Virginia House of Delegates 2005 Elections

Keeping You up to date on the status of Virginia's 2005 Delegate races!

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Safe Democratic- 43rd District

The 43rd has been a battleground every cycle since 1995 when Tom Bolvin began closing in on longtime Delegate Gladys Keating. The district always leaned Democratic, but as her age caught up with Bolvin's increasing name rec, Bolvin took the seat in 1999. In 2001, Bolvin held off Mark Sickles but the 2000 Presidential results (Gore/Nader almost 60%) made everyone know what would happen eventually. In 2003, Sickles was able to unseat Bolvin, and since then the district has continued to move even more Democratic. This is a seat that Republicans won't get again. We're ready to call Mark Sickles a winner in 2005 for a second term.

Safe Republican- 55th District

In the funniest primary of the year Delegate Frank Hargrove, a conservative who represents one of the most conservative districts in Virginia, is being challenged by Charles Clemmons, an aide to the most liberal Republican Delegate (Dillard). Clemmons is running a smart campaign by focusing on the one issue where he is to the right of Hargrove: The Death Penalty.

That one issue won't carry Clemmons. Hargrove is a pretty good fit for his district, and we expect he will win a big re-election victory.

63rd District- Safe Democratic

Rosalyn Dance, the former Mayor of Petersburg won this seat in a special election last month, after Delegate Fenton Bland resigned on his way to federal prison. Fenton was sentenced to 5 1/2 years yesterday. In the special election Dance routed Bland relative Adisa Muse (we are shocked the voters didn't want to replace the disgraced Delegate with his relative), and then routed the Republican candidate. Dance will be opposed again in November, but will return to Richmond easily. It should be noted, as an Independent, Dance got 45% of the vote in 2001 against Bland, in a district as Democratic as this one, that means she was a lot more popular then him to begin with. The 63rd finally got the Delegate they wanted (and deserved).

Friday, April 29, 2005

Updating....

I hope you all like the links to the right. As we call each election as "Safe" with a known winner, we'll link them on the right so you can keep up with who is going to Richmond next year. I'll start another list with links to webpages in races where we have not called it safe for either side. That will take longer to go up, thanks in advance for your patience!

Leadership Returns to the House

8th District
Outlook: Safe Republican
25th District
Outlook: Safe Republican
28th District
Outlook: Safe Republican
46th District
Outlook: Safe Democratic
69th District
Outlook: Safe Democratic

Not a lot of suspense here. The leadership for both parties in the House is going to return next year. All of them are either uncontested, or only have nominal opponents.

The Republican Leadership, Speaker Bill Howell (28th), Leader Morgan Griffith (8th) and Caucus Chair Steve Landes (25th) all return in easy elections.

The Democratic Leadership, Leader Frank Hall (69th) and Caucus Chair Brian Moran (46th) also return without problems.

Safe Republican- 13th District

13th District
Outlook: Safe Republican

Democrats have a pretty good candidate in the 13th District this year. Retired Firefighter Bruce Roemmelt has started with strong fundraising and is seen as an energetic and articulate opponent to incumbent Republican Bob Marshall.

Doesn't matter. The 13th is the most conservative in Northern Virginia. Bob Marshall didn't win there by accident. This election may be entertaining- but not competitive.

Safe Republican- 50th District

Primary Outlook: Safe Parrish

This district, while having a strong GOP tilt, is not a lost cause for Democrats. Major Democrats have taken a pass on running- betting on a primary win for the incumbent Harry Parrish. As with the Rollison v. Frederick primary, Democrats are taking a risk on this one. However factors indicate they are right this time.

The 2003 primary where Jeff Frederick defeated incumbent Jack Rollison next door to this district, is the model for conservative Republican challengers this June. As is happening statewide this year, 2003 saw Democratic and Republican primaries go head to head in Prince William, preventing heavy crossover voting. Frederick used the much more conservative electorate to upset Rollison. So why can't 2005 challenger Steve Chapman upset Parrish? A few factors are in play:

#1- An unappealing Democratic Primary in the 50th District.
This district is and was 10th district based. Other than the hardcore activists, the names Chap Petersen and Leslie Byrne mean nothing to voters in the 50th. As the Lt. Governor Primary is the only Democratic Primary on the ballot that means low turnout in the 50th.... Lessening the impact on Parrish.

#2- A very appealing high profile Republican Primary in the 50th District.
Parrish won't be bringing out the moderates on his own. Sean Connaughton has a lot at stake in winning Prince William big. Since the activists won't give him that victory he will require bringing a large turnout of his own. Connaughton will win the 50th district over Bolling. Does anyone think there will be very many Connaughton/Steve Chapman voters? We don't. Also, there are plenty of conservatives who may be tempted to vote for Bolling who will also vote for Parrish.

This one is Parrish in a walk, despite the fact most Republican activists don't like it. Heck, Steve Chapman even got "Republican of the year" by Prince William GOPers in a slap at Parrish.

