Analysts: Scandals Energize Republicans at Start of 2019 Campaign

Feb 28, 2019

The end of the General Assembly session last weekend means the beginning of the campaign season.

Members of the General Assembly are prohibited from raising money when they are in Richmond making laws. But now that the legislative session is over, that prohibition has been lifted. Lawmakers are hitting the campaign trail in their home districts to fight off primary challengers and put together a war chest for this fall’s general election.

Quentin Kidd, a political analyst at Christopher Newport University, says the blackface and sexual assault scandals have reshuffled the deck. “Republicans are feeling energized right now. They’re feeling energized because of the scandals. Even if the odds of them keeping the House are slim, they might be able to retain control of the Senate and reduce the majority that Democrats could pick up in the House,” Kidd predicts.

Political analyst Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says urban areas will remain reliably blue and rural areas will remain reliably red. “So expect the more suburban districts of Hampton Roads of greater Richmond and of Northern Virginia to be the most contested races in territory the state," Farnsworth says.  "And since suburban areas tend to be more affluent, they’ll be a lot of donors from those areas as well.”

The most competitive seats are likely to be the ones where Senator Tim Kaine had the highest margin of victory against Corey Stewart last November.  Those would be  Senator Glen Sturtevant’s seat in the suburbs of Richmond and Delegate David Yancey’s seat in the suburbs of Newport News. They're both Republicans.

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