Updated Nov 3, 2021 - Politics

Battle of the burbs: Virginia GOP poised for House gains

Illustration of picket fence with I Voted stickers.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Control of the Virginia House of Delegates hung in the balance Tuesday night as Republicans looked poised to win seats in some key suburban districts, threatening a 55-45 Democratic majority.

Why it matters: While the Virginia governor's contest has dominated headlines, the outcome of House races could preview what's to come across the country in next year's midterm elections.

  • Virginia Democrats have passed big policy goals over the last two years — from criminal justice reform, easing restrictions on abortions, and expanding voting access, AP reports.

What they're saying: A strong showing by Republican Glenn Youngkin appears to have elevated the GOP down-ballot.

  • "Democrats have about a 2-1 fundraising advantage in House races, but it looks like party-line voting and momentum are more powerful than money," said Mark Rozell, dean of the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University.

Yes, but: Even if Republicans pull off a majority in the House and win the governorship, Democrats have a majority in the state Senate, where elections aren't until 2023.

  • "The Senate will be that brick wall to stop Republicans from undoing much of the progressive agenda that Democrats enacted over the previous four years," he told Axios.

Zoom in: Democrats in northern Virginia appeared to hold their seats, while the GOP lead contests where they would pick up seats in Hampton Roads and elsewhere in the state. Here are some of the local races we watched:

10th District: Wendy Gooditis (D) v Nick Clemente (R )

  • Gooditis had a 1.5 percentage point lead over Republican challenger Clemente late Tuesday night, with two precincts still to report, per unofficial results.
  • The race to represent part of Loudoun, Clarke, and Frederick Counties shattered fundraising records. Gooditis had unseated a Republican incumbent in 2017 thanks to a blue wave.

51st District: Briana D. Sewell (D) v Tim D. Cox (R)

  • Sewell was defending her seat with 55% of the vote against Republican challenger Cox, with one precinct still to report late Tuesday night.
  • The 51st District seat in Prince William County went up for grabs after incumbent Hala Ayala (D) decided to run for lieutenant governor instead.

31st District: Elizabeth Guzmán (D) v Ben Baldwin (R)

  • Three-term incumbent Guzman had a nearly 8 percentage point lead over Republican challenger Baldwin, with three precincts left to count.
  • Guzmán campaigned on supporting workers, while Baldwin focused on improving what he calls Virginia's poor pandemic response.

40th District: Dan Helmer (D) v Harold Pyon (R )

  • The race was fiercely competitive, as Republicans sought to regain control from incumbent Helmer, who flipped the district from red to blue in 2019 for the first since the 1990s, the Prince William Times reported.
  • Helmer commanded a 10-percentage point lead with five precincts to go across Fairfax and Prince William counties.
  • In September, Pyon's campaign was accused of distributing anti-semitic mailings about Helmer, which the campaign denied as antisemitic.

2nd District: Candi P. M. King (D) v Gina R. Ciarcia (R)

  • Del. King, who won the seat in a January special election to represent parts of Prince William and Stafford counties, led last night with 58.90% of vote the over Ciarcia, who received 40.96%.

52nd District: Luke Torian (D) v Maria Martin (R)

  • Torian won decisively over Martin, 70.94% to 29.01%.

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