In the end, while there will be upsets of moderate Republican incumbents this year in primaries, this won't be one of them.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Breaking News- 74th and 45th- Targeting Changes Results

Two major stories breaking today that bring a rating change.

First of all, the 45th. Our good GOP source in Alexandria tells us that her roommates have started getting Englin for Delegate mail, including a piece yesterday about "not getting our fair share"....

Well our GOP source has a voter file and points out no one receiving this mail has ever voted in a Democratic Primary. What a waste of money by the Englin campaign! This will be a very low turnout election and very few voters will show up for their first ever primary (unless they personally know a candidate)

As my GOP source said: "My roommates are all single women, under 30. No Dem primary vote history. They are hedging their bets that they are all liberal prochoice sexpots undoubtedly."

My Fairfax Democratic source tells me that Garvey has been very open about her targeting. It seems to be very sound, and well thought out. As such we are changing the rating of the 45th to:

45th District: Toss Up. Leans Garvey or Englin. Slight lean to Garvey between them. Candidate to watch: Mandala.

Now the 74th District:

This morning, for once, the Richmond Times-Dispatch breaks a story over Not Larry Sabato. Delegates decide party foes running in primaries cannot access valuable information

By Tyler Whitley
Times-Dispatch Staff Writer

The Democratic Party of Virginia is denying its voter file to challengers to its incumbents running for re-election to the House of Delegates in a June 14 primary.

Kevin Griffis, a state party spokesman, said the House Democratic Caucus asked that the voter file not be sold to challengers.

The file includes information such as past voting patterns and interest exhibited through volunteer efforts and phone bank calls. A list of potential Democratic voters in a Democratic primary could be useful to candidates.

Two challengers will be affected: A. Donald McEachin of Henrico, a former House member, and Keela Boose-Jackson of Norfolk.

McEachin is challenging Del. Floyd H. Miles Sr. of Charles City in the 74th District. Boose-Jackson is running against Del. Algie T. Howell Jr. of Norfolk in the 90th District.

McEachin said yesterday that he was "disappointed. I am a former member of the caucus, a former statewide candidate for the party and have donated thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party."

Moreover, McEachin said he helped build the voter file as a member of the caucus.

McEachin was the losing Democratic candidate for attorney general in 2001. He represented the 74th from 1996 to 2002. Miles succeeded him.

Paul Goldman, an advisor to McEachin, cried foul yesterday.

"We want a level playing field," he said. "The party is not a club. That's the way the old Byrd organization operated."

Del. Brian J. Moran, D-Alexandria, the House caucus chairman, said the caucus decided during the General Assembly session to protect its incumbents.

"They pay dues to the caucus; it makes no sense to assist someone in trying to unseat them," he said.

The caucus regards McEachin, a former member, as a friend, he said, but the caucus adopted a policy to be applied uniformly to all challengers, Moran said.

The state party is providing the voter file to all candidates running for open seats, Griffis said. There are five open seats.

Griffis noted that Gov. Mark R. Warner is backing Miles. It would be self-defeating for the party to try to help someone whom Warner opposes, he said.

He said he understood McEachin's disappointment, but "I wonder what his feelings would be if the roles were reversed."

The Republican Party of Virginia, meanwhile, is making its voter files available to all GOP House candidates.

Some Republican leaders, however, would like to see incumbents who backed tax increases last year defeated. Six of the incumbents are being challenged by anti-tax-increase candidates.

Voting records can be bought from the State Board of Elections, but they are not as detailed, said Jean R. Jensen, board secretary. McEachin said his campaign would "adapt" and build its own voter file.

Jensen said voter lists from the state range in cost from a few hundred dollars for some House districts to as much as $7,000 for a statewide race. Democrats declined to say how much they would charge, but said the cost would be higher than the state board's because of additional detail in the party's lists.


This is a major development, and one that will hamper the McEachin campaign. We are changing our rating.

74th District:
Old Rating: Leans McEachin
New Rating: Toss Up

We don't rate internal squabbles normally, but this development breaks both ways... so...

Democratic Party Executive Director Job Security
Old Rating: Strong
New Rating: Toss Up

Not Larry Sabato may have to go out of town today... when I return the news on the GOP primaries.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

45th District Update.

Sorry to post this one day after our story, but we have some breaking developments in the 45th.

One of the problems with TV advertising (and why were taking Mandala less seriously for doing it) is that you pay for a lot of people to see the ad who can not vote for you. It can be a real waste of money in a small district.

Well a well placed source has brought a few things to our attention.

#1- A special cable rate for the following zip codes only:
22301,22302,22304,22305,22311,22314(Alexandria); 22206, 22211 (Arlington), and 22312 (Fairfax).

That is not an exact match to the 45th district, but it's pretty darn close.

With 150 ads being the saturation point in this area (when professionals will tell you that diminishing returns begin) and a 15 second spot will run about $30 during the best parts of the day. So Mandala is only spending about $4500 per week on these ads, or about $30,000 until the election.

