Virginia House of Delegates 2005 Elections

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

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Statewide Primaries (Democrats)

In three weeks the Republican primary for Gov, Lt. Gov and Attorney General, as well as the Democratic primary for Lt. Governor will have a major impact on what happens in the House primaries, and in the House races in November. Here's a look at where the statewide field stands and who is impacted in the House races.

Today we will cover the Democrats. Tomorrow, the Republicans.


Democrats have only one primary statewide. Their ticket of Tim Kaine for Governor (Richmond) and Creigh Deeds for Attorney General (Bath County) is the start of a geographically balanced one, but not particularly helpful in competitive House races.

For whatever reason, Tim who ran better in the Richmond suburbs then any other Democrat in recent history in 2001, has not attracted strong House candidates to run with him there. We just don't understand this as Democrats fielded very strong Richmond area candidates in 2001 like Ed Barber and John Montgomery. We expected the same and more this year with Tim Kaine but nothing has materialized.

Creigh Deeds represents the western part of Virginia on the Democratic ticket. With the exception of Lowell Fulk in Harrisonburg, no competitive House race lies with 100 miles of him. Again, while he may be a strong statewide candidate, he is not going to be able to have a big impact on the House races.

So that leaves Lt. Governor's race as the only one that can really benefit the Democratic House candidates. Here's the candidates and who's rooting for them:

Phil Puckett is from Tazewell, Virginia deep in the Southwest. The fighting 9th which for years has been near parity between Democrats and Republicans took a sharp turn right in last Novembers Presidential contest. With Jerry Kilgore leading the GOP ticket Republicans are looking at this year as an opportunity to seize control of the Southwest. Democratic House incumbents who may be fighting hard to survive are looking to Phil Puckett to win the nomination and help them win in November. Right now that looks like a long shot.

On the inverse, many competitive races are in Northern Virginia. The greatest challenge for Democrats there is turnout. In Northern Virginia more Democrats then Republicans are "federal" voters. These Democrats are younger and much more liberal then Virginia. Phil Puckett will do nothing to help the ticket attract them to the polls, and so while southwest incumbents want Puckett badly, Northern Virginia challengers are wincing at the possibility.

Leslie Byrne in internal polls leads the contest for Lt. Governor. A pro-union, pro-choice Northern Virginian, Leslie lost her seat in Congress fighting to pass the Clinton agenda in 1994. That earned her amazing name recognition rates. Her primary frontrunner status is partly based on the fact that Democrats overwhelmingly approved of her performance in Congress and to this day continue to like her. A negative is Republicans remember her and have a massive disapproval of her in Northern Virginia. With many more Democrats as "federal voters" in Northern Virginia, she could be a major boost to challengers if her candidacy can bring out a few hundred voters in each district that otherwise wouldn't have voted. With her strong union ties, Leslie will surprise some Republicans as the second choice of Democrats in the union heavy areas of the Southwest.

The House candidates in other areas are not thrilled about Leslie on the ticket. She won't add a lot to helping Lowell Fulk, Ward Armstrong or candidates in Tidewater. Based on recent intelligence, they may just have to deal with it. Leslie looks like the front runner to win the nomination.

J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen is the youngest and most energetic Democrat running. As far as house races go, he probably is the second best to help Democrats in Northern Virginia pick up house seats. Chap won't bring out a lot of voters, but he will be a friendly face to campaign with those candidates. No candidates in any part of Virginia are concerned about Chap hurting their chances in November. But very few think he adds anything to their effort either.

Chap's biggest weakness is a lack of a base. You just can't be nominated without any winning at least one Democratic voter group. Unions? Nope. Pro-Choicers? Nope. His own area of Northern Virginia? Nope.

Viola Baskerville has been the biggest disappointment of this campaign. At the beginning with a strong African American base she looked to be the frontrunner. But since then she has failed to broaden her appeal, and has seen parts of her own base turn on her in Richmond. Her campaign will effect some House primaries, but won't affect anything in November because she won't be on the ticket.

