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Stories about Virginia

Virginia Supreme Court approves new state legislative district maps

Virginia enacted new state legislative districts on Dec. 28, 2021, when the Virginia Supreme Court approved proposals drafted by two special masters the court had appointed. The maps will take effect for Virginia’s 2022 state legislative elections.

Democrat and Republican consultants submitted statewide map proposals for consideration to the Virginia Redistricting Commission on Sept. 18. After the commission missed its deadline for approving map proposals and the Virginia Supreme Court assumed authority over the process, the two special masters selected by the court released proposals for House and Senate districts on Dec. 8.

As of Jan. 3, 28 states have adopted new state legislative maps for both chambers, one state adopted a map for one chamber, and 21 states have not yet adopted state legislative maps. As of Jan. 3, 2012, 32 states had enacted legislative redistricting plans after the 2010 census.

Nationwide, states have completed legislative redistricting for 1,078 of 1,972 state Senate seats (54.7%) and 2,776 of 5,411 state House seats (51.3%).

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Virginia Supreme Court approves new congressional district map

Virginia enacted new congressional districts on Dec. 28, 2021, when the Virginia Supreme Court approved a proposal drafted by two special masters the court had appointed. Virginia was apportioned 11 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives after the 2020 census, the same number it received after the 2010 census. This map will take effect for Virginia’s 2022 congressional elections.

The Virginia Redistricting Commission released two statewide congressional map proposals on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15. After the commission missed its deadline for approving map proposals and the Virginia Supreme Court assumed authority over the process, the two special masters released proposals for congressional districts on Dec. 8.

Liz White, the director of OneVirginia2021, said, “They’re definitely the best maps we’ve seen in Virginia in a long time. It’s the first set of maps that haven’t been drawn at all by any member of the legislature, by any member of any political party.” OneVirginia2021 was formed in 2014 with “the common goal of reforming Virginia’s outdated and discriminatory redistricting laws.”

U.S. Rep. Ben Cline (R), whose district boundaries were redrawn to include new areas, said, “I look forward to the opportunity of introducing myself to the new voters added to VA-6 including the Counties of Frederick, Clarke, and Alleghany, and the Cities of Winchester, Covington, and Salem. However, I am disappointed I will no longer have the privilege of representing so many friends and neighbors in Amherst and Bedford Counties and the City of Lynchburg.”

As of Jan. 3, 24 states have adopted congressional district maps, two states have approved congressional district boundaries that have not yet taken effect, six states were apportioned one congressional district (so no congressional redistricting is required), and 18 states have not yet adopted congressional redistricting plans after the 2020 census. As of Jan. 3 in 2012, 31 states had enacted congressional redistricting plans.

Congressional redistricting has been completed for 266 of the 435 seats (60.0%) in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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Candidates nominated for Virginia House special election

Firehouse primaries took place on Dec. 21 to select candidates in the special election for District 89 of the Virginia House of Delegates. Jackie Glass was selected as the Democratic nominee, and Giovanni Dolmo was nominated by Republicans. Glass and Dolmo are facing off in the special election on Jan. 11. The winner will serve until January 2024.

The special election was called after Jerrauld Jones (D) announced his resignation from the seat on Dec. 16. Jones’ resignation will take effect by the end of 2021. He has represented District 89 since 2018 and was last re-elected in November with 79.9% of the vote.

Elections were held for all 100 seats of the Virginia House in November. Republicans won a 52-48 majority, flipping the chamber from a 55-seat Democratic majority. Virginia will have a divided government after Governor-elect Glenn Youngkin (R) and newly elected members of the state House begin their terms in January. The state Senate is controlled by a 21-19 Democratic majority.

As of December, 18 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2022 in 12 states. Between 2011 and 2021, an average of 74 special elections took place each year. Virginia held 35 state legislative special elections from 2011 to 2021.

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Cordoza declared winner in Virginia House recount, confirming 52-48 Republican majority

On Dec. 8, 2021, a three-judge circuit court panel ruled Aijalon Cordoza (R) the winner of the election in Virginia House of Delegates District 91. The decision confirmed that Republicans won a 52-48 majority in the chamber. Officials in District 85, the only other district where a candidate requested a recount, confirmed on Dec. 3 that Karen Greenhalgh’s (R) defeated Alex Askew (D).

Although certified results released on November 15 showed Republicans winning 52 races and Democrats winning 48, the winning candidates’ margin of victory in District 85 and District 91 were within 1% of the total votes cast. Under Virginia law, the second-place finishers may request a recount within 10 days of results being certified. The deadline for filing petitions was moved to Nov. 29, as the courts were closed for Thanksgiving on Nov. 25 and 26. Askew and Mugler filed court petitions for recounts on Nov. 17.