Since Mandala has twice that on hand, we can assume she will be doing many other means of voter contact. Our well placed source tells us that her boyfriend is not done writing checks yet. ($57,000 so far). They plan to spend whatever it takes to win. It's safe to assume when voters go to vote they will know the name Laura Mandala more than any other.

Now to the most important information.

Our well placed source tells us that Mandala has inquired about 15, 30 and 45 second spots in the last 3 weeks. According to our source, 15 second attack ads are being planned for Englin, Garvey and Mosqueda. Depending on strategy as we get closer, Mandala is prepared to make an additional TV ad buy attacking whoever she feels is still in front of her. The 15 second ads would run back to back to back if she decided to use all 3 together.

With Mandala ready to outspend the field and to do whatever it takes to win- we are changing the outlook of this race. We'll now call it:

Toss Up: Leans Garvey or Englin. Candidate to watch: Mandala

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Blog Change

I took all the old threads and brought them back to the main page. Some of the discussions are too good to put in archives.

Safe Democratic- 57th District

Right now Four Primaries are going on around the state for "Safe Democratic" seats. Unlike the Republican primaries, only one of the Democratic Primaries involves an Incumbent. Here's an update on those four seats.

57th District

Outlook: Likely Toscano

This seat was the biggest surprise. Meredith Richards knew she couldn't win the Congressional race against Virgil Goode, and seemed to be running to set herself up for this seat. However some ugly local issues took her off the Council in Charlottesville, and Meredith got gun-shy and didn't go after this seat. Former Charlottesville Mayor David Toscano got started the moment the announcement came down, and with most major candidates out, looks like a solid favorite in this primary. Opponents Richard Collins and Kim Tingley appear to be trying to position themselves to Toscano's left, but they need an issue to make him unacceptable to primary voters. Lacking that- name recognition wins and Toscano is the new Delegate.

*Editorial*- Charlottesville should be embarrassed. You get to pick a Delegate once every two decades or so- and you couldn't have a competitive primary? C'mon!

Safe Democratic Seats- 45th District

45th District
Outlook: Toss Up- Leans Garvey or Englin

The 45th district is an odd district, stretching from Arlington, through Alexandria and into Mt. Vernon. About 70% lies in Alexandria, 20% in Fairfax and 10% in Arlington. The incumbent, Marian Van Landingham is retiring after over 20 years.

5 major Democratic candidates have a shot at this seat.

Elsie Mosqueda is the Richmond candidate, and has been endorsed by the Delegate next door, Brian Moran.

Elsie's strength- legislative experience in Moran's office.

Elsie's weakness - no one cares.

Libby Garvey is a member of the Arlington School Board.

Libby's strength- the "Education" candidate and her elected experience. Has Arlington to herself.

Libby's weakness- Her supporters. Most Alexandria Dems will privately admit they don't want a Delegate from Arlington- especially one as tied in with the Arlington establishment.

Laura Mandala is a community activist in Alexandria.

Laura's strength- Her boyfriend can write one check that doubles the money raised of everyone else running.

Laura's weakness- People are noticing that the campaign is lacking in strategy. Also quoted in paper with top two issues of "human and animal rights". 'Nuff said.

David Englin is a former military officer from Alexandria

David's strength- Young and articulate, and trying to position himself as the most progressive. He is drawing a lot of support from people he met while trying to oust Jim Moran last year.

David's weakness- He is drawing a lot of support from people he met while trying to oust Jim Moran last year. Might be good enough for a plurality this year- but not a lasting majority where Jim at the height of his controversy can draw 60%+ in primaries and general elections. If he wins this primary he is the most likely to not be able to hold the seat in a primary in two years.

Dick Hobson was Delegate for this district in the 1970's.

Dick's strength: "seniority" from having served before. However, previous service in Richmond only means you start at the top of the freshman class. Ask Jim Shuler of Blacksburg who lost all his seniority for being out of the house for a few days during the redistricting mess.

Dick's weakness: Sometimes he gets confused and claims to be Alan Diamonstein.

In the end any of these 5 candidates could win the primary. My money would be on Garvey who has an area of the district and an issue to herself, or Englin who will win a 5 candidate field if he unites the anti-Moran voters.

Safe Democratic- 71st District

71st District

Outlook: Leans McClellan

The 71st District is currently represented by Viola Baskerville. The seat is based in the City of Richmond. It's a majority African American seat. This seat is very different from other majority African American seats though. The average income is very healthy for the Richmond area. There is a large gay community in "The Fan" in Richmond, giving the candidates another group to target. Two colleges are located in this district, VCU and Virginia Union, giving the candidates a group of liberal college professors. All together with the majority black population there are a lot of different groups of Democrats!

