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Republicans Welcome Large Number of Democrat Challengers in House of Delegates Races


Democrats are having a banner year fielding candidates in House of Delegates races, including many challenges to incumbent Republicans in deeply red parts parts of Virginia. Leaders in the GOP say bring it on. 

Republicans are thrilled that Democrats are running so many candidates, and that’s not just a reaction to the unprecedented level of enthusiasm among liberals this year.

State Republican party chairman John Whitbeck says all those Democrats running in what he considers safe Republican districts will motivate more of his voters to get out to the polls. He says that will give his statewide candidates a boost, potentially helping Republicans take the Executive Mansion. 

“I know people think it’s counterintuitive," Whitbeck admitted, "but I’ve been saying this for years that look I want a Democrat running in every strong Republican district because it helps us.”

That might not necessarily work, says Stephen Farnsworth, a professor at the University of Mary Washington. He says the number of competitive House races is likely to be larger this year because it’s been so long since they were gerrymandered.

"As districts change, they are seen as moving in the direction of perhaps more competitive, depending on where we are talking about the district,” Farnsworth said.

Candidates for some House districts have already been selected in firehouse caucuses. Most will be chosen in a statewide primary in June 13th.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from theVirginia Education Association.

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