The Bulletin

Election season isn’t over for all Virginians

By: - November 12, 2018 5:34 pm

The Capitol at dusk. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Midterms are over for Virginia voters, but there will be at least one more election before the end of the year for some.

With Republican Del. Ben Cline’s win in the 6th Congressional District and state Sen. Jennifer Wexton’s win in the 10th, there are openings in the General Assembly, which reconvenes Jan. 9.

Speaker of the House Kirk Cox, R-Colonial Heights, has already set a date for an election to fill the House District 24 seat that Cline has held since 2002.

House Republicans are barely hanging on to a majority, with 50 Republicans and 49 Democrats. It’s unlikely, though, that the special election will alter that balance. Sixty-five percent of voters in the 24th District, which encompasses Rockbridge, Amherst, Augusta and Bath counties and the cities of Lexington and Buena Vista, picked Ed Gillespie in the gubernatorial race and 66 percent voted for President Donald Trump, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

On Dec. 18, Cline will officially resign from the House seat and voters will pick a new representative.

“While we have often scheduled special elections for the first week of January, this year’s calendar and Delegate Cline’s offer to step down early affords us the opportunity to have a special election sooner,” Cox said in a statement. “This is (a) very efficient and practical timeline.”

It will give the new representative plenty of time prepare for the General Assembly, he wrote.

Already, four Republicans have formally announced they plan to run to replace Cline, said Jennifer Brown, chairwoman of the 6th District Republican Committee.

They are:

  • Jimmy Ayers, a current member of the Amherst County Board of Supervisors and retired sheriff.
  • Catie Austin-Brown, a small business owner in Rockbridge County and the daughter of current Del. Terry Austin, who represents the 19th House District.
  • Ronnie Campbell, a retired Virginia state trooper and member of the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors.
  • Jay Lewis, a small business owner and member of the Rockbridge County Board of Supervisors.
The 6th District Democratic Committee didn’t return a message asking about potential candidates for the seat.
Both parties have until Nov. 19 to officially pick a nominee.
Things are moving more slowly on the Senate side, with no special election date set yet. Senate President Pro Tempore Steve Newman, R-Forest, has to set the date.
There hasn’t been a date set to replace Wexton, who has been a state senator for Northern Virginia’s 33rd District since 2014 when she won a special election to fill current Attorney General Mark Herring’s seat.
So far, three Democrats — Del. Jennifer Boysko of the 86th House District, activist Charlotte McConnell and consultant Sharafat Hussain — have announced they want to fill Wexton’s seat, according to LoudounNow.
If Boysko, who has been endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam and Herring, wins the senate seat, it would trigger an additional special election in the 86th House District.
Republicans in the district haven’t announced a caucus or potential nominees.

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Mechelle Hankerson
Mechelle Hankerson

Mechelle, born and raised in Virginia Beach, is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University with a degree in mass communications and a concentration in print journalism. She covered the General Assembly for the university’s Capital News Service and was among 12 student journalists in swing states selected by the Washington Post to cover the 2012 presidential election. For the past five years, she has covered local government, crime, housing, infrastructure and other issues at the Raleigh News & Observer and The Virginian-Pilot, where she most recently covered the state’s biggest city, Virginia Beach. Mechelle was with the Virginia Mercury until January 3rd, 2019.