Having their say

Shannon Kelly/The News VirginianFILE PHOTO

This story was updated on 11/6 with additional information from other Central Virginia races.

Despite significant wins from Democrats across the Commonwealth, Central Virginia’s House of Delegate districts remained Republican following Tuesday’s election.

Three solidly red districts — the 25th, 58th and 59th — remained in Republican control despite efforts from rural Democratic challengers who formed a group called Rural Groundgame to share resources and more effectively campaign. The candidates hoped to stoplight rural issues and “better represent” voters they claim were being underrepresented.

Elizabeth Alcorn, the Democratic candidate for the 58th district, lost to incumbent Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, who had received 62% of the votes as of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to preliminary tallies by the state Department of Elections.

Alcorn said she was disappointed by the results and wished the Democratic Party of Virginia had done more to support rural candidates.

“If state Democrats are serious about changing districts and winning elections they need to put their money where their mouths are and recruit and support candidates in rural districts,” she said Tuesday night at a Democratic election party at Three Notch’d Brewery in Charlottesville.

Now that the election is over, she said she plans to focus her efforts on combating climate change, which she sees as the most pressing issue facing the Commonwealth.

In a phone interview with the Progress, Bell said he was impressed to see such a large turnout of voters in an off-year election and was excited to get back to work in the state legislature.

Bell has served in the House of Delegates since 2002.

Also present at Three Notch’d was 59th District Democratic candidate Tim Hickey, who appears to have lost to incumbent Del. Matt Fariss, R-Campbell, by about 27 points.

Despite a disappointing turnout, Hickey said he was proud of his campaign and the work he and his team had put into it.

“We ran an issues based campaign and we helped spotlight some problems that rural voters are not seeing addressed,” he said.

Hickey, who was also a founding member of Rural Groundgame, said he hoped the group would continue to operate in future elections. While he wishes he had more resources while campaigning, Hickey said he understood why the state Democratic party invested resources in elections elsewhere in the state.

Fariss could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Fellow Rural Groundgame founder and Democrat, Jennifer Kitchen, also lost to a Republican Tuesday in Virginia’s 25th House of Delegates district.

Chris Runion won that district, securing about 58% of the votes cast as compared to Kitchen’s nearly 40%.

Runion, a small-business owner and farmer, campaigned on health care, education and agriculture. He highlighted his experience on such boards as the Rockingham County Planning Commission.

He will replace Del. Steve Landes, R-Weyers Cave, who did not seek re-election. Instead, the long-serving delegate ran for the office of Augusta County clerk of court, which he won after securing 49% of the votes cast, according to preliminary tallies.

Fellow 25th District candidate Janice Allen, an independent from Rockingham County who previously has mounted two unsuccessful congressional challenges, received less than two percent of the votes cast.

The 25th District covers the Crozet and Ivy areas of Albemarle County, plus portions of Augusta and Rockingham counties.

Despite significant setbacks, incumbent and write-in candidate Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, appears to have won reelection to the 30th District.

The district had only one candidate, Democrat Ann Ridgeway, on the ballot, after Freitas neglected to turn in required paperwork for re-election on time.

But as of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, the Virginia Department of Elections showed around 57 percent of voters choosing a write-in candidate. Ridgeway secured 42 percent of the votes cast, according to preliminary tallies.

Following his inability to qualify for the ballot Freitas, who has served in the House of Delegates since 2016, announced his write-in campaign in August and later received a $500,000 donation from Illinois-based shipping supplies magnate and conservative superdonor Richard Uihlein.

In a Facebook post Tuesday night, Freitas said his campaign would likely declare victory and thanked his supporters for helping him win what he described as the “largest write-in campaign in Virginia history.”

The 30th District covers Orange and Madison counties and part of Culpeper County.

Republican John Avol defeated Democrat Jennifer Lewis, securing around 57% of the votes, according to numbers available from the Virginia Department of Elections Tuesday night.

Avoli, who is running as a Republican, is a former mayor of Staunton with four-plus decades of service as an educator.

Lewis, a Democrat, works with adults at mental health hospitals who are transitioning from inpatient care back into the community. Last year, she unsuccessfully ran against now-Rep. Ben Cline, R-6th, for a congressional seat.

Avoli will replace Del. Richard P. “Dickie” Bell, who is not running for re-election.

The district covers Waynesboro, Staunton and parts of Nelson County.

Republican John McGuire, R-Glen Allen, won a second term against Democrat Juanita Jo Matkins.

McGuire is a former Navy Seal and business owner, received nearly 60% of the votes cast as of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday night. Matkins, a former Louisa County Public Schools teacher and professor at the College of William & Mary, received around 40 percent.

The 56th District covers Louisa County and portions of Goochland, Henrico, and Spotsylvania counties.

Lee Ware, R-Powhatan, won re-election against Democrat Mike Asip.

Ware, who received approximately 66% of the votes cast, has held the seat since 1998.

Asip, a former special-education teacher, received about 33% of the votes cast.

He ran a platform similar to many Democrats running in rural areas, including raising teacher salaries, expanding rural broadband access and investing in renewable energy.

The 65th District covers Powhatan County and parts of Fluvanna, Chesterfield Goochland counties.

Unopposed Democrat Sally Hudson, a University of Virginia assistant professor, secured the 57th District seat Tuesday night, earning around 96% of the votes. She will replace longtime Del. David J. Toscano, D-Charlottesville, who did not seek another term.

Hudson secured the Democratic nomination in June, trouncing outgoing Charlottesville City Councilor Kathy Galvin in a district that encompasses all of Charlottesville and a portion of Albemarle County.

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