In several closely watched Virginia House of Delegates races, Democrats held on to their seats in reliably blue districts in Northern Virginia — but it appeared Republicans were on track to regain majority of the Virginia House.
There were still a handful of uncalled races Wednesday afternoon. But, so far, Republicans have picked up four House seats, including flipping the 28th District in Stafford County and Fredericksburg City, where Democratic incumbent Joshua Cole was defeated by Republican challenger Tara Durant, the AP projected Wednesday.
Republicans also lead in three other races that had been in Democratic control, according to unofficial results from the Virginia Department of Elections.
Overall, Republicans need to flip six seats to win an outright majority in the House.
Democrats went into Election Day defending a 55-45 majority.
While Democratic incumbents in Northern Virginia cruised to reelection early, some races in competitive districts in Loudoun and Prince William counties were nail-biters late into the night.
It’s an election that some political watchers see as a referendum on the sweeping progressive reforms Democrats pushed through the General Assembly over the past two years, including legalizing marijuana, tightening gun safety laws and repealing the death penalty, and others see as providing an early glimpse into the mood of the U.S. electorate early into President Joe Biden’s term.
Keeping an eye on closely watched races
Here’s a look at some of the closely watched House races in the broader WTOP listening area.
In the 28th District, which includes Stafford County and Fredericksburg City and was seen as a prized GOP pickup, Democrat Joshua Cole fell behind in his efforts to hold off a challenge from Republican candidate Tara Durant.
Durant topped Cole 49% to 51% with 25 of 27 precincts reporting, and the AP called the race for Durant, Wednesday morning.
Cole won the seat in 2019 with just under 52% of the vote — his second try after losing to Republican Bob Thomas by just 73 votes in 2017.
GOP candidate Durant is an elementary school teacher, and is active in Fredericksburg civic organizations.
It was another high-spending race. Durant raised nearly $1 million in her campaign and Cole had raised $1.7 million.
The 10th District, which includes Loudoun, Frederick and Clarke counties, was also one of the most closely watched potential “swing districts” that could determine whether Republicans retake the House.
In early returns Tuesday, Democratic two-term incumbent Wendy Gooditis was locked in a tight race with Republican challenger Nick Clemente.
But with 34 of 37 precincts reporting, Gooditis led Clemente by about 600 votes, appearing to fend off Clemente just barely — 50.7% to 49.2%.
The AP has not called the race yet, but Gooditis took to Twitter shortly after 10 p.m. to claim victory, which if it holds, closes off one potential path for Republicans to flip the House.
I am deeply proud and humbled to have been reelected to represent the people of HD10.
Thank you to everyone who supported my campaign – I could not have done this without you.
I will continue to advocate for the health and safety of Virginia’s children and families in Richmond.
— Wendy Gooditis (@WendyGooditisVA) November 3, 2021
Gooditis first won the seat in 2017 and was reelected in 2019 with 52% of the vote.
Clemente, a first-time candidate, is an official with the Virginia chapter of the Associated Builders and Contractors.
The race was one of the highest-spending for a House seat, including near-record fundraising hauls in the final stretch of the race.
Gooditis had raised $2.8 million in her reelection, according to fundraising data on VPAP, while Clemente has raised $1.5 million.
In the 2nd District, which includes parts of Prince William and Stafford counties, Democratic incumbent Candi King was projected to hold on to her seat, according to the Associated Press.
King, who has only held the seat since winning a special election in January, appeared to handily beat back a challenge from Republican Gina Ciarcia, a history teacher.
With 25 of 27 precincts reporting, according to the Virginia Department of Elections, King led Ciarcia 59% to 41%.
King also survived a Democratic primary challenge in June.
In the 13th District, which includes Prince William County and Manassas Park City, incumbent Democratic Del. Danica Roem was projected to win a third term, according to the AP.
With 22 of 24 precincts reporting, Roem led GOP challenger Christopher Stone 55% to 45%
Roem, first elected in the 2017 Democratic “Blue Wave,” made transportation a key focus of her tenure in the General Assembly. She was reelected in 2019 with just under 56% of the vote.
In the 31st District, which includes Prince William and Fauquier counties, Democratic incumbent Elizabeth Guzman fended off a challenge from GOP candidate Ben Baldwin, a Marine Corps veteran and financial adviser, according to the AP.
With 28 of 30 precincts reporting, according to the Virginia Department of Elections, Guzman held a wide lead over Baldwin — 54% to 46%.
Guzman, who immigrated to Virginia from Peru, was first elected to represent the 31st District in the House of Delegates in 2017.
The 50th District, which includes Prince William County and Manassas City, is one of the few open seats on the ballot in Northern Virginia.
Democrat Michelle Maldonado, a former attorney and small-business owner, knocked off Lee Carter in the June Democratic primary.
