A look at how key primaries in Virginia played out

Welcome to the Thursday, June 22, Brew. 

Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. A look at how key primaries in Virginia played out
  2. Listen to our interview with Election Assistance Commissioner Don Palmer in the latest episode of On the Ballot
  3. Number of U.S. Senators not running for re-election tied with 2022 cycle; number of House members not running below 2022, but above 2020 and 2018

A look at results from key Virginia primaries

On June 20, Virginia held a decade-high 47 state legislative primaries, up 34% from 2019, the last time both the 40-member Senate and the 100-member House were up for election.

We’re going to have a detailed look at the number of incumbents defeated in those primaries tomorrow and how that compares to previous years. Based on preliminary results, at least six incumbents lost, representing 6% of the 97 incumbents who ran for re-election and 35% of the incumbents who faced contested primaries.

With two incumbents still in uncalled primaries as of June 21, this is already the largest number and percentage of incumbents defeated in Virginia’s primaries in more than a decade.

Leading up to the primary, we identified 14 battlegrounds in Virginia, eight in the Senate and six in the House.

Here are the results from a few of the races we were watching closely:

  • In the open House District 7, Fairfax County School Board member Karen Keys-Gamarra (D) won a four-way primary with 37% of the vote. All four candidates in this race completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, with Keys-Gamarra listing public education, healthcare access, and public safety as the three key messages of her campaign.
  • In Senate District 11, incumbent Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) defeated Del. Sally Hudson (D), 51% to 49%. Summarizing an April debate, Charlottesville Tomorrow’s Eileen Goode wrote that, while both candidates’ platforms overlapped, the two “clashed, sometimes sharply, on their legislative track records and on how they want to see the General Assembly evolve.”
  • In Senate District 13, former Del. Laschrecse Aird (D) defeated incumbent Sen. Joseph Morrissey (D), 68% to 32%. This primary centered partly on abortion, with Morrissey having previously supported abortion restrictions. The Richmond Times-Dispatch’s Michael Martz wrote that Aird sought “to ride a rising tide of national concern over the future of abortion rights.”
  • In Senate District 12, former Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R) won a three-way race, defeating District 11 incumbent Sen. Amanda Chase (R), 40% to 38%. The Senate censured Chase in 2021 for her comments on the breach of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Regarding the primary, The Washington Post’s Laura Vozzella wrote, “Chase’s challengers … are trying to convince voters … that they’d cut the same staunchly conservative figure in the Capitol … without the drama.”
  • In the open Senate District 17, Del. Emily Brewer (R) defeated former NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler (R), 58% to 42%. Brewer was one of 10 Senate candidates running in contested primaries who received an endorsement from Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) and advanced to the general election. Youngkin won the district by a margin of 5.2 percentage points in 2021, but President Joe Biden also won the district by a margin of 7.0 percentage points in 2020, making the general election “one of a handful of so-called ‘purple’ … districts that will determine whether the Senate remains in Democratic control or flips Republican,” according to The Smithfield Times’ publisher Steve Stewart. 

There were also two incumbent v. incumbent primaries where at least one incumbent was guaranteed to lose. 

In Senate District 18, Sen. Louise Lucas (D) defeated Sen. Lionell Spruill (D), 53% to 47%. In House District 47, Del. Wren Williams (R) defeated Del. Marie March (R), 68% to 33%.

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Listen to our interview with Elections Assistance Commissioner Don Palmer in the latest episode of On the Ballot

In this week’s episode of On the Ballot, Editor-in-Chief Geoff Pallay interviews Don Palmer, one of four commissioners serving on the United States Election Assistance Commission, or EAC for short. 

The EAC is a bipartisan body charged with developing policies and guidelines to assist state election administrators. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 established the commission as a response to some of the issues surrounding the 2000 presidential election. 

The EAC’s responsibilities include creating and maintaining federal voting system standards, acting as a national clearinghouse for all election-related information, and maintaining the national mail registration form. It plays an important role in helping states across the country administer elections, but hey, what better way to hear about some of their work than straight from the source?  

In this episode, Palmer goes over what the EAC does, its origins, and the role it has in supporting election administrators around the country. He also outlines why he believes confidence in elections has been decreasing, what the EAC is doing to counter this, and some of the challenges the commission faces in fulfilling its mission of ensuring safe and accessible elections.  

If you’re interested in learning more, tune in! Episodes of On the Ballot come out Thursday afternoons, so if you’re reading this on the morning of June 22, you’ve still got time to subscribe to On the Ballot on your favorite podcast app before this week’s episode comes out!

Don’t miss out on the latest content! Click below to listen to older episodes and find links to where you can subscribe.     

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Number of U.S. Senators not running for re-election tied with 2022; number of House members not running below 2022, but above 2020 and 2018

Sixteen members of Congress—Senators and 11 Representatives—have announced they will not seek re-election in 2024.

This includes 12 Democrats—four in the Senate and eight in the House—as well as four Republicans—U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.) and three House members.

The same number of U.S. Senators (5) had announced they were not running for re-election at this point in the 2022 election cycle. Four had announced at this point in the 2020 cycle, and none had announced at this point in the 2018 cycle.

The 11 U.S. House members who have announced they are not running for re-election in 2024 are three fewer than the 14 members who had announced at this point in the 2022 election cycle. Retirements in this election cycle currently exceed those at the same point in the 2020 (seven) and 2018 (nine) election cycles.

Of the Senators not running for re-election, Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Tom Carper (D-Del.)—all Democrats—are retiring from public office. Braun is running for governor of Indiana.

Ten of the 11 U.S. House members not running for re-election are running for the U.S. Senate, including seven running for the open seats in California, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, and Indiana, specifically:

  • Reps. Barbara Lee (D), Katie Porter (D), and Adam Schiff (D) are running to replace Feinstein;
  • Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D) is running to replace Carper;
  • Rep. David Trone (D)  is running to replace Cardin;
  • Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D) is running to replace Stabenow; and,
  • Rep. Jim Banks (R) is running to replace Braun.

And three other House members are challenging incumbent senators:

  • Rep. Alex Mooney (R) is running against Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in West Virginia, though Manchin has not yet announced whether he will seek re-election;
  • Rep. Rubén Gallego (D) is running against Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) in Arizona; and,
  • Rep. Colin Allred (D) is running against Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in Texas.

Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Ind.) is the only House incumbent to announce retirement from public office.

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