Specific House primaries

37th District

Current Rating: Leans Bulova

In this primary for Chap Petersen's Delegate seat the statewide primary will have a major impact. This is not only Chap's seat, but also has been represented by Leslie Byrne at all levels of government at times over the last two decades. If Leslie runs even in the Fairfax COUNTY precincts here, it will be a big boost to Janet Oleszek who is the more liberal primary candidate. However in Fairfax CITY, where Oleszek is stronger then opponent David Bulova, Oleszek needs Petersen to run strong. In short, part of the reason this primary leans Bulova is it would be hard for both to happen at the same time. That's probably what Oleszek needs to pull the upset.

45th District

Current Rating: Toss Up (Englin and Garvey)

The statewide primary probably will have less impact here then the 45th primary has on them. Leslie Byrne will probably run strong here, but in the 8th district, the turnout will be more generated by the House candidates, with her benefiting from that then vise versa. The only wildcard here may be Baskerville. If Baskerville can help turnout some African Americans here that could have an impact. It's hard to tell who it would help though.

57th District

Old Rating: Likely Toscano
New Rating: Safe Toscano

In this safe Democratic district, we can now project former Mayor David Toscano as the winner of the Democratic primary and the new Delegate from the 57th District, replacing Mitch Van Yahres. The statewide primary can't impact a race that's over.

71st District

Rating: Toss Up

In the race to replace Viola Baskerville, the incumbent looms large. A majority of her supporters will vote for her chosen replacement, Jennifer McClellan. But with Leslie Byrne and Chap Petersen campaigning hard here, and anyone not voting for Viola much more likely to support Melvin Law this primary will go down to the wire. Here's our guess to the formula that will determine the winner.

Viola 75% or more- McClellan wins
Viola 65%-75%- Toss Up (most likely scenario in her House district)
Viola 65% or less- Law wins

74th District

Rating: Leans McEachin

Incumbent Floyd Miles must be frustrated. Statewide candidates all target voters who have voted in Democratic primaries before. So in the 74th, they are all pushing the 2001 primary list. Donald McEachin's list. Basically they are all helping Donald (without even trying). Miles must wonder if he is ever going to catch a break in this one.

75th District

Rating: Toss Up

None of the statewide candidates have a base here, so don't expect them to impact this wide open race in the 75th. If anyone can impact this one it could be Viola Baskerville. Heavy African American turnout could benefit Roslyn Tyler. But we don't see that happening.

90th District

Outlook: Likely Howell

Again, the statewide shouldn't have a big impact here in Norfolk. This primary is coming down to one thing. Were voters embarrassed enough by Howell and his "droopy drawers" bill to turn him out of office? We don't think so, but it will be worth watching to get the verdict.


At 4:40 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Trivia Question.

Using the great map done by Jaded-JD......

Open up the Northern Virginia zoom.

Look at the yellow districts (tossups), light pink (leans GOP), baby blue (leans Dem) and add in the 36th, 39th and 51st. What does that look like to you?

First person to answer correctly wins a prize.

(Hint: It's on topic with this post)

At 8:33 AM, Blogger not paul goldman said...

Interesting point involving the Statewides and the are right they cannot help but push a list that voted McEachin in '01...nice analysis NLS

At 8:50 AM, Blogger not paul goldman said...

By the way has anyone goten any sort of Statewide communication? Phones or Mail? I have seen nothing.

At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Not Mark Rozell said...

I like your analysis. Like you, I think Leslie will win because of her ties to labor unions and grass-roots activists. Neither are particularly strong constituencies in general elections, but that does not matter in what I call a "whipsaw primary" where both parties are participating, leaving little opportunity for crossover. Even small constituencies count here.

Leslie will be a problem for the Dems in November. Chap! is their best chance for pulling out a victory in the LG race, even though, as you point out, he probably won't have very long coattails for Dem House candidates.

Sean Connaughton will walk all over Leslie Byrne. If the Dems nominate her, Bill Bolling is their only hope.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger not paul goldman said... the 71st I think that Viola is going to come in under 65%..although I am not sure that translate into a win for might..I want to think on that for the moment...I don't think she will get the Richmond Free Press endorsement...that will hurt her and may contribute to her coming in under 65% in the 71st

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

NMR- Thank You. I'm doing the GOP ones tonight, I have a real tough time seeing Sean C. getting it. Byrne v. Bolling may be the most entertaining race we have had in a long time.

NPG- Yes, I have heard of Byrne's first mailer, and it got good reviews. Byrne hired Petersen's old mail company.

Also NPG- I thought you were more bullish on Law?

