Stories about Virginia

Freitas wins Republican nomination at Virginia’s 7th Congressional District convention

Nick Freitas defeated John McGuire and four other candidates in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District’s July 18 Republican primary convention. After the third and final round of voting, Freitas received 56 percent of the delegate vote to McGuire’s 44 percent.
Freitas led in fundraising during the primary with $1,031,000 according to June 28 campaign finance reports. McGuire followed with $670,000. Freitas was also supported by Club for Growth, which spent roughly $300,000 supporting his candidacy.
Freitas will face incumbent Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-07) in the general election. She was first elected in 2018, defeating incumbent David Brat (R) by a margin of 50 percent to 48 percent.
The 7th Congressional District one of 30 U.S. House Districts represented by a Democrat in 2020 that voted for Donald Trump (R) in 2016. During the presidential election, Trump received 51 percent of the vote to Hillary Clinton’s (D) 44 percent in the 7th District.

Scott Taylor wins Republican nomination for VA-02, sets up rematch with Elaine Luria

Scott Taylor defeated Ben Loyola and Jarome Bell to win the Republican nomination for U.S. House in Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District. Taylor had received 48.2% of the vote to 28.3% for Loyola and 23.4% for Bell as of 8:00 PM Eastern with 74% precincts reporting. Taylor served a single term in the U.S. House before being unseated by Elaine Luria (D) in 2018. Luria was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Two election forecasters say the general election leans towards Luria and a third calls it a toss-up.

3 states holding primaries for 42 congressional seats on June 23

Three states are holding primaries on June 23, 2020. Forty-two congressional seats will be on the ballot, including two U.S. Senate seats and 40 U.S. House seats.

The following seats will be on the ballot in Kentucky:
• 1 U.S. Senate seat
• 6 U.S. House seats

The following seats will be on the ballot in New York:
• 27 U.S. House seats

The following seats will be on the ballot in Virginia:
• 1 U.S. Senate seat
• 7 U.S. House seats

Four of Virginia’s 11 U.S. House seats—Districts 7, 8, 9, and 10—are not on the ballot because they are either holding conventions instead of primaries or their primaries were canceled due to lack of opposition.

Entering the November 2020 general election, the U.S. Senate has 45 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with the Democratic Party. Thirty-five of the 100 U.S. Senate seats are up for election, including two seats up for special election. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. The U.S. House of Representatives has 233 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one Libertarian, and four vacancies. All 435 U.S. House seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

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Hudson becomes first African American commissioner on Virginia State Corporation Commission

Gov. Ralph Northam (D) appointed Jehmal Hudson to the Virginia State Corporation Commission on June 9, making Hudson the first African American commissioner to serve on that body. Hudson succeeds former commissioner Patricia West, who served on the commission from March 2019 until her term expired in January 2020.

The Virginia State Corporation Commission consists of three members responsible for handling all charters “of domestic corporations and all licenses of foreign corporations to do business” within the Commonwealth of Virginia. In addition to serving as the primary filing office for corporations, the commission regulates the insurance, public utilities, securities, retail franchising, and railroad industries. Commissioner positions are officially nonpartisan.

The Virginia General Assembly typically elects state corporation commission members to six-year terms. In Hudson’s case, however, members of the legislature were unable to agree upon his appointment before the end of the legislative session in December 2019. As a result, Northam appointed Hudson to a temporary term that expires 30 days after the general assembly begins its next legislative session on January 13, 2021. The legislature will have the option to reappoint Hudson to a full term.

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All of Virginia now operating under Phase One of reopening plan

On May 29, Northern Virginia, as well as Richmond and Accomack County, moved into Phase One of the “Forward Virginia” reopening plan, leaving no part of the state under a stay-at-home order.

The stay-at-home order ended for parts of the state on May 15, but Gov. Ralph Northam (D) delayed Northern Virginia’s entry into Phase One to give the region more time to bring down the number of COVID-19 cases. Northam also delayed the implementation of Phase One for Richmond and Accomack County after leaders requested more time to prepare for reopening.

