Continuing the Desk’s look at competitive Virginia legislative races this fall, here are districts 27, 51, and 100:
27th District: LEAN REPUBLICAN
District Description: HD27 takes up a wide swath of Chesterfield County, in the Richmond metro area. Like the county as a whole, HD27 has a mild but generally durable Republican lean. Democrats tend to do better in the northern part of the district, closer to Richmond proper; Republican performance improves at the district moves south, and becomes more exurban.
Who is Roxann Robinson (R)? That seems to be the issue for the Republican incumbent in this year’s election. She didn’t need to fret much in 2015, a year with a low turnout, though she has more of a race this cycle.
Chesterfield County barely voted for Donald Trump in 2016, as did HD27. In a district that is most certainly trending blue, there just may be an opening for Larry Barnett (D), the Democratic nominee.
Unlike other districts in the Capital Region that we have covered so far (the 72nd and 68th), it favors the Republicans, though is certainly not safe. Robinson isn’t exactly well-known with constituents; this could hurt in a year that she faces a decent opponent, especially one who outraised her in the last filing report.
Barnett is far from having an advantage over the incumbent, though. Chesterfield is still a pinkish to red county. It is almost certain though that he will improve on the 2015 margins, when Robinson won re-election by 17%. We currently estimate that she will win re-election by <10%.
There is still plenty of time in the race, however. <10% isn’t a bad sign for Barnett, who could possibly even get that margin within <5% on a good night, or even flip the district if a blue wave emerges. Still, with a month until election day, there’s still plenty of time for developments.
51st District: TOSS-UP
District Description: HD51 essentially bisects Prince William County. In the east, it begins by nearly touching I-95; this part of the district is dominated by the Lake Ridge community. It runs to the western end of the county, to include the growing communities of Nokesville and Bristow. Politically, the district is something of a tug-of-war between the Democrat east and Republican west.
Prince William County probably loves all the media attention it is getting this year, since the minority-majority county seems like the Virginia Democrats’ best opportunity to pick up seats in the House of Delegates. The most competitive district in this county, for both sides, is the 51st district.
Delegate Rich Anderson (R), the incumbent, only won re-election by 8% in 2013, which gives a great opportunity for Hala Ayala (D), the Democratic nominee, to improve on these margins. Ayala has continued to out raise and outspend her opponent, who is sitting atop a mountainous pile of $150,000 cash on hand as of August 31st, likely biding his time to spend it this month.
These candidates are roughly equal, in terms of overall campaign strength. Anderson is a decently strong incumbent who has served the 51st district since 2009, but Ayala is probably the strongest candidate he has faced yet. She’s running an extensive field program, one that apparently hasn’t extended itself enough to get the incumbent to notice it.
Anderson is arguably overconfident, which could possibly be attributed by not having to face a Democratic opponent in 2015, unlike his fellow Northern Virginia Republican incumbents who nearly lost in 2013. This overconfidence could be what makes him lose re-election this year.
It’s quite hard to predict who will win this district right now. Both candidates are matched in strength, and the district seems to go back and forth between partisan victory margins. We will certainly be looking forward to more developments in this race this month.
100th District TILT REPUBLICAN
District Description: HD100 is the “eastern shore” district. It contains Accomack and Northampton Counties, as well as a handful of precincts in Norfolk City. Overall, the two eastern shore counties typically have a purple to light-red tint. The Norfolk portion, centered on the Ocean View community, leans left.
Willie Randall (D) is going to have ride any coattails that Northam could produce in order to flip this district back into the Democratic column. This is Randall’s third attempt at trying to beat Rob Bloxom Jr. (R), the incumbent Delegate.
In November 2013, Ralph Northam (D) the State Senator from the 6th district, was elected to become the Lieutenant Governor. This vacancy triggered a special election; Virginia Democrats nominated Lynwood Lewis (D), the Delegate from the 100th district. Lewis had held that seat for a decade. Lewis would go on to win, succeeding Northam in the State Senate.
Still, the 100th district was now open, and another special election was scheduled later that year. Rob Bloxom Jr., who is the son of Rob Bloxom, Lewis’ predecessor, would go on to win the special election against Willie Randall’s first attempt at this seat, beating him by 21%. Randall ran for a rematch, and improved to a 16% loss.
Now, Randall is once again the Democratic nominee for the 100th district in the 2017 general election, hoping that Northam coattails and increased turnout could carry him to victory. However, he now has one disadvantage he didn’t have to face in 2014: the incumbency. Bloxom Jr. has held this seat for 3 years now, and has started to become entrenched.
This time, though, Randall has a jackhammer that may be able to shatter Bloxom Jr.’s incumbency foundation: Ralph Northam. Bloxom Jr.’s district is within Northam’s base, and we anticipate that he will greatly improve on McAullife’s margins from 2013, at the Gubernatorial level. Randall’s goal is to take advantage of Northam’s personal popularity here, and hold on to as many of his votes as possible.