Prior to the election, Democrats controlled the chamber with a 55-45 majority. Republicans needed to gain six seats to take control of the chamber in 2021, and Democrats needed to hold at least 51 seats to maintain their majority. Five of the ten preceding elections in the chamber saw net shifts of six seats or more: twice in Republicans’ favor and three times in Democrats’. On average, 6.6 seats shifted control per election cycle during that same time frame.

The outcome of the House elections, in addition to the state’s 2021 gubernatorial election, also determined Virginia’s trifecta status. Virginia became a Democratic trifecta in 2019 for the first time since 1994. Since Republicans won control of the House and the governorship in 2021, they have ended Democrats’ trifecta control of the state.



Democrats raised 78 percent more than Republicans in seven flipped Virginia House seats

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates took place on November 2, 2021. Democrats lost their majority in the chamber. Republicans regained their majority, winning 52 seats to Democrats’ 48 seats. Seven seats changed party hands as a result of the elections this year. In those seats, Democrats raised $12.3 million and Republicans raised $5.4 million between Jan. 1, 2020, and Nov. 25, 2021.

In all of these districts, the Democratic candidate raised more money than the Republican candidate. The district with the largest difference in fundraising was District 91 (166 percent) and the district with the smallest difference in fundraising was District 12 (48 percent).

Heading into the election, Democrats held 55 seats and Republicans held 45 seats. There were 93 districts with both a Democratic and Republican candidate on the ballot. This was the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Fundraising in seats that changed party hands

District 12 – $2,751,364.52

Incumbent Chris Hurst (D) raised $1,703,629 and Jason Ballard (R) raised $1,047,735.

Ballard received 55.2 percent of the vote and Hurst received 44.4 percent. 

District 28 – $3,542,970.39

Incumbent Joshua Cole (D) raised $2,430,940 and Tara Durant (R) raised $1,112,030.

Durant received 51.0 percent of the vote and Cole received 48.8 percent. 

District 63 – $1,776,979.15

Incumbent Lashrecse Aird (D) raised $1,509,705 and Kim Taylor (R) raised $267,273.

Taylor received 51.1 percent of the vote and Aird received 48.8 percent. 

District 75 – $2,417,257.41

Incumbent Roz Tyler (D) raised $1,514,495 and H. Otto Wachsmann Jr. (R) raised $902,762.

Wachsmann received 52.6 percent of the vote and Tyler received 47.3 percent. 

District 83 – $3,099,477.32

Incumbent Nancy Guy (D) raised $2,175,443 and Tim Anderson (R) raised $924,034.

Anderson received 51.3 percent of the vote and Guy received 48.7 percent. 

District 85 – $3,365,580.81

Incumbent Alex Askew (D) raised $2,310,631 and Karen Greenhalgh (R) raised $1,054,949.

Greenhalgh received 50.2 percent of the vote and Askew received 49.7 percent. 

District 91 – $716,551.91

Incumbent Martha Mugler (D) raised $654,344, Aijalon Cordoza (R) raised $60,330, and Charles West (L) raised $1,877.

Cordoza received 49.4 percent of the vote and Mugler received 49.0 percent. 

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Nov. 25, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.



Democrats outraise Republicans by 125% in Virginia state legislative races

New campaign finance filings for Virginia state legislative races showed that Democrats led Republicans in fundraising through the election cycle. Between January 1, 2020, and November 25, 2021, Democratic candidates outraised Republican candidates by 125 percent.

Heading into the general elections, 103 Democratic candidates raised $56.39 million compared to $25.11 million raised by 103 Republicans.

In the Democratic party, the top fundraisers in the most recent reporting period were:

In the Republican party, the top fundraisers in the most recent reporting period were:

The candidates who raised the most money were incumbent Wendy Gooditis (D) in House District 10 ($3,085,894), incumbent Joshua Cole (D) in House District 28 ($2,430,940), and incumbent Jerrauld Jones (D) in House District 89 ($2,377,726).

State legislative general elections were held on November 2, 2021. In some cases, party nominees may have been chosen earlier.

Democrats entered the election with a 21-19 majority in the Virginia State Senate and a 55-45 majority in the Virginia State House. No elections took place in the Senate. In the House, Republicans won seven seats to gain a 52-48 majority.