Phase One eases restrictions on several types of businesses. Non-essential retail, for example, can reopen at 50% capacity, and restaurants and breweries with outdoor seating permits can allow 50% seating capacity outdoors. Gatherings are limited to 10 people.

Beginning May 29, face coverings are required in public indoor settings for people 10 years and older.

Stay-at-home orders have ended in 31 states. Eighteen of those states have Republican governors and 13 have Democratic governors (including Wisconsin, where the state Supreme Court invalidated the stay-at-home order). Of the 12 states with active stay-at-home orders, one has a Republican governor and 11 have Democratic governors.

Virginia Supreme Court to hear environmental law case on oyster fisheries

On May 18, 2020, the Virginia Supreme Court announced that it will hear a case between the City of Suffolk and a group of Virginia oyster fishermen. The original lawsuit was filed in November 2018 by C. Robert Johnson III, Lisa Lawson Johnson, Thomas Hazelwood, Johnson and Sons Seafood, and Hazelwood Oyster Farms, who sued the city and the Hampton Roads Sanitation District.

The plaintiffs alleged that the city and the sanitation department were polluting the Nansemond River by depositing sewage and allowing unwanted stormwater to enter the waterway. They argued that the government has taken their property by causing the river to become so polluted that they cannot harvest oysters from waterways in which they hold leases.

Circuit Court Justice L. Wayne Farmer took up the case on April 9, 2019. The lawsuit was dismissed in September 2019. The appeal took issue with Justice Farmer’s use of caselaw from 1919 which they argued is not in consonance with modern environmental regulation policy.

Joseph Waldo Lyle, who will be representing the oystermen before the state supreme court, remarked “The law says governments can pollute the waterways… It’s not 100 years ago. It is today, and the issue will always be, how can you put untreated raw sewage into a river that people fish, raise oysters, and swim, and boat in?” He said, “The Supreme Court of Virginia has said this case is important enough to determine whether or not the city’s right and they can discard waste and human sewage into the Nansemond River… It’s a very important, precedent-setting case.”

There are two ways that appeals cases can reach the Virginia Supreme Court. The most common is based on the argument in a dissenting opinion at the level of the court of appeals, and the least common is when a party successfully seeks discretionary review by the supreme court. The plaintiffs’ case sufficiently convinced the justices of the Virginia Supreme Court that the appeal merited discretionary review of the lower court, allowing the case to circumvent hearing in the appellate court.

Virginia is one of only two states in the country that uses legislative selection to appoint state supreme court justices. Virginia has used legislative selection to select its justices since 1776 when the state constitution was written. This year, there are no vacancies on the Virginia Supreme court, nor are there any retention elections for justices currently sitting on the court.

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Voters decide municipal and school board races in Chesapeake and Norfolk, Virginia

Chesapeake and Norfolk, Virginia, held nonpartisan general elections for municipal and school board offices on May 19, 2020.

Candidates ran in elections for the following offices:

Mayor of Chesapeake
• Incumbent Richard West defeated Lenard Myers, Steffanie Aubuchon, and Palmer Smith.

Chesapeake City Council
• Don Carey III and incumbents S.Z. Ritter and Robert Ike won at-large seats on the nine-member council.

Chesapeake School Board
• Angie Swygert and incumbents Samuel Boone, Victoria Proffitt, and Tom Mercer won at-large seats on the nine-member school board.

Mayor of Norfolk
• Incumbent Kenny Alexander ran unopposed.

Norfolk City Council
• Incumbents Andria McClellan and Angelia Williams Graves won re-election to their city council seats in Superwards 6 and 7, respectively. Both ran unopposed.

Norfolk School Board
• Incumbents Noelle Gabriel and Rodney Jordan won re-election to the school board in Superwards 6 and 7, respectively.

Norfolk and Chesapeake are the second- and third-most populous cities in Virginia and the 80th- and 90th-most populous in the U.S.

Together, the Norfolk and Chesapeake school districts served a total of 71,422 students during the 2017-2018 school year.

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