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NDP House of Delegates Rankings Update

by: Kenton Ngo

Sat Apr 18, 2009 at 01:39:30 AM EDT

The first finance reports are out, so this rankings update is heavy on money. I believe that this, as of now, is a comprehensive list of all races currently being contested by a major party. As usual, they are ranked top to bottom from most likely to switch parties to least. Money isn't everything. It's nice to have, of course, but campaigns are not won on money alone.

These rankings are fluid. Candidates who have just filed this week are disadvantaged against candidates who have been raising money all quarter. That is not to say they will never be competitive--this is merely a snapshot in time. With candidate fields finally settling and the first reports out, NDP rankings move away from what might be and focus on what is.

Incumbency is a factor. An open seat with a slight tilt away from a party is often easier on them than taking out an incumbent that represents their turf.

To leave feedback, leave a comment, or email us at [email protected].

First Tier - Leans & Toss Ups
Rank Dist. Incumbent Challenger
1 52 Amy Frederick (R)
Rafael Lopez (R)
Mike Hodge (D)
Luke Torian (D)
(OPEN SEAT) In a district that Obama won in a 26-point romp, personal popularity is the only hope for any Republican--and the Frederick name has taken a beating. There are no phrases vulgar enough in the English language to describe the endless Jeff Frederick saga. Deposed in a coup by the Republican Party he once ruled, he promised that he would take to the people and regain power at the Republican Convention at the end of the month. Meanwhile, his wife Amy has less than $10,000 on hand in her bid (it's worth noting that Jeff has about $23,000 left in his campaign committee). On the Democratic side, Mike Hodge reports not raising any money at all last quarter. Luke Torian's report is still unavailable.
2 42 Dave Albo* (R) Greg Werkheiser (D)
Greg Werkheiser reigns as the best-funded Democratic challenger in this year's House races, pulling in $110,113 in the first quarter of 2009, bringing him neck and neck with Albo in cash on hand ($68,327 to Albo's $73,276). That's not news--four years ago in April 2005, he had over $80,000 in the bank, over twice what Albo had. Albo might be better prepared now than he was then, but his district hasn't gotten any easier for him. (Albo's website is still frighteningly terrible.)
3 86 Tom Rust* (R) Stevens Miller (D)
Now that Stevens Miller actually lives in the 86th, he has around $23,000 in his bank account, one-third of Rust's total. I'm still putting Rust in a vulnerable position because the 86th is nothing but blue. Miller will benefit from a larger number of party-line voters that might come out with a gubernatorial campaign at the top of the ballot, instead of a State Senate campaign. Miller doesn't need to outraise Rust, he just needs to stay competitive--$23,000 isn't all that competitive.
4 34 Margi Vanderhye* (D) Barbara Comstock (R)
Comstock draws on her wingnut roots to post over $117,000 on hand, twice as much as Vanderhye. Most of the time, campaign mailers have to stretch to paint a delegate candidate in an extremist light. Comstock has shrieking partisan written all over her. Interestingly, she did a stint as a federal lobbyist for the RIAA.  Perhaps Vanderhye should adopt some indie-pop anthem as a campaign song.
5 50 Jackson Miller* (R) Jeanette Rishell (D)
You might've missed Herman Melville's less-known sequel to Moby Dick, the story of Jeannette Rishell chasing down a great white whale by the name of Jackson Miller. Despite losing twice against Miller, Rishell starts this race with $88,365 in the bank after raising just a hair above $100,000. Miller reports $32,805 in the bank, roughly the same as his total two years ago, when he and Rishell were running even in fundraising after the first quarter. Rishell blasting out of the gate with early fundraising changes the dynamic of this race to inch it into the top tier.
6 23 Shannon Valentine* (D) Scott Garrett(R)
Jeff Hegelson (R)
Valentine is sitting on about $100,000, and will continue to raise cash while her two Republican opponents duke it out until June.
7 83 Joe Bouchard* (D) Chris Stolle (R)
Chris Stolle might've lost to Bouchard by less than a percentage point last time around, but Stolle the Younger faces a new twist. His brother, State Senator Ken Stolle, is running for Sheriff, and will be too busy to funnel money from his account to his brother's. With Stolle the Elder tied up, Bouchard can breathe a little easier.

Full rankings after the flip.

