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Stories about Virginia

Beth Barts, subject of Loudoun County school board recall effort, resigns from office

Beth Barts, the Leesburg District representative on the Loudoun County Public Schools school board in Virginia, announced her resignation from office on Oct. 15. Her resignation will be effective Nov. 2.

Barts was the subject of a recall effort that included five other members of the board. Her petition was the first one filed with the Loudoun County Circuit Court. At a pre-trial hearing on Oct. 5, the circuit court judge ruled that the petition could advance to a full trial. The judge also granted the recall petitioners’ request to appoint a special prosecutor. Stafford County Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Olsen (R) was appointed to serve in that position.

In Virginia, recall efforts are determined in circuit court rather than at the ballot box. Virginia also requires certain reasons to be met for a recall to move forward, including neglect of duty, misuse of office, incompetence, or conviction of misdemeanors related to drugs or hate crimes. Recall supporters must collect signatures ​​equal in number to 10% of the votes cast in the last election for that office. The recall effort against Barts needed 1,176 signatures. Recall supporters announced they collected 1,860. They submitted the petition signatures on Aug. 25.

In her resignation announcement, Barts said, “This was not an easy decision or a decision made in haste. After much thought and careful consideration, it is the right decision for me and my family.” Her attorney said he expected the recall case against her to be declared moot. He said if she had fought against the case, he expected her to have won.

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.

Barts was first elected to a four-year term on the board on Nov. 5, 2019. She received 54.8% of the vote and defeated one other candidate. Though school board elections are nonpartisan, Barts was supported by the Loudoun County Democratic Committee.

Loudoun County Public Schools served 81,906 students during the 2018-2019 school year.

Ballotpedia has tracked 81 school board recall efforts against 209 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 overall. 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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Eight of 13 Virginia House committee chairs raised less money than the average member this cycle

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Committee chair fundraising

State legislative committee chairs set a committee’s legislative agenda. As a result of this legislative influence, they often raise more money than their counterparts in a state legislature. The average amount raised by delegates who did not serve as a committee chair was $364,123. The funds raised by each of the House’s 13 committee chairs are shown below. 

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 Aug. 31, 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.



Democratic incumbents in VA House elections raised 126% more money than Republican incumbents

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Elections for 93 of the 100 House of Delegates seats up this year feature both a Democratic and Republican candidate. Among the 93 contested House races, there are 48 Democratic incumbents and 35 Republican incumbents. 

Total funds raised

The total funds raised by general election candidates broken down by incumbency status and political party are shown below. 

  • Democratic incumbents raised a total of $22,372,826.
  • Republican challengers raised a total of $5,120,263.
  • Republican incumbents raised a total of $5,094,437.
  • Democratic challengers raised a total of $5,158,720.

Average funds raised

The average funds raised by general election candidates broken down by incumbency status and political party are shown below.

  • Democratic incumbents raised an average of $463,928.
  • Republican challengers raised an average of $88,280.
  • Republican incumbents raised an average of $145,555.
  • Democratic challengers raised an average of $114,638.

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 Aug. 31, 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.



Top five donors to Democratic and Republican candidates for Virginia House

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Top five individual donors by party

Virginia House candidate political action committees (PACs) raised a total of $44.74 million from Jan. 1, 2020, through Aug. 31, 2021. Democratic House candidate PACs raised $33.12 million, while Republican House candidate PACs raised $11.62 million. 

The five individual donors who gave the most money to candidates of a single political party are shown below. 

Top five individual donors to Democratic candidates:

Top five individual donors to Republican candidates:

The data above are based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate PACs submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes fundraising activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 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 donations made to non-candidate PACs. Click on any donor to see their total donations during this fundraising period.

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



Campaign finance data now available for all Virginia House of Delegates races

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. There are 93 districts with both a Democratic and Republican candidate on the ballot. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

In partnership with Transparency USA, Ballotpedia has published campaign finance information for each of the districts in the Virginia House. To view the data by district, click here. On each district widget, you can click on a candidate’s name to view their profile and explore their campaign finance information in more detail.

The data available is current through Aug. 31, 2021. Additional data will be available in late October once the state’s final pre-election campaign finance deadline passes.



Two of the five Virginia House districts with the lowest total donations this cycle are 2019 rematches

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. There are 93 districts with both a Democratic and Republican candidate on the ballot. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

Five least expensive general elections

#1 District 23 – $27,064.85

This district is located in West Central Virginia and includes portions of Lynchburg City and Bedford and Amherst counties. Incumbent Wendell Walker (R) raised $27,060 while Natalie Short (D) raised $5.

The Republican candidate won 64%-36% in the 2019 general election.

#2 District 98 – $34,702.80

This district is located in Eastern Virginia and includes portions of Essex, Gloucester, King & Queen, King William, Mathews, and Middlesex counties. Incumbent Keith Hodges (R) raised $34,703 while Ella Webster (D) raised $0.

Hodges defeated Webster 69%-31% in the 2019 general election.

#3 District 16 – $43,278.02

This district is located in the Southside region and includes portions of Martinsville City and Henry and Pittsylvania counties. Incumbent Les Adams (R) raised $41,038 while Chance Trevillian (D) raised $2,240.

The Republican candidate defeated a Libertarian Party candidate 75%-25% in the 2019 general election.

#4 District 54 – $53,230.00

This district is located in Central Virginia and includes portions of Caroline and Spotsylvania counties. Incumbent Bobby Orrock (R) raised $52,385 while Eric Butterworth (D) raised $845.

The Republican candidate won 58%-42% in the 2019 general election.

