With the statewide primary season fast approaching, members of Virginia’s House of Delegates are making final determinations about whether to run — including several announcements this week.
Eight House members won’t be running again, seven Republicans and one Democrat. Of those seven open Republican seats, Hillary Clinton won four of those districts — an indication that they might be pickup opportunities for Democrats. Quentin Kidd at Christopher Newport University says those four open Republican seats are part of a larger set of races Democrats are intensely focused on.
“There are 17 of them that they are looking at, and these are 17 districts where Hillary Clinton won them big time last year. But they’re held currently by Republican members of the House of Delegates.”
Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says growing discontent on the left is working in Democrats’ favor. He says the party has done a good job of harnessing that anger and channeling it into recruiting candidates to be on the ballot this year.
“I think what you really see in 2017 is a very aggressive effort by Democrats to try to run top-tier candidates in a lot of races where Republicans have not had to face major league opposition in previous elections.”
Even if Democrats prevail in those races they’d only cut into, not overtake, the Republican majority. The question is how would a diminished Republican majority work alongside a growing Democratic minority?