Two candidates have stepped forward:

Attorney and Democratic Activist Jennifer McClellan

Community Activist Melvin Law

Insiders tell me that this is really a Wilder v. Baskerville fight, with McClellan being a Baskerville ally and Law being a Wilder ally. 364 days of the year we would take the Wilder ally in any election in Richmond. But it appears Jennifer McClellan has taken an early lead here.This primary is the same day Viola Baskerville is on the ballot for Lt. Governor. That's an advantage to Jennifer if the buzz of this being a Baskerville-Wilder fight is on the street as we have heard. Viola will be bringing out voters that day- Wilder will not.

Jennifer also has a better staff even though their win/loss record may not show it. Everyone is due for a win once in a while, right?

Also McClellan leads in fundraising and seems to have a clear majority of active Democrats supporting her.McClellan is the favorite- but this one is worth watching as Law has the backers to catch up fast if he can pull it together. Only 50 days to do that!

Safe Democratic- 74th District

74th District

Outlook: Leans McEachin

As exciting and vibrant as the 71st District is, the 74th is the opposite of that. With one Richmond precinct, this district is based in central Henrico County. It also includes tiny Charles City County. It's majority African American, and has a very poor economy, very little retail and high crime. The biggest landmark in the 74th is the Richmond Speedway.

The 74th was represented by powerful Delegate Ball until 1995 when he was defeated in a primary by Donald McEachin. The Donald served for 6 years and when he ran for Attorney General, the seat was won by Floyd Miles. Now McEachin is back to challenge Miles in a flashy primary that will be great to watch.

Miles has been endorsed by the black caucus, Governor Warner, and is the incumbent. But endorsements don't look like they will save him. He hasn't been active in his own district and McEachin with his tacky TV commercials for his law firm keeps high name recognition.

Perhaps only one wrinkle is left to be seen here before we call this race for McEachin. I have not seen an endorsement yet from very popular Henrico County Chairman Frank Thornton. His Fairfield district is what makes up the heart of the 74th district. If he were to strongly back Miles, then we'd move this race to a tossup.

UPDATE: The Richmond Times-Dispatch has an editorial on this race this morning.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Open Thread

While we are working on getting a candidates list- open thread- what are you hearing in your area about candidates? Anyone really impressive that we should be talking about?

I need your help

Filing closed on the primaries 10 days ago. The SBE (State Board of Elections) still does not have the candidates list on their website. I saw some of the final names in the WaPo article, but that was only Northern Virginia....

Here's what I would like to know:

1- What districts had their political parties file for a primary

Then from there broken down like this:

Primaries where two or more filed (contested)
Primaries where one filed (declared nominee)
Primaries where zero filed (reverts to an internal party decision before June 14)

Remember- we need a list of district that asked for a primary, in Virginia the party gets to select.

I could walk down there tomorrow and get this, but notlarrysabato has some unpacking to do. Could someone call the SBE and post it on here in the Comments (Wahoo?). I've got an analysis done for the ones I know about it, but notlarrysabato does not want to be like larry sabato and leave candidates off a list because of my own incompetence!

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Update on 37th District (3rd Hottest)

Lots of developments here, most in the last 48 hours.

We are making our first outlook adjustments in any race.

Overall Outlook: Toss Up

Democratic Primary: Toss Up (Change from Likely Bulova)

Republican Primary: Likely Mason

Possible Matchups:

Bulova v. Mason: Leans Republican (Change from Toss Up)
Bulova v. Kaplan: Leans Democratic (Change from Likely Democratic)
Oleszek v. Mason: Toss Up
Oleszek v. Kaplan: Likely Democratic

The readers of this site are observant enough to see we are giving David Bulova a major across the board downgrade. Bulova has dealt himself two setbacks, either one of which he could survive, but we doubt he can survive both.

Issue #1

Bulova has moved sharply to the left- to the left of California, Vermont or Connecticut even by endorsing gay marriage. No legislature in the country has passed gay marriage without a court order, and bans on it win in red and blue states alike. See the article here. Now, I know some people will say "opposing a ban on gay marriage is different from supporting it". I actually agree with that, but very few voters do, opposing a ban is the same thing as supporting in most people's minds. Keep in mind this was not opposition to Bob Marshall's HB751 that caused so much controversy. This was opposition to the ban on gay marriage that passed 79-17!

This may have been to try to keep up with Oleszek, a charming self described liberal who staked out the same position two weeks earlier. On this and other issues both are inviting a comparison they do not want with Delegate Chap Petersen. Close your eyes and imagine the November mail piece. Mason and his positions on the right. Bulova or Oleszek on the left. and Petersen in the middle with the same positions as Mason.

In Fairfax this may cut into the Democrats margin, but it won't kill your campaign on it's own. That's why while I question Oleszek's savvy in stressing this issue, I'm not downgrading her rating. So why is Bulova's going down?

Issue 2: A tin ear to Fairfax City.

As we discussed in the original analysis of this district, Fairfax City is very important. As a small jurisdiction with only one representative they view things different then Fairfax County voters. And Democrats are trying to overcome their historic losses in the City when a County Dem challenges a City Republican. Yet David Bulova seems to have turned a complete tin ear to this in his first mail piece.