Campaign finance requirements govern how much money candidates may receive from individuals and organizations, how much and how often they must report those contributions, and how much individuals, organizations, and political parties may contribute to campaigns. All campaign financial transactions must be made through the candidate’s committee. Campaign committees are required to file regular campaign finance disclosure reports with the Virginia Department of Elections.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.



Recount begins in Virginia House of Delegates District 85

A recount of votes cast in the Nov. 2, 2021, general election for Virginia House of Delegates District 85 began on Dec. 2. Incumbent Del. Alex Askew (D) and District 91 incumbent Del. Martha Mugler (D) both filed court petitions for a recount on November 17. The recount in District 91 is expected to begin on Dec. 7. 

In Virginia, a candidate may request a recount of his or her race within 10 days of results being certified if the margin between the requester and the winning candidate is less than or equal to 1% of the total votes cast for the two candidates. Certified results released on Nov. 15 showed both races were within this margin. Karen Greenhalgh (R) led Askew by 127 votes in District 85 and Aijalon Cordoza (R) led Mugler by 94 votes in District 91. 

According to Virginia Beach Deputy Registrar Christine Lewis, the District 85 ballots will be recounted using a high-speed scanner, and any ballots featuring irregularities will be counted by hand. On Dec. 3, any ballots challenged by either candidate will be inspected by a three-judge panel, who will then rule on how they should be counted.

According to the certified results, Republicans won 52 of the chamber’s 100 total seats, meaning that if the recounts in Districts 85 and 91 succeed in reversing the results, the chamber will be tied 50-50. In the event of a tied chamber, the House would vote on a power-sharing agreement and the Clerk of the House would preside over the vote for a speaker. Any tie vote in the chamber would reject any agreement, speaker, or legislation. 

Across the 50 states, 20 states have a statutory provision allowing for automatic recounts, and 43 states have a statutory provision allowing for requested recounts. Since 2017, Ballotpedia has covered five noteworthy recounts at the state legislative level. Those five recounts resulted in two reversals of the initial election result, one of which became a tie.

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Redistricting committee updates in Connecticut and Virginia

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting committee updates from Connecticut and Virginia:

In Connecticut, the ​Reapportionment Commission selected John McKinney (R) as a ninth and potentially tie-breaking member. McKinney is a former state Senator who served as minority leader for seven years. The previous tie-breaking member, Kevin Johnson (D), resigned from the position. Though the commission is composed of eight members, it selects a ninth member who only votes in the event of a tie.

So far, the commission has enacted a state Senate map, and has a deadline of Nov. 30 to draw maps the state House and U.S. House. If the commission does not complete maps by that deadline, the maps will be subject to review by the Connecticut Supreme Court.

In Virginia​, the Redistricting Commission did not complete legislative maps by the Oct. 24 deadline, and did not complete congressional maps by the Nov. 8 deadline, which meant that authority to redraw maps passed to the Virginia Supreme Court. The Court requested the commissioners submit nominees for special masters to assist the Court in drawing the maps. On Nov. 1, Republicans and Democrats submitted three nominees each. The Court rejected all three Republican nominees and one Democratic nominee for special master on Nov. 12 and requested that legislators submit new nominations. On Nov. 19, after commissioners submitted new nominees, the Court unanimously approved two of them: Sean Trende, who was the Republican special master nominee, and Bernard Grofman, who was the Democratic nominee.

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Signatures submitted to Loudoun County Circuit Court against school board member Atoosa Reaser

Supporters of a recall against six of the nine members of the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia submitted signatures against Vice Chairwoman and Algonkian District representative Atoosa Reaser on Nov. 18. Supporters said they filed 1,859 signatures. A total of 1,213 signatures are required to move the recall forward.

The signatures were submitted to the Loudoun County Circuit Court, where the petition will be reviewed by a judge. If the case is accepted, a trial will be held. At the trial, recall supporters must “demonstrate the officer engaged in neglect of duty, misuse of office, or incompetence in the performance” in order to remove Reaser from office.

Reaser’s petition was the second to be filed this month. Recall supporters submitted signatures against Chairwoman Brenda Sheridan on Nov. 9.

At-large representative Denise Corbo, Blue Ridge District representative Ian Serotkin, Broad Run District representative Leslee King, and Leesburg District representative Beth Barts were also included in the recall effort. All six members were supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee in their last elections. The effort against King ended with her death on Aug. 31, and the effort against Barts ended with her resignation effective Nov. 2. Recall supporters had filed enough signatures to advance Barts’ recall to a trial, but she resigned before the trial took place, making the case moot. Petitions against the other two members have not been filed.