At 10:40 AM, Blogger not paul goldman said...

Oh I am very bullish on Law...I am just thinking about your numbers..I guess at the end of the day I am not convienced that there is a correlation between Viola's vote and the ultimate outcome in the 71st.

At 10:41 AM, Blogger not paul goldman said...

I have not seen Byrne's mailer...what part of the state? I have voted in every Dem primary ever...I have to be on the list and I have not recieved anything

At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leslie Byrne = The Democrats' alternative to Jim Gilmore.

At 10:53 AM, Anonymous Not Mark Rozell said...

NLS - Connaughton definitely has his work cut out for him. But don't count him out - there are lots of votes in NoVa and Hampton Roads.

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Puckett is from Lebanon, not Tazewell

At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it would be interesting to look at the Dem primaries for ALL of the down ballot races in the Hampton Roads area in respect to the Dem LG race. Petersen has put a ton of effort into the region. If turnout for these primaries is large and Petersen wins those voters by a significant margin it could have a significant impact on the race. Where's the turnout going to be highest and the margins for the LG candidates the widest? Richmond? Tidewater? or Hampton Roads?

At 11:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've got to me kidding me. BYRNE?!?!?! BYRNE?!?!?!

Are you people insane? What planet are you living on? Why would you vote for Byrne? Have you lost all touch with reality? Do you really think Byrne could get more than 40% against even Bolling? She'd even lose to Gilmore!

Bunch of freaking wacktivists...

At 12:13 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Petersen fan-

I think 3 of the 4 local primaries in Hampton Roads are Sheriffs primaries.

a) Sheriffs primaries don't bring out a massive turnout (usually)

b) In Hampton Roads they are very racially charged. It will be hard for Petersen to unite those extra voters that are coming to the polls polarized.

If he can, it would be a good strategy, and might give him a shot of winning

At 12:15 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Lebanon, Tazewell. I thought that was the same thing. Sorry.

At 12:19 PM, Anonymous Not Mark Rozell said...

Leslie Byrne is popular for the same reason Ken Cuccinelli is popular. The grass-roots partisans love these two because they are both unreformed activists themselves.

Activists tend not to gravitate towards a Sean Connaughton or a Chap Petersen because these two guys play well with others. But the average voter loves them to death, and for exactly the same reason: they play well with others, and in politics that gets things done.

At 12:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes exactly...

I think Leslie Byrne is fine. But seriously folks, Chap would be a great statewide candidate - both this year and in 2009.

I've heard so much talk from idiots about how VA is a "blue state" now. Or a "purple state". BS. Come back to reality, fools.

At 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Larry: I'll give your trivia question a shot. Is it a dragon with a broken leg?

At 1:33 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

No. It's on topic. Dragons are not on topic

At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Terry M said...

Could it be a big L ?

Great review! BTW, I received a very low-tech one-page flyer today hand-dropped by the Chap Peterson campaign. On one side was a grainy picture of Chap and family and his standard bio stuff. The other side had a sharp attack on Leslie Bryne's electability and accused her of voting to raising taxes 59 times over her career. Kind of stuff you'd expect to see from a cash strapped candidate in the fall. Seems to tie into the posting..maybe Chap is getting a little frustrated?? Or maybe a not so subtle message disquised to look amature or "note from a friend". This seemed like a very quick and targeted message for clearly identified Dems who might be having second thoughts about Leslie. I'm on the Dem lists as a strong Dem voter and live in what should be Leslie country inside the Beltway in Mason district (Hummer precinct). PS: Didn't change my mind a bit about supporting fact quite the opposite. This related NLS post helps too!!

At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Terry Mt said...

Ok, I printed and traced it...looks a little like a chicken or duck laying an egg..?

At 5:08 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Cmon. Think politically- not like an artist!!!!!!!

It is related to this post.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger Hirons said...

It looks like an unelectable blob - you know kind of like the statewide Democrats!

At 5:30 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Wow Hirons that was nice. I can't believe the Democratic voters of a Democratic Supervisor district didn't want you to represent them last year!

At 5:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a lame duck?

At 6:46 PM, Anonymous JC said...