With his mother as a Democratic Supervisor, it won't surprise you that a large majority of Fairfax County elected officials support his campaign. But what may surprise you is that Bulova has not gotten a single elected official in Fairfax City to support him (there are about 20). David took his county support and mailed it right into Fairfax City. My sources tell me that it was a major setback, reminding voters that he wasn't from the City, and didn't draw his support from there. If you think that sounds like a stupid issue- you don't know Fairfax City. A copy of this letter is on David's website.

With concerns already high about the City not having a Delegate or Senator resident for the first time since 1970 Bulova has really stepped into it. His campaign is far from over, but his days as the Democratic frontrunner are over, and he has made his fight in November much more uphill.

Update on the 42nd District (8th Hottest)

Old Rating: Likely Republican
New Rating: Likely Republican
Possible Rating if Werkheiser keeps up some momentum: Leans Republican

Albo

Werkheiser

The Connection went toe to toe with Albo and Werkheiser stories this week. Both of them performed pretty well. Albo was a little whiny... but if he wasn't his constituents would know it was a spokesman! Werkheiser says too much when too little comes out.

Worst Quote (Albo):
"You look at Springfield and the south county before Dave Albo and after, and what you see is that we have more transportation funding in my district than any other place than the entire state," said Albo.

Dave- You don't give that quote while you are running.... that's a quote for after a loss.

Worst Quote (Werkheiser):
If you could meet anyone else, at any time in history, who would it be and why? I would buy Mr. Jefferson a beer the day he drafted the Declaration of Independence.

Greg- The question was if you could MEET someone, not "If you could take anyone out drinking...."

Just a little bashing. Overall both candidates did a good job getting their message out in this article.

Update on the 52nd District (2nd Hottest)

52nd District, incumbent Jeff Frederick (R) vs. Hilda Barg (D)
Previous Outlook: Toss Up
New Outlook: Toss Up

Money is important in politics, there's no question about that. But how it's spent is even more important. Candidates are given a lot of tempting things that will "win them the election" if they only write a check. In the end, a plan that maximizes the $ spent on voter contact is more improtant that the # raised.

VPAP breaks spending into 3 groups. Direct Mail/TV (100% of which is voter contact), staff/consultants (0% of which is voter contact) and "Other" (which includes things like parties (0 % voter contact) and printing (100% voter contact). All in all "other" averages about 50% voter contact.

So now we have our formula to see who is spending their money towards winning the election.

Take for example when Chap Petersen won his House seat in 2001. A quick check of VPAP shows he was outspent 282,000-172,000, by the incumbent. But take a look at the data culled from VPAP

------------------------------ Petersen ------------Rust
Spent Overall----------------- 172,000----------- 282,000

$ on Mail/TV -----------------106,000 -----------34,000
1/2 of $ spent on "other"------- 20,000----------- 52,000

Total Spent on Voter Contact-- 126,000------------ 86,000

Total NOT spent on VC---------- 46,000----------- 196,000

There you have it. Rust outspent Petersen 4-1 in areas other than voter contact. Petersen spent more on contacting voters. Guess who won?

So back to 2005:

It looks like Jeff Frederick is heading down that road of incumbent defeat. He has raised 162,000 and only has 56,000 left! Only about 50% of that money spent appears to be on voter contact. So if you donated to Jeff Frederick- 1/2 of your money has been pissed down the drain for nothing (already!).

Hilda Barg jumped in late in this filing period. She raised 92,000 including a transfer, and has 86,000 left. Her only major expense so far was her announcment party.

Frederick wasting his money won't matter if Barg does the same thing. We will keep the outlook on this race as a "Toss Up" until the next reporting period to see how things come along in this district. But for now the ball seems to be in Hilda's court, with a lean and smart campaign she can take a major advantage in this toss up.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Top 10 Hottest Races as of 4/21

Welcome to our new blog to keep everyone up to date on what is happening in the 2005 Virginia House of Delegates races. We hope both Democrats and Republicans will find this site to be fair. As time allows we will fill in more information on each of the top 10, followed by our "others to watch" list. Here's the opening list of the top 10.. We'll include detailed write ups of all 10, and will update through today and the weekend to finish that (please stay patient!)

The Opening Top Ten!

#1- 87th District- currently Paula Miller (D)
Outlook: Toss Up

#2- 52nd District- currently Jeff Frederick (R)
Outlook: Toss Up

#3- 37th District- currently Chap Petersen (D)
OPEN SEAT- Outlook: Toss Up

#4- 41st District- currently Jim Dillard (R)
OPEN SEAT- Outlook: Toss Up

#5- 35th District- currently Steve Shannon (D)
Outlook: Toss Up

#6- 26th District- currently Glenn Weatherholtz (R)
OPEN SEAT Outlook: Leans Republican

#7- 67th District- currently Gary Reese (R)
Outlook: Likely Republican

#8- 42nd District- currently Dave Albo (R)
Outlook: Likely Republican

#9- 99th District- currently Albert Pollard (D)
OPEN SEAT Outlook: Likely Republican PICKUP

