg) but those have been quickly extinguished. After raising $231,000 in the second quarter, Rep. Wittman yesterday announced that he is running for re-election.
The 1st District, which stretches from the outer Washington, DC suburbs to the area just east of Richmond and ending west of Williamsburg, is reliably Republican. Rep. Wittman is a heavy favorite for re-election after winning 55-45% last November in a state turning more Democratic. President Trump carried the seat 54-41%, and Mr. Wittman has averaged 59.4% in his seven congressional elections. At this point, the only announced Democratic candidate is 2018 nominee Vangie Williams.
Some Republican leaders were hoping to recruit state Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) into the 7th Congressional District next year to challenge freshman Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) but that plan may have hit a bump in the road. Mr. Freitas was looking to win re-election to the state House this year in a landslide to strengthen his position, but now it appears his filing was not successfully completed meaning he is disqualified. If he is to run for the state House, it looks like he will have to run as a write-in candidate.
Former Virginia Congressman Scott Taylor (R), who lost his Virginia Beach anchored congressional district after one term, announced yesterday that he will challenge Sen. Mark Warner (D) next year. Acknowledging that he will be an underdog in the race against Sen. Warner, Mr. Taylor is nonetheless moving forward with his campaign. As Virginia continues to move left, Sen. Warner is viewed as a solid favorite for re-election even though he barely escaped (49.1 – 48.3%) a surprise finish opposite Republican Ed Gillespie in 2014.
Hampton University gives us our first major look at the Old Dominion Democratic presidential primary (taken 5/29-6/6; released 6/20; 1,126 VA registered voters likely to vote in the Democratic presidential primary) and, like the recent Florida poll (see above), former Vice President Joe Biden claims a 30+% lead with Mayor Pete Buttigieg gaining momentum. Here, the numbers break 36-17-13-11-7% for Mr. Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), respectively. Virginia has 99 first ballot delegates, ranking it 12th highest of the 57 delegate voting entities.
One freshman congressional district that won’t feature the 2018 candidates is Virginia’s 5th CD. Yesterday, Democratic nominee Leslie Cockburn, who secured 47% of the vote against businessman Denver Riggleman (R), says she will not return for another campaign.
Remaining in the Democratic primary is Marine Corps veteran Roger Dean Huffstetler, who finished second in the 2018 Democratic contest. Without another strong contender entering, Mr. Huffstetler will likely have the inside track to winning the party nomination and then facing Rep. Riggleman late next year.
Despite Sen. Mark Warner (D) being re-elected in a close 2014 election, he does not appear vulnerable heading into 2020. Media reports are suggesting that the National Republican Senatorial Committee leadership is attempting to recruit defeated Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Virginia Beach) into the race against the two-term incumbent. Mr. Taylor purports to be considering the Senate campaign but, with Virginia trending decidedly leftward, a race against Sen. Warner will not likely end well for any Republican.
While Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) now faces serious potential criminal charges for an alleged 2000 rape in North Carolina, two polls were conducted testing whether respondents believe that Gov. Ralph Northam (D) should resign over his past racial antics.
The Washington Post-Schar Poll and the Democratic survey research firm Civiqs, polling for the liberal Daily Kos Elections website, arrived at very different results. The Post’s survey (2/6-8; 706 VA residents) found the state split as to whether Gov. Northam should resign. According to this data, 47% believes he should step down while another 47% says Mr. Northam should remain in office.
But, the Civiqs results (2/5-8; 868 VA registered voters) see a much different sentiment. According to this study, by a whopping 60-24%, the electorate says he should resign.
Though the polls were conducted over the same time period, the Post’s survey includes all adults while Civiqs segmented only registered voters. At this point, Mr. Northam says he will not resign and the flap involving Lt. Gov. Fairfax makes it more likely that the Governor will hold his position.
With Gov. Ralph Northam (D) already reeling from accusations of racism relating to a medical school yearbook picture featuring a man in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan garb on his page, now Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) faces further problems related to sexual assault.
Vanessa Tyson is a Scripps College (CA) professor is now coming forward to make claims against Mr. Fairfax. Therefore, the Lt. Governor’s political future may now be more likely to end in resignation than Gov. Northam’s. Should both men resign, Attorney General Mark Herring (D) would become Governor. With Northam holding firm, and Fairfax in trouble, the chances of the Governor holding onto his position have improved.
Former Rep. Dave Brat (R) is unlikely to seek a re-match with new Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D) in Virginia’s 7th District. Liberty University just announced that Mr. Brat will rejoin academia with his acceptance of their offer to run the institution’s business school. VA-7 is expected to be a top Republican conversion target in 2020, but the party will likely be fielding a fresh standard bearer.
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