The recall effort is sponsored by the Fight For Schools political action committee (PAC). The PAC is led by Ian Prior, who previously worked for the Department of Justice under the Trump administration and for the National Republican Congressional Committee. Recall supporters said they launched the effort due to school board members’ involvement in a private Facebook group. They said the board members’ involvement in the group was a violation of Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act as well as the school board’s Code of Conduct because the members discussed public matters in a private setting. Recall supporters also alleged that the district was using Critical Race Theory in its employee training and student curriculum, which they opposed.

Interim Superintendent Scott Ziegler said the district uses a Culturally Responsive Framework that “speaks to providing a welcoming, affirming environment and developing cultural competence through culturally responsive instruction, deeper learning, equitable classroom practices and social-emotional needs for a focus on the whole child.” He said the district did not use Critical Race Theory in its staff training or student curriculum. 

A group called Loudoun For All formed a political action committee to counteract the recall effort. “There is no reason equity in our schools should be this controversial,” Rasha Saad, president of Loudoun For All, said in a statement.

Reaser was first elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year and comprised 92 schools.

Ballotpedia has tracked 84 school board recall efforts against 215 board members so far in 2021—the highest number of school board recall efforts we have tracked in one year. The next-highest year was in 2010 with 38 recall efforts against 91 school board members.

In the first half of 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 164 recall efforts against 262 officials. This was the most recall efforts for this point in the year since the first half of 2016, when we tracked 189 recall efforts against 265 officials. In comparison, we tracked between 72 and 155 efforts by the midpoints of 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.

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Three of the five Virginia House races with the most fundraising resulted in partisan control changes

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates took place on November 2, 2021. Democrats lost their majority in the chamber. Republicans regained their majority, winning 52 seats to Democrats’ 48 seats. Three of the seats that changed party hands were among the five districts with the most fundraising in the 2021 election cycle.

Heading into the election, Democrats held 55 seats and Republicans held 45 seats. There were 93 districts with both a Democratic and Republican candidate on the ballot. This was the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Five most expensive general elections

DistrictMoney RaisedPre-Election ControlPost-Election Control
District 10$4,372,000.60DemocraticDemocratic
District 85$2,938,036.50DemocraticRepublican
District 83$2,768,861.30DemocraticRepublican
District 28$2,686,629.06DemocraticRepublican
District 73$2,573,085.71DemocraticDemocratic

#1 District 10 – $4,372,000.60

Incumbent Wendy Gooditis (D) raised $2,876,678.21 while Nick Clemente (R) raised $1,495,322.39.

Gooditis won re-election. She received 50.9 percent of the vote and Clemente received 48.9 percent.

In 2019, candidates in this district raised $2,633,438 and Gooditis won 52.3 percent to 47.6 percent.

#2 District 85 – $2,938,036.50

Incumbent Alex Askew (D) raised $2,123,593.11 while Karen Greenhalgh (R) raised $814,443.39.

Greenhalgh defeated Askew. She received 50.2 percent of the vote and Askew received 49.8 percent.

In 2019, candidates in this district raised $2,193,470 and Askew won 51.6 percent to 48.2 percent.

#3 District 83 – $2,768,861.30

Incumbent Nancy Guy (D) raised $2,041,767.36 while Tim Anderson (R) raised $727,093.94.

Anderson defeated Guy. He received 51.3 percent of the vote and Guy received 48.7 percent.

In 2019, candidates in this district raised $2,467,095 and Guy won 50.0 percent to 49.8 percent.

#4 District 28 – $2,686,629.06

Incumbent Joshua Cole (D) raised $1,742,132.53 while Tara Durant (R) raised $944,496.53.

Durant defeated Cole. She received 51.0 percent of the vote and Cole received 48.8 percent.

In 2019, candidates in this district raised $2,265,794 and Cole won 51.8 percent to 47.8 percent.

#5 District 73 – $2,573,085.71

Incumbent Rodney Willett (D) raised $1,757,744.82 while Mary Margaret Kastelberg (R) raised $815,340.89.

Willett won re-election. He received 51.9 percent of the vote and Kastelberg received 48.0 percent.

In 2019, candidates in this district raised $2,332,478 and Willett won 52.2 percent to 47.7 percent.

Fundraising in all contested elections

Across Virginia in the 2021 election cycle, the average amount raised for a general election featuring more than one candidate was $725,238. The map below shades the Virginia House districts based on the amount of money raised in that district.

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Oct. 21, 2021. Candidate PACs represent individuals who have run for state or local office at any point, including past and present officeholders. This article does not include non-candidate PACs.

This article was published in partnership with Transparency USA. Click here to learn more about that partnership.