#10- 32nd District- currently Dick Black (R)
Outlook: Likely Republican

As you can see 6 of the top 10 are Republican held. This is because Republicans got most seats they could in 2001, and are now playing a little defense. Other then the open D seats, the only D incumbents with elections currently worth mentioning are 1st term Delegates Miller and Shannon.
Winning all of the top 10 for Democrats would only cut the Republican majority in half. However, if the election were held today, Republicans would pick up one seat (99th) while 3 of the 5 tossups would be in Democratic held seats. In other words, a small Republican pickup is likely today, but we are still a long way out on these elections.
#3, #4, #5 and #8 all border each other along Rt. 123 in Central-South Fairfax County. Those races from the Prince William line, all the way to Tysons Corner will decide whether the Democrats pick up or lose seats statewide this cycle. Not many people will travel to help in all of these districts though, it's faster to get to Roanoke from Richmond then to get from Tysons to Lorton most weekdays!

#1 of the Top 10

#1

87th District, incumbent Paula Miller (D), parts of Norfolk City

Outlook: Toss Up

Miller faces a likely rematch with Michael Ball (R), who she defeated by 97 votes in a December special election. A rematch offers many dynamics which make this currently the state's closest race. The November Election will have much larger turnout and the district should give a edge to Republican Jerry Kilgore. Also a split in the white/black communities within the Democratic Party in the Treasurer's race in Norfolk will make Miller's coalition more challenging to hold together... Will Paula support the black Democratic nominee, or will she support the white independent/incumbent/former Virginia House Speaker Tom Moss? Moss could make this decision easier by running as an clear Independent, but he claims to stay a Democrat and only be running as an Independent because he could not win the D nomination. In short this race could be explosive. All the special election shows is that Paula Miller begins with a 97 vote lead, with probably 10,000 votes waiting to report until November. If Ball chooses not to run, then this race would revert to a "Lean Democratic" outlook, that's the scenario where Miller's incumbency would really help.

#2 of the Top 10

#2

52nd District, incumbent Jeff Frederick (R), parts of Prince William County

Outlook: Toss Up

Democrats got a major boost by successfully recruiting Prince William Supervisor Hilda Barg (D) into this race. This race has a remarkable contrast of the "old guard" of Prince William politics, with the 71 year old Barg, a Supervisor for 18 years and the new very conservative leadership taking over the county, with the 29 year old Frederick. In a lot of ways this race would be similar to a battle between Prince William titans Sen. Chuck Colgan (D) and Del. Bob Marshall (R), both politically, and in the generation contrast.

So can grandma Barg bring home the renegade Frederick? Signals are mixed:

Favoring Barg: Experience. Strong vote totals in Supervisor elections. Strong financial support from the Democratic Establishment. District went for Warner and Kerry. Frederick had an event with Tom Delay this week- Bad timing!

Favoring Frederick: He can knock on a lot more doors. Potential Seniority in House. Committed base that helped him defeat the incumbent in a primary in 03. Democratic performance in Prince William is much lower in state election years. Warner carried in 01, but so did Kilgore. Kaine won it also, but by only about 150 votes.

Barg's Supervisor District is about 60% of this district. Right now we're calling this a tossup, which Barg would win if the election were held today. It must be noted however, Frederick's 03 totals were stronger than other Republicans who have run there- he is not the pushover many Democrats think he is. If Kilgore gets 50% here (including Potts) Frederick will probably survive. If Kilgore wins here with less than 50% (most likely outcome), or if Kaine wins here, then Hilda Barg is a Delegate.

#3 of the Top 10

#3

37th District, incumbent Chap Petersen (D), all of Fairfax City, parts of Fairfax County

Outlook: Toss Up

The district that hosted 2001's most exciting campaign looked like it was headed for a boring one this year. With Chap Petersen leaving the seat open to run for Lt. Governor, the seat in the heart of Fairfax was open. The top two Democratic recruits were in both residents of the district for over 30 years, David Bulova (D), son of the popular local Supervisor Sharon Bulova (D) and Fairfax County School Board Member Janet Oleszek (D), 2003's biggest vote getter at large for the School Board. The Republicans were left with a candidate who just moved to the district, Jim Kaplan (R), who's community service was so slim that he listed "parents of multiples" (twins) as one of his community involvements that qualified him for the House of Delegates. But the Democrats parade to Richmond halted the day of the filing deadline, when former Fairfax City Mayor John Mason (R), jumped into the contest.

This district is always one of the close ones in statewide contests. We're rating it as a Toss Up for now, because there are many factors that will play into this race that we don't yet know enough about. They are:

#1- Will the Democratic Nominee have popular Delegate Petersen on the ballot with them in November (unlikely, but a potential boost to the Democratic Nominee).