Bolling vs. Leslie would match two very cranky, prickly people and would be great entertainment. It wouldn't be good politics or good government. Chap vs. Sean would be the qulaity race from a government policy standpoint. both are intellectually acute and would not hesitate to articulate differing political philosophies on a higher plane than we are used to seeing in Virginia (or, maybe anywhere these days). When you sort it out, Connaughton could probably wipe the floor with any of the Dems except Chap. Chap would do better in Connaughton's Northern Virginia base and possible pull votes toward Kaine from Kilgore. Bolling would lose to Chap, has a chance against Baskerville, and might beat Leslie. I discount Puckett, perhaps unfairly since I live on the other side of the State.

At 7:07 PM, Anonymous Larry Sabato's Hairpiece said...

A friend of mine once said to me that Leslie Byrne was drawn out of her Senate seat in the single greatest act of bipartisanship in the history of our Commonwealth. I laughed when I heard it but only because it was just so true...

At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bolling vs. whomever. Does it matter?

Try as they might, Connaughton is not the stronger candidate. Dems are pushing Connaughton hard because they know he's beatable and sandbags the ticket.

Bolling riles up the activists. I'm in complete agreement with whomever posted the "Bolling vs. Byrne" comparison. You have to unreformed activists that will pull their base, and for the GOP, Kilgore is going to need all the help they can get against Tim Kaine. Bolling provides that fire for the activists. Byrne does the same for Kaine.

Bolling vs. Byrne. Chap! is definitely one for the future though. Very impressed with his campaign so far, and if he wins would probably be the Dems best bet.

At 10:29 PM, Blogger john galt said...

Dear NLS,

You do awesome work. A few questions/comments:

Will you ever reveal your true identity (like Pastor John did)?

What do you predict turnout will be in the 35th, 37th, and 41st house primaries? (Please limit your predicted range to 4%--i.e., 7-11%.)

Get to work on the Republican primaries post! I am waiting with baited breath!

At 11:50 PM, Blogger Politicl.Animal said...

Oh Not Larry, do you see a donkey?

At 11:54 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

Since everyone is being much more creative than I on the trivia question, I will give you the answer.

It's the old 11th District (give or take a couple of precincts).

In other words, where the strongest Byrne lovers and haters are..... is where every single competitive Northern Virginia Delegate race is happening.

Six that could go either way.

At 6:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Give me Byrne or give me defeat"

-VA Democratic Party

At 12:10 AM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

John Galt, undecided on revealing my identity. As for the turnout in those districts I would guess 8-12% in the R primary. Is that where you live? What are you hearing?

At 9:07 AM, Anonymous Not Mark Rozell said...

Anonymous - My unreformed activists theory only applies to party nominations. Once you get to the general, those unreformed activists tend to become liabilities.

Bolling is a surprisingly weak candidate considering he's had three years to lock this thing up. The fact that Connaughton is even competitive with him in the primary does not bode well for Bolling in the general.

Your post ignored one critical vote-rich territory that automatically makes Connaugton strong: Northern Virginia. Connaughton can deliver those votes in the general and perhaps set up some coattails for Kilgore. Bolling can't do that. Northern Virginians can't stomach him. That's why he automatically loses to Chap! and is still not the clear winner in a matchup with Leslie.

You see, in Virginia it's not just about politics. Region plays an amazing role in these elections. Mark my words, the best ticket for the GOP this year is Kilgore/Connaughton/McDonnell. Nominating Bolling will cost the GOP critical votes in Northern Virginia, which is home to something like 1 in every 10 voters.

At 5:26 PM, Blogger Not Larry Sabato said...

You mean more than 3 in 10

At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure that the 57th is all wrapped up. Mainstream Charlottesville democrats have consistantly underestimated the "Democrats for Change" faction. (Look what happened to Merideth Richards...)

Toscano has relies on his "annointment" by the party leadership, but I think it's gonna be close. The leadership has really set him up -- if he takes less than 66%, all the talk will be about how poorly he ran...

At 11:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The thought that Leslie Byrne could win a statewide election is absurd. Just look at her record of losing in her home base. This is just a last gasp by a desparate career politician. At candidate's forum in Lynchburg she even came out in favor of a moratorium on the death penalty. Yeah that will help Tim Kaine who already has a death penalty problem. She bragged about her F rating from the NRA and came out in favor of civil unions. If she comes out of the primary, the Republicans are going to eat her lunch.


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