#5 District 61 – $56,926.59

This district is located in the Southside region and includes portions of Amelia, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Mecklenburg, and Nottoway counties. Incumbent Tommy Wright (R) raised $39,615 while Trudy Bell Berry (D) raised $4,913 and Joseph Paschal (L) raised $12,399.

Wright defeated Bell Berry 67%-33% in the 2019 general election.

Comparison to the state average

Across Virginia in the 2021 election cycle, the average amount raised for a general election featuring more than one candidate was $394,827.38. 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 August 31, 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. General elections without both a Democratic and Republican candidate were not included.

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



Three of the top five fundraisers to lose a Virginia House primary this cycle were incumbent Democrats

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Primaries were held on June 8, though party committees could also choose to hold conventions instead of primaries.

Top fundraisers with unsuccessful primary campaigns

The Democratic candidates who raised the most money and lost their primary were:

  • Pamela Montgomery – $774,386.90 – District 2 (Lost primary 68%-32%)
  • Incumbent Mark Levine – $534,948.62 – District 45 (Lost primary 59%-41%)
  • Incumbent Steve Heretick – $507,960.02 – District 79 (Lost primary 47%-41%)
  • Incumbent Lee Carter – $262,065.50 – District 50 (Lost primary 44%-38%)
  • Rod Hall – $240,416.56 – District 31 (Lost primary 53%-37%)

The Republican candidates who raised the most money and lost their primary were:

  • Incumbent Charles Poindexter – $140,994.86 – District 9 (Lost primary 63%-37%)
  • Christopher Stolle – $113,601.00 – District 83 (Lost primary 48%-47%)
  • Rich Breeden – $49,870.00 – District 88 (Lost convention 46%-40%)
  • Lowell Bowman – $40,736.78 – District 7 (Finished third in convention with 20% of vote)
  • Mike Dickinson – $39,535.00 – District 68 (Lost primary 91%-8%)

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 June 30, 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. Primary elections with only one candidate were not included.

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



The five Virginia House districts with the most fundraising this cycle all have Democratic incumbents

Elections for all 100 seats in the Virginia House of Delegates are taking place on November 2, 2021. Democrats hold 55 seats and Republicans hold 45 seats. There are 93 districts with both a Democratic and Republican candidate on the ballot. This is the first election cycle since 1999 with Democrats defending a majority in the chamber.

This article lists the five most expensive contested general elections this cycle. It is based on campaign finance reports that active Virginia candidate political action committees (candidate PACs) submitted to the Virginia Department of Elections. It includes activity between Jan. 1, 2020, and Aug. 31, 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.

Five most expensive general elections

#1 District 89 – $2,357,862.70

This district is located in the Hampton Roads region and includes portions of Norfolk. Incumbent Jerrauld Jones (D) raised $2,330,659 while Hahns Copeland (R) raised $27,204.

The Democratic candidate was unopposed in the 2019 general election.

#2 District 11 – $2,109,943.85

This district is located in Southwest Virginia and includes portions of Roanoke. Incumbent Sam Rasoul (D) raised $2,069,106 while Charlie Nave (R) raised $40,838.

The Democratic candidate was unopposed in the 2019 general election.

#3 District 10 – $1,427,115.04

This district is located in Northern Virginia and includes portions of Frederick and Loudon counties. Incumbent Wendy Gooditis (D) raised $713,788 while Nick Clemente (R) raised $713,327.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

#4 District 41 – $1,353,323.67

This district is located in Northern Virginia and includes portions of Fairfax County. Incumbent Eileen Filler-Corn (D) raised $1,353,025 while John Wolfe (R) raised $298.

The Democratic candidate won 72-19 against an independent candidate in the 2019 general election.

#5 District 40 – $1,100,583.90

This district is located in Northern Virginia and includes portions of Fairfax County. Incumbent Dan Helmer (D) raised $751,851 while Harold Pyon (R) raised $348,733.

The Democratic candidate won 52-48 in the 2019 general election.

Comparison to the state average

Across Virginia in the 2021 election cycle, the average amount raised for a general election featuring more than one candidate was $394,827.38. The map below shades the Virginia House districts based on the amount of money raised in that district.

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



Democrats outraise Republicans by 154% in Virginia state legislative races

New campaign finance filings for Virginia state legislative races show Democrats leading Republicans in fundraising. Between January 1, 2020, and August 31, 2021, Democratic candidates outraised Republican candidates by 154 percent.

Heading into the general elections, 103 Democratic candidates raised $28.74 million compared to $11.31 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 Jerrauld Jones (D) in House District 89 ($2,330,659), incumbent S. Rasoul (D) in House District 11 ($2,069,106), and incumbent Eileen Filler-Corn (D) in House District 41 ($1,353,025).

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

Democrats have a 21-19 majority in the Virginia State Senate and a 55-45 majority in the Virginia State House.

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.



Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Matthew Strickler resigns

Matthew Strickler resigned from his position as Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources in September 2021. The press release announcing Strickler’s departure stated he was leaving to pursue “new opportunities where he will continue his excellent work of protecting our nation’s resources.”

Governor Ralph Northam (D) appointed Ann Jennings, Virginia’s deputy secretary of Natural and Historic Resources, as Stickler’s replacement. Jennings was sworn in on Sept. 27. 

Strickler has served as secretary for Virginia’s Department of Natural resources since 2018. He previously worked as a senior policy advisor to Democratic members of the House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources. Prior to working in the Virginia Statehouse, Strickler worked as a legislative assistant to Northam during his tenure in the Virginia State Senate. 

Virginia’s secretary of natural and historic resources is an appointed state executive position. The secretary heads the Department of Natural Resources and oversees five departments relating to the area’s natural and historical resources.

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