By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: November 17, 2019 | 1:45 p.m.
Democrats control House, State Senate for first time in over two decades
DINWIDDIE – While last week’s general election saw the vast majority of local elected officials and constitutional officers face challengers, save the race for county sheriff, which incumbent D.T. Adams was victorious over opponent Darryl Hayes, such wasn’t the case in the state’s General Assembly races as republicans and democrats jockeyed for control of both the House of Delegates and State Senate.
All seats in both the House and Senate were on the ballot during this month’s election, which led to a slew of contests across the Commonwealth, most notably in areas where some House district lines had been redrawn after being found to be the result of gerrymandering. Those new lines saw opportunities for both Republicans and Democrats to try and pick up seats as control of both chambers was on the line and it would be the democrats capitalizing as the party attained full control of the state legislature for the first time in over two decades following a number of gains for Democrats in key races in Central and Northern Virginia.
Closer to Southside Virginia, last week’s election was the first for the newly drawn 63rd House District, which shifted significantly following the lines’ redraw, with most of Prince George being excluded, while all of Petersburg and Dinwiddie, along with a southwestern chunk of Chesterfield County just south of Skinquarter were added. Despite the district’s redraw, Republicans did not field a candidate to compete for the district seat, resulting in incumbent Lashrecse Aird (D) facing off against an independent candidate in Larry Haake, III.
In Tuesday’s election, Aird went on to earn 55 percent of the nearly 23,000 votes cast across the 63rd District to Haake’s 44 percent, successfully earning another term at the district’s delegate, a position she has served in since 2016.
Looking deeper into the preliminary election returns, Haake found support in southwestern Chesterfield as he earned over 62 percent of the vote in the northern part of the district, while narrowly beating Aird in Dinwiddie, edging the delegate by 208 votes in the county. Aird resoundingly won in the City of Petersburg, with Aird capturing over 86 percent of the 6,700 votes cast in the city last week.
“Serving as the representative for the people of the 63rd District is one of the highest honors of my life to date,” she shared last week. “It is truly humbling to once again be elected to be their voice in the General Assembly.”
Opening up about the redistricting, Aird remarked, “the 63rd District has over 20,000 new constituents to whom I am committed to continuing to serve with the same passion, diligence and accessibility that I have striven for since my first day in the legislature.”
“Much like the Commonwealth of Virginia, our district is comprised of hard working Virginians from all walks of life – a true blend of urban, suburban and rural – all of whom are united in their desire for progress on important issues for their families: providing high quality education, improving our mental health support network and increasing access to affordable healthcare,” she continued.
“I will remain receptive and accessible to all perspectives while operating with openness and transparency. To the citizens of the 63rd district: this is your seat. I am simply humbled you’ve asked me to be your voice and I will fight tirelessly to ensure that it is heard,” the delegate closed.
On the State Senate side, the 15th and 16th District continues to include Dinwiddie County and the results of last week’s election saw the incumbent Frank Ruff, Jr. returning for another term and former lawmaker Joe Morrissey returning to the General Assembly for the first time in several years.
Ruff, who has served as the 15th Senate District’s representative since 2000, successfully held off a challenge from Democratic challenger Virginia Smith as the longtime senator earned just over 68 percent of the vote en route to another term in Richmond. According to preliminary election returns, Ruff was able to carry the majority of the vote in all jurisdictions within the district, including convincing victories in Halifax and Pittsylvania Counties, where he earned three-quarters of the vote in those communities.
In Dinwiddie specifically, Ruff earned 64 percent of the vote to Smith’s 35 percent. The challenge from Smith to Ruff and his 15th District seat was the first Ruff has faced since 2007 where he defeated Democrat Robert Wilkerson, earning nearly 60 percent of the 43,000 votes cast.
“Thank you all for taking time to vote and for your support,” Ruff said on his Facebook page last week. “It is my privilege to represent the people of Southside Virginia. I will continue to work hard for all the people. I take my responsibilities seriously and will do my best to honor the trust you have placed in me.”
In the neighboring 16th Senate District, following what many saw as an upset in longtime senator Rosalyn Dance’s defeat by Joe Morrissey in the June democratic primary, the former lawmaker would successfully campaign through northeastern Dinwiddie, western Prince George, all of Hopewell and Petersburg, and north toward South Richmond on his way to victory, beating independent Waylin Ross by earning just over 64 percent of the 45,700 ballots cast.
On the heels of his strong primary victory over Dance, his campaign found similar success in last week’s general election as Morrissey bested Ross in each locality the district covers, with both Richmond and Petersburg providing the largest vote percentages to Morrissey of 71 and 81 percent respectively.
Morrissey is known throughout the region following previous terms in the House of Delegates and State Senate campaigns, along with making headlines following a conviction for contributing to the delinquency of a minor after a relationship with a 17-year-old receptionist, whom he has since married, along with the attorney being disbarred twice. Even still, speaking with the Capital News Service, he vowed to continue fighting for the community.
“Since I was 13, I learned that you never give up, you never quit,” he remarked. “There’s always going to be trials and tribulations, but you get up and you move forward. That’s what I do all the time,” telling reporters he plans on introducing several pieces of legislation during the upcoming session to re-establish parole in Virginia (parole for felons convicted and given a life sentence was abolished in 1995), a bill to double the number of Virginia’s drug courts, and a bill to establish a mental health court in the state.
Overall, following a number of key races, Virginia Democrats saw last week’s election results as a win for their party, calling their attainment of control of both chambers of the General Assembly “a landmark victory.”
“Virginia Democrats have once again made history. Starting this January, for the first time in decades, Democrats will control the House, Senate, and the Governor’s Office,” Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker said in a statement. “This landmark victory is a tribute to our candidates, their commitment to the issues that matter, and the work of a strong Democratic Party of Virginia and our partners. And most importantly, we owe this victory to the people of Virginia, who with their votes spoke loudly and clearly in placing control of the House and Senate into Democratic hands. Virginia voters made it clear that the time is now for common-sense gun violence prevention, a raise in the minimum wage, the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and all the progressive reforms we campaigned so hard on this year.”
Copyright 2019 by Womack Publishing
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