Kenton Ngo :: NDP House of Delegates Rankings Update
Second Tier - Likely Holds
8 60 James Edmunds II (R) Dave Guill (D)
(OPEN SEAT) Charlotte County Supervisor Dave Guill faces James Edmunds for the seat vacated by Del. Clarke Hogan. The 60th has a very slight Republican tilt, though McCain carried it by less than a point. Democrats were going to have a primary when former delegate Ted Bennett dropped out. Depends on fundraising--Hogan's exit happened so late in session that we don't have any data.
9 13 Bob Marshall* (R) John Bell (D)
Bell managed to raise over $90,000, leaving him with $59,115 on hand. Marshall starts with $44,264. Bell hails from the Democratic-tilting Loudoun County portion of the district, Marshall from the Republican-tilting Prince William County portion. These two disjointed sections of Northern Virginia suburbia fought each other to a standstill in 2008, resulting in McCain carrying the 13th--excluding absentee ballots--by a tenth of a point. While it is impossible to accurately portion out absentee ballots to house districts because both localities combine absentees on a county level, it's more than likely that had absentees been counted at the precinct level, Obama would have won the 13th.
10 17 William Cleaveland  (R)
Chris Head (R)
Josh Johnson (R)
Melvin Williams (R)
Mike Wray (R)
Gwen Mason (D)
(OPEN SEAT) Democrats have united behind Roanoke City Councilwoman Gwen Mason, while Republicans fight a five-way primary to replace this open seat. Democrats remain cautiously hopeful about Mason's chances, but the 17th deftly avoids Democratic areas of Roanoke and has always displayed a reliably Republican tilt.
11 14 Danny Marshall* (R) Seward Anderson (D)
This one is mystifying because Seward Anderson doesn't yet have a website, and seems not to be aware he's running for office. He's got $747 on hand, and seems to have been taking checks for the entire quarter. Marshall covered his rear by voting for the unemployment stimulus money--a good idea, in hard-hit Danville. It's not like Marshall has a substantial war chest either.
12 73 John O'Bannon (R) Tom Shields (D)
O'Bannon's war chest of nearly $150,000 (aided by a $90,000 transfer from his leadership PAC) dwarfs that of Shields, who has has $23,305 to work with.
13 93 Phil Hamilton* (R) Robin Abbott (D)
Abbott stepped in late in the game after the unexpected departure of Chris Rey. Hamilton has nearly $150,000 on hand from his campaign account and his leadership PAC--Abbott has a lot of ground to make up and little time to do it. Regardless, Obama demolishing McCain by 23 points proves that the 93rd is full of Democrats--the trick is to get them out.
14 21 Bobby Matheison* (D) Ronald Villanueva (R)
Virginia Beach councilman Ronald Villanueva filed last week. He's off to a late start, and the district leans against him (Obama +7). However, already being in elected office gives him a leg up over other types of challengers.
15 51 Paul Nichols* (D) Richard Anderson (R)
Anderson is sitting on $44,298 on hand, over Nichols' $27,801. Obama carried the 51st by 18 points, however, preventing the 51st from rising too far up the rankings.
16 64 Bill Barlow* (D) Mike Holle (R)
Stan Clark (R)
Holle works for Dominion, which is trying to build a coal plant in Surry, which is included in the 64th District. I presume he's for it. Holle and Clark will face off at a May 9 mass meeting in Isle of Wight.
17 82 Glenn Oder* (R) Gary West (D)
West filed papers last week. Obama carried Oder's Newport News seat by 3 points. Oder has about $30,000 on hand. The 94th is 24% black, though both candidates are white.
18 35 Roy Baldwin (D)
John Carroll (D)
Mark Keam (D)
Esam Omeish (D)
James Hyland (R)
(OPEN SEAT) Even with Steve Shannon gone and an expensive four-way primary on the Democratic side, this is still a Democrat-favored seat. Obama +14.
19 67 Chuck Caputo* (D) James LeMunyon* (R)
LeMunyon's anemic fundraising report showing him with a net gain of $1,006 cash on hand is a big boost to Caputo. While Caputo has yet to post a double-digit re-election margin, Obama's 10-point victory puts any Republican challenger without a strong bank account in trouble.
20 32 David Poisson* (D) Tag Greason (R)
I'm going to remind you all that Tag Greason couldn't get school board petitions right.