#2- Will Fairfax City continue it's tradition of crushing Democratic nominees from outside the City, when their opponent is from the City? Under that scenario the string of losses for Democrats inside the City is long and unbroken.. from Emilie Miller in 3 Senate elections in 83, 87, and 91, Sally Ormsby in 87 and 89 for Delegate, Les Schoene in 97 for Delegate and Leslie Byrne in 99 for Senate. In all of these elections where the Republicans had a City candidate, and the Democrats did not, Republicans won the City by more than 2-1 (remarkable in an otherwise evenly divided area). Republicans used that margin to win every Delegate race above, but in the Senate contests where the City is only 10% of the district Democrats Miller and Byrne both won once.

#3- How will #1 effect #2? Would the City split it's votes between Petersen and Mason, or would Petersen have coattails? The likely answer is coattails, looking at the 2003 elections you can see Petersen's impact on the Senate race between Christian and Devolities. His coattails nearly provided the upset of the year. But again, that requires Petersen winning the primary statewide.

#4- Is there any difference between nominating Bulova or Oleszek for the Democrats? A major one, Bulova will be stronger in Fairfax County, especially Braddock District where his mother has served for over 20 years. Oleszek will be stronger in the City, since the County schools also run the schools in Fairfax City, and she is less antagonizing then the son of a County Supervisor.

#5- Will Kaplan get out of Mason's way or will he force a primary? If Kaplan gets out, it would be a major boost to Mason's resources. If he stays in, it hurts Mason, Petersen and Bulova. Petersen is hurt by Republican voters voting in that primary, instead of for him the same day. Bulova is hurt by Petersen's hurt, he is the more conservative primary candidate and is more likely to get Republicans voting for Petersen to also push his button (in the primary). Remember, you can only vote in one primary this year.

#6- Exactly how popular is Mason? He won big for 15 years as Mayor of Fairfax City, then was hammered in his 2003 re-election by almost a 2-1 margin. The issue was development, and if that was really the case, Mason should be ok in his comeback. If the issue was arrogance and the fact voters got tired of him, this will be uphill.

Outlook:

Republican Primary: Likely Mason

Democratic Primary: Likely Bulova

General Election matchups:

Bulova v. Kaplan- Likely Bulova (D)
Bulova v. Mason- Toss Up
Oleszek v. Kaplan- Likely Oleszek (D)
Oleszek v. Mason- Toss Up

#4 of the Top 10

#4
41st District, incumbent Jim Dillard, part of Fairfax County
Outlook: Toss Up

This should have been the #1 race of the year to watch. A district George Bush won by 18 votes out of 30,000+ cast. A Warner, Kaine and Kilgore district in 2001. And lots of exciting candidates.

But one by one the top candidates have all dropped out. Choices 1, 2 and 3 for the Democrats all looked like they were in, then they were out. Springfield School Board member Cathy Belter was choice 1, but for unknown reasons she decided not to do it. 1999 Democratic Nominee Eileen Filler-Corn, an aide to Governor Warner was choice 2, but citing her job with the Governor she was out. Choice 3 for the Democrats was former Chap Petersen aide Ben Tribbett, but he was in and then back out.

The Republicans have had no better luck. Their consensus choice, former school board member and 2003 nominee for Chairman of Fairfax County Mychele Brickner had family issues come up and decided not to make the race. Moderate Republican Brad Davis, a teacher at the local high school, was the second choice for the "electibility first" wing of the party. But he too dropped out.

What does that leave us with? Democratic Nominee David Marsden, a former aide to Governor Gilmore (guess why he was the fourth choice), and Republican candidates Michael Golden, and Bill Finnerfrock vying to be the GOP's third choice.

Yawn. We'll look into this more as we get more information. For now, take a look at what we missed:

Belter v. Brickner
A match up of candidates, both of whom lost previous fights to move up, but won seats on the Fairfax County School Board. Slight Edge to Belter, but a great race to watch.
Belter v. Golden
Much like the Barg v. Frederick race this would have been old experience, vs. young leadership. Belter isn't quite as old as Barg however, and this district is a little more Democratic. Edge to Belter, but fun to watch.
Filler-Corn v. Brickner
Yeow! Two female candidates who are well known for their hard hitting previous campaign. Can anyone say catfight!?! In a dignified manner of course.
Filler-Corn v. Golden
Filler-Corn who ran in 1999 to Dillard's left (yes, it is possible) vs. Golden who ran well to Dillard's right in 2003. Basically very liberal v. neo-conservative in the closest district in the state. This might have been the best one to watch of all. Both candidates are in their 30's, so the stakes would have been huge, as the winner would be Delegate for a long time.
Tribbett v. Golden
Speaking of being Delegate for a long time. This would have been the youngest matchup in Virginia history! This is the guys version of a catfight, neither Michael Golden or Ben Tribbett know how to throw a jab, it's all haymakers. Another factor is both candidates have lived in this district for most of their lives. That usually makes an election turn into something that looks like a high school student government race.
Marsden v. Davis
The funniest matchup. Party switching Gilmore/Dillard aide David Marsden (D), versus party switching Dillard aide Brad Davis (R). They both might have dropped out if they learned you can only be a member of one caucus in Richmond.

