With Monday's deadline for primary registration, local races are starting to shape up
With a day to go before the primary filing deadline, it appears as if the prospective Democratic nominee in the state Senate’s 16th District will, by virtue of the nomination, get a hall pass to Richmond in November.
According to a review of state Department of Elections records by The Progress-Index, unless an independent or write-in campaign is waged, the June 11 primary pitting incumbent Rosalyn R. Dance against challenger Joseph D. Morrissey will also decide the winner in the November general election. As of Sunday, no Republican appears to have filed papers for candidacy.
The same goes for the 63rd House District, where Democrat Lashrecse D. Aird appears to have smooth sailing to a third term in the House of Delegates.
The deadline for candidates to register for a Democratic or Republican is Monday, April 15.
The 16th Senate and the 63rd House districts overlap and are considered very strong Democratic territories. However, there is a movement to reboot Republicans in Petersburg, a major component of both districts. JaVonni Brustow, a Washington, D.C.-based conservative commentator and founder of the PopGlitz news outlet, recently relocated to Petersburg and has joined with Patrick Washington, the GOP member of the Petersburg Electoral Board, to restart the city’s Republican Committee.
The area race to watch
The 16th Senate District primary is shaping up to be an interesting contest and possibly could be the main one for the Tri-City area to watch this primary season.
Morrissey, a controversial former Richmond prosecutor and state lawmaker, is trying for the second time to unseat Dance, a first-term senator with deep roots in Petersburg. His first attempt four years ago was short-circuited when he was disqualified from the House of Delegates for running in a Senate district where he did not reside.
Morrissey is campaigning as an outsider and someone who will put constituent service over political establishment, and has thus far released two social-media videos of him speaking to voters about what they want to see in their next state senator and appearing to shore up support from those who say they support a change in the seat.
The 16th District stretches from Petersburg and Hopewell to south and east Richmond, picking up portions of Dinwiddie, Chesterfield and Prince George along the way.
While Morrissey is appealing to disenfranchised voters, Dance is running on her record of service. She has advocated for changes in the state’s minimum-wage law and reform in Virginia’s hiring standards. She and Aird, her former legislative aide who succeeded her as delegate when Dance opted to run for Senate in 2015, recently scored a major victory in landing $315 million in state funding to build a replacement for Central State Hospital in Dinwiddie County within the next five years.
A former Petersburg mayor, Dance also has developed close professional and personal ties with influential Democrats in the Richmond area and statewide who are expected to throw their support behind her for the primary.
Test of new boundaries
The June 11 primary is expected to be a major litmus test of the newly drawn House district boundaries. A federal court recently adopted new lines for 26 districts across the state in order to alleviate racial gerrymandering in 11 of them, including the 63rd District. Since the 11 districts had to be redrawn, that also meant neighboring districts also saw their lines, and maybe even their political influences, move,
This year, the 63rd is picking up all of Dinwiddie County while ceding parts of Hopewell, another traditionally Democratic base, to the 62rd House District to unify that city into one district.
The 62nd is guaranteed a new face in Richmond next January, as longtime GOP Del. Riley E, Ingram is retiring after 27 years. Ingram has endorsed Chesterfield County School Board member Carrie E. Coyner as the Republican nominee.
On the Democratic side in the 62nd, two candidates will vie in the primary to oppose Coyner -- Lindsey M. Dougherty of Chester and Tavorise K. Marks of Chesterfield County.
The 62nd stretches from Hopewell and portions of Prince George County to southeaster Chesterfield and has been a reliably red district, although Ingram had a close shave two years ago, defeating Democrat Sheila Bynum-Coleman by 800 votes -- a whisker in political circles.
By virtue of the court-mandated redistricting, Bynum-Coleman will be running as a Democrat in the 66th House District against House Speaker M. Kirkland Cox of Colonial Heights in a district that could be a tighter November race than initially thought, thanks to the new lines.
The court redrew the district to pick up a significant portion of the Jefferson Davis Highway corridor between Chester and the Richmond city limits. The voter base in that region traditionally has supported Democrats in the past, and Cox has been roasted by state Democrats on a regular basis for his stance against abortion and a perceived general defiance against House Democrats.
Another race to watch
In the 11th Senate District that includes Colonial Heights and much of central and north Chesterfield, GOP incumbent Amanda F. Chase is seeking her second term in a district generally considered a safe Republican seat, She will face the winner of the Democratic primary, either Amanda L. Pohl or E. Wayne Powell.
Four years ago, Chase defeated incumbent Stephen H. Martin in a three-way GOP primary and went on to defeat Powell that November with more than two-thirds of the vote.
During her Senate tenure, Chase became known for supporting gun rights and other traditional Republican values. She also was successful in getting Virginia to repeal its requirement that public-school systems start classes after Labor Day.
But she also has pushed for government transparency with a Democratic colleague. This session, Chase also got some attention when she refused to join the GOP call for the ouster of Lt. Gov. Justin E. Fairfax over allegations of sexual misconduct with two women. Chase pushed for due process over a GOP move to hold legislative hearings on Fairfax’s case.
Bill Atkinson may be reached at 804-722-5167 or email@example.com. On Twitter: @BAtkinsonpi.