In the general election, Maldonado fought off a competitive race against Republican Steve Pleickhardt, a dentist, to win the open seat, the AP projects.
With 19 precincts of 21 reporting, Maldonado leads Pleickhardt 55% to 45%, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
Heading into Election Day, Maldonado had far outraised Pleickhardt — nearly $600,000 to his $26,000.
In the 51st District, which is also in Prince William County, Democratic newcomer Briana Sewell was the projected victor, according to the AP.
She was leading GOP candidate Tim Cox 55% to 45% — with 23 of 24 precincts reporting, according to the Virginia Department of Elections.
Sewell is the chief of staff to Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Wheeler.
Tim Cox, the Republican in the race, is a U.S. Navy veteran and contractor.
Sewell took the open seat being vacated by Democratic Del. Hala Ayala made an unsuccessful bid for lieutenant governor.
Other GOP pickups around the state
The AP projected Republican Otto Wachsmann defeated Del. Roslyn Tyler in Southampton in the 75th District. Tyler was one of two remaining Democrats who represented mostly rural areas.
The other in the southside is Del. Chris Hurst. Republican Jason Ballard defeated the two-term Hurst in the 12th District, the AP projected.
The AP also projected Republican Timothy Anderson defeated Democratic incumbent Nancy Guy in the 83rd District, in Virginia Beach and Norfolk.
Many Northern Va. incumbents cruise to reelection
In heavily Democratic Fairfax County, where a reported glitch initially slowed the reporting of some early votes right as polls closed, the Associated Press eventually called a slew of races for longstanding Democratic incumbents.
- In the 34th District, which also includes parts of Loudoun County, Democratic incumbent Kathleen Murphy defeated GOP challenger Gary Pan to win reelection. Murphy was first elected in a 2015 special election to fill the seat once held by Republican Barbara Comstock.
- In the 35th District, the AP called the race for Democratic incumbent Mark Keam, who was first elected to the seat in 2009. Keam defeated GOP challenger Kevin McGrath.
- In the 36th District, the AP called the race for longtime Democratic officeholder, Ken Plum, who’s held the seat since the early 1980s and is the currently long-serving House member.
- In the 37th District, which includes Fairfax City, too, the AP project David Bulova would hold on to his seat against GOP challenger Kenny Meteiver. Bulova was first elected in 2005.
- In the 38th District, Democrat Kaye Kory was projected to hold on to her seat against a GOP challenge from Tom Pafford. Kory was first elected in 2009.
- In the 39th District, the AP projected a win for Vivian Watts, who served two terms in the 1980s and has held the seat since returning in the late 1990s. She defeated Republican challenger Maureen Brody.
- In the 40th District, in Fairfax County, Democrat Dan Helmer was projected by the AP to beat back a challenge from Republican Harold Pyon, two years after Helmer won the seat by toppling a longtime Republican delegate.
- In the 41st District, House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn, was projected to win reelection, according to the AP. Filler-Corn was first elected to the seat in a 2010 special election.
- In the 43rd District, incumbent Mark Sickles, who has held the seat since 2004, was projected the winner of his race against Republican Brent Hammond.
- In the 44th District, Democrat Paul Krizek was projected to win reelection against a Republican challenge from Richard Hayden.
- In the 48th District, which also includes part of Arlington, the Democratic incumbent Rip Sullivan, was projected the winner by the AP. Sulivan first won the seat in a 2014 special election.
- In the 53rd District, which also includes Fall Church City, Democratic incumbent Marcus Simon was projected to win reelection against GOP challenger Sarah White.
In Loudoun County, in the 32nd District, the AP projected David Reid, who was first elected in 2017, would fend off a challenged from Republican Scott Pio and Independent Nicholas Allegro.
In the 45th District, which includes Alexandria as well as Arlington and Fairfax counties, voters are sending a new face to Richmond.
Democratic candidate Elizabeth Bennett-Parker, Alexandria’s vice mayor, who unseated Democratic incumbent Del. Mark Levine in the June primary, was projected the winner of her race, defeating Republican candidate J.D. Maddox, according to the AP.
In the 47th District, in Arlington County, the AP also called the race for Democratic incumbent Patrick Hope, who first won his seat in 2009.
In the 52nd District, in Prince William County, Democratic incumbent Luke Torian was projected by the AP to win reelection against Republican challenger Maria Martin.
In terms of GOP officeholders in the Northern Virginia suburbs, Republican incumbent Dave LaRock beat back a Democratic challenger in the 33rd District, where the AP projected he defeated Paul Siker. LaRock has held the seat since being elected in 2013 and came under fire this year for attending the “Stop the Steal” rally on Jan. 6 that preceded the storming of the U.S. Capitol.
And in the 18th District, which includes parts of Fauquier, Warren, Culpeper and Rappahannock counties, the AP called the race for Michael Webert, the incumbent Republican, who was first elected in 2011.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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