Third Tier
21 40 Tim Hugo* (R) Sue Conrad (D)
Democrats finally found a challenger in Sue Conrad of Clifton. She's off to a late start against a popular delegate in what used to be a Republican stronghold. Thanks to rapid growth and Democratic gains in the northern part of the district, Obama carried it by five points. Hugo starts with a not entirely frightening $25,641 war chest. Of the three Republicans remaining in Fairfax, he is most likely to survive.
22 41 Dave Marsden* (D) Kerry Bolognese (R)
23 26 Matt Lohr* (R) Gene Hart (D)
Lohr represents the most Democrat-friendly district in the Valley, which isn't saying much. Harrisonburg Democrats might have a Hart (ha ha...), but they will need overwhelming turnout in Harrisonburg city proper to overcome this district's Republican tilt. Even with Barack Obama bringing out JMU students like he was handing out free pizza at the polls, he lost the 26th by 10 points.
24 56 Bill Janis* (R) James Towey (D)
25 25 Ben Cline* (R) Jeff Price (D)
26 24 Chris Saxman* (R) Erik Curren (D)
Saxman, sometimes considered a rising star in a party that is sorely lacking in them, represents one of the reddest districts in the state, delivering the 10th biggest margin for John McCain. Curren might have a shot inside Staunton city limits, but he will spend quite a bit of time in the Highland County woods hunting for Democrats.
27 99 Al Pollard* (D) Catherine Crabhill (R)
This one wil be more fun than its low ranking makes it out to be. On the front page of her website she pledges to uphold Virginia's "state soverignty" (Virginia tried that already, it didn't end so well), and she stands "against pornography in all of its insidious forms". She could make Bob Marshall blanch.
28 82 Bob Purkey* (R) Peter Schmidt (D)
Pat Edmonson's 24-hour candidacy gave this race a year's supply of hijinks.
29 44 Kris Amundson* (D) Jay McConville (R)
30 58 Rob Bell* (R) Cynthia Neff (D)
Bell has nearly a half million cash on hand. Lieutenant Governor campaigns are jealous.
31 24 Steve Landes* (R) Greg Marrow (D)
Jim Noel (D)
32 36 Ken Plum* (D) Mark Whited (R)
33 39 Vivian Watts* (D) Joseph Bury (R)
34 91 Tom Gear* (R)
Gordon Helsel (R)
Sam Eure (D)
Olaf Gebhart (D)
Poquoson mayor Gordon Helsel is primarying Del. Tom Gear. Meanwhile, two Democrats want to run, but it's Poquoson. Not even Mark Warner could win Poquoson.
35 53 Jim Scott* (D) Christopher Merola (R)
36 90 Algie Howell* (D) Jason Call (R)
37 46 Charniele Herring* (D) Sasha Gong (R)
38 11 Onzlee Ware * (D)
Martin Jeffrey (D)
Troy Bird (R)
This one is only interesting because Martin Jeffrey's campaign manager charged the Roanoke City Democratic Chair with assault after a spat over campaign filing documents.
39 74 Joe Morrissey* (D) Michael Gage (R)
LOL. Obama won the 74th by four to one. Besides, Morrissey is immune from being harmed by scandal--run him through , all scandal seems to do is feed him. He'd have to get hit by a truck to lose this race, and it is widely known that Joe Morrissey can stop a speeding truck with only his non-dominant fist.
40 90 Lacey Putney* (I) Lewis Medlin (D)
Lacey Putney was elected in 1961. Kennedy was president. He is both longest-serving member and chairman of Appropriations.

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Goog job!
Couple of quick points:
1. 83rd - Yes, Ken Stolle will be running for sheriff but unless his challenger raises some money, he's still going to be able to help little brother Chris.
2. 90th - Algie Howell has a primary challenger - Lionell Spruill Jr.
3. 91st - I hear that Olaf Gebhart didn't qualify for the ballot.

That State Sovereignty stuff is nothing
Catherine Crabill thinks that the federal government bombed OKC in 1995, not Timothy McVeigh. The GOP 99th district Chair defended her, and Crabill stands by her position. This is some scary sh*t.

Some interesting data points...
7th: Peggy Frank has now made clear her intentions to run against Dave Nutter again, with the formal announcement coming in the next few weeks. The 7th is a youth-dense district which encompasses one of the largest Virginia Tech precincts, as well as Radford University.

17th: Gwen has some great name identification relative to her opponents, and has deftly managed the local television stations to get even more face time as of late. My gut feeling is that the first round of polling will surprise a lot of people.

14th: Seward's running an old school campaign up to this point, which isn't necessarily a bad thing in Danville. If he can get some campaign hands on deck who are more familiar with incorporating technology to mobilize voters, his personal strength could put this race in contention.

93rd: Hamilton's district is one of the bluest of the blue still held by Republicans, and from everything I've heard Robin Abbott has a large donor base which will give her the ability to match Delegate Hamilton's war chest and then some. There's no reason this shouldn't be in the first tier.

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