Oct 19, 2022 - Politics

Richmond’s election year peace and quiet

Illustration of a white shrug emoji over a divided blue and red background with elements of ballots.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

For the Richmond region, this year's election feels a lot like a storm passing just to the north.

What's happening: There are only two seriously competitive congressional races in Virginia this year, and neither of them are anywhere near Richmond.

Why it matters: The shift — a result of last year's redistricting decisions — has left mailboxes empty of campaign flyers and local airwaves free of annoying political ads.

Context: Chesterfield and Henrico used to claim a decent chunk of the state's 7th Congressional District, which has been making big election year news since 2013 when an obscure economics professor, Dave Brat, beat then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a shocking primary night upset.

  • Henrico resident and former CIA agent Rep. Abigail Spanberger pushed it into swing-district territory in 2018 when she offed Brat.

Starting this year, the 7th has moved to the outskirts of Northern Virginia, stretching from Culpeper to Prince William County.

  • Spanberger, who faces Republican Yesli Vega, a Prince William supervisor, has said she'll move if she wins re-election, though there's no federal requirement that congressional candidates live in their districts.
  • The only other race considered close this year is in Hampton Roads, where Republicans have a decent chance of winning the 2nd District, currently represented by Rep. Elaine Luria.

Meanwhile, the Richmond region has been left with two races so uncompetitive the candidates aren't even bothering with yard signs, let alone TV ads.

  • The portions of Henrico and Chesterfield that used to be part of the 7th have instead been folded into the state's 1st District, a safe Republican seat represented by Rep. Rob Wittman.
  • And the rest of the area (and all of the city proper) falls into the 4th District, a safe Democratic seat represented by Rep. Don McEachin.

For the record: There are no state or local races on the ballot, but voters in Henrico and Chesterfield are both being asked to approve bond referendums to fund the construction of schools, parks and public safety infrastructure.

What we're missing: Meanwhile, our friends to the north are absorbing the barrage of ads we'd normally be seeing down here — $21.6 million worth so far, per VPAP.


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