#5 of the Top 10

#5
35th District, incumbent Steve Shannon, part of Fairfax County
Outlook: Toss Up

After winning JeanneMarie Devolities house seat back for the Democrats, this was expected to be a brawl for Steve Shannon to get re-elected. This Vienna/Oakton seat is Republican leaning, and is historically anti-tax.

However, so far the Republicans are not impressive. Ed Robinson has raised lots of money. But don't think that is grassroots- his report is almost 100% out of state donations. In fact, no other candidate in recent memory has had a report that was more unclear on where they were running. There was only one contribution from the 35th District. Jim Hyland is the most impressive candidate on paper. But his fundraising has been a disappointment, and he lost a 2003 Supervisor race in a landslide to a very bland Democratic Nominee. How would he defeat the more energetic Steve Shannon? Finally Arthur Purves is running. He runs all the time for things, and is not worth mentioning.

If the Republicans don't showing some credibility soon, this race will be changed to a "Lean Democratic".

#6 of the Top 10

#6
#6- 26th District- incumbent, Glenn Weatherholtz (R), all of Harrisonburg City, parts of Rockingham County

Outlook: Leans Republican

With Delegate Weatherholtz retiring the Democrats sense an opportunity. They have drafted their dream candidate, Lowell Fulk, a farmer, school board member and conservative Democrat. The Republicans top candidate, Weatherholtz aide John Elledge decided not to run, and the Republicans had to scramble to find Matt Lohr, another local school board member to run.

But this election still leans Republican. Rockingham County is one of the most Republican counties in Virginia. Jerry Kilgore could carry this district with 60% or more. With any other candidate Democrats would already be finished here. With Fulk, this race is worth watching. Fulk will need at least 2,500 Kilgore Republicans to cross over and vote for him, and we'll be waiting to see if he is making progress towards that.

#7 of the Top 10

#7

67th District- incumbent, Gary Reese (R), part of Fairfax County, part of Loundon County

Outlook: Likely Republican

This is the most exciting primary challenge currently going on in Virginia. Here's why:

#1- Reese is being attacked as "liberal" and "pro-tax", but he voted against the final budget last year. If this charge sticks on Reese for having been for an earlier version of the budget that did not pass, then it may change how Delegates view their votes while in Richmond.

#2- Primary Challenger Chris Craddock is a youth minister in the district. This is saving him a lot of money as his "students" have already been seen lit dropping all over the district.

#3- When Reese won this seat in 2001, he only got 39% of the vote in the Republican primary. The other 61% was split between two much more conservative candidates. Since then, Reese has given himself a voting record to attack, and a new Senator now represents this district, conservative Ken Cuccinelli. The traction could be much greater this year against Reese than in 2001.

#4- A Democrat can win. Unlike many of the other districts where Republican primary challenges are going on, this district is only barely Republican. Democrats have local school board member Kathy Smith waiting in the wings. If she runs- this race goes from "Likely Republican" to "Leans Republican". Against Craddock it becomes a "Toss Up" and one of the closest in Virginia.

#8 of the Top 10

#8
42nd District, incumbent Dave Albo (R), part of Fairfax County

Outlook: Likely Republican

Democrats have a strong challenger in young attorney Greg Werkheiser. The district went for John Kerry last year, so this should be a potential pickup.

But Werkheiser has a long way to go before this can be called a close race. Albo has never received less than 60% of the vote in this district. While the Lorton area has had a population surge, new voters are less likely to vote in a state election.

Werkheiser's best chance is Albo looking past this election. We'll keep our eyes focused on this election to see if that's happening.

#9 of the Top 10

#9

99th District, incumbent, Albert Pollard, all of King George, Lancaster, Northumberland, Richmond, and Westmoreland and part of Caroline County.

Outlook: Likely Republican (PICKUP)

The 99th District is one of the most Republican seats Democrats currently have. In 1999, the 99th District was opened up, and a young environmental activist Albert Pollard surprised Virginia with a victory. With Pollard retiring to spend more time with his young family, Democrats need another surprise.

The challenge for Dems is that not only is Pollard retiring, but he basically endorsed Republican Rob Whittman to replace him. Democrats found a candidate in Linda Crandell, but nothing so far indicates that she can even keep this election competitive.

#10 of the Top 10

#10
32nd District, incumbent Dick Black, part of Loundon County

Outlook: Likely Republican

The 32nd District includes some of Loundon County's most Republican precincts. But Delegate Dick Black has never quite locked it up. He is consistently not only a very conservative voice, but a very divisive voice. Democrats are nominating David Poisson for this seat.

While Black is the favorite, Poisson has a real chance if he can engage the surging population in this district to come out and vote. He has a chance at doing that if he can define Black as so controversial that it is worth voting for the first time. We'll watch this one, and may move it to a "Leans Republican" if Poisson can run a strong campaign.