Hampton Roads Candidates Strike Out In Statewide Primaries
- Written by Hannah Schuster, Jonah Grinkewitz, Sam Turken and Paul Bibeau
- Category: Local News
- Published: 09 June 2021
This story was last updated June 9 at 9:24 a.m.
Tuesday's primary elections proved tough for some of the region's incumbents and political powerhouses.
It was the same story for local Democrats who sought their party's nomination for statewide office.
Five incumbents lost their seats in the House of Delegates, among them three-term Democratic Del. Steve Heretick of Portsmouth.
Community activist Nadarius Clark defeated Heretick, in a race that drew hundreds of thousands of dollars from political groups that want to curb the influence of Dominion Energy.
Clark ran as a progressive, and he criticized Heretick for voting against bills to ban assault weapons and no-knock warrants. At 26, he would be the youngest member of the General Assembly.
"We only had one delegate that was [representing] … the millennials," he told WHRO. "So I’m so glad that I can step up to fill those shoes, to be another young candidate to represent the next generation of leaders."
In an interview, Clark said he wants to increase funding for vocational programs and address the racial disparities in maternal health.
Huge amounts of money poured into this primary -- Clark outraised Heretick largely thanks to contributions from political action committees tied to a wealthy Charlottesville hedge fund manager.
The PACs support candidates who refuse to take money from Dominion Energy, the electric utility whose role in Virginia politics has become increasingly controversial in recent years.
Dominion is one of Heretick’s biggest donors, responsible for roughly a quarter of his fundraising.
Throughout the campaign, Heretick decried the influence of Bills’ money, at one point telling the Virginia Mercury he refused to drink the “Michael Bills Kool-Aid.”
Clark says his campaign also relied heavily on grassroots organizing.
“We knocked on over 20,000 doors in this primary election,” he said.
Quentin Kidd, dean of the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University, said there is a clear divide between “moderate, business-oriented” Democrats who take money from Dominion and more progressive candidates who refuse its contributions.
But he thinks Heretick’s defeat has less to do with Dominion than it does local politics in Portsmouth and frustration with Heretick, who is also involved in an ongoing fraud lawsuit.
“I think Steve Heretick found himself sort of on his heels,” Kidd said.
In November, Clark will go up against Lawrence Mason, the first Republican to run for this seat since 2001.
Republican Primary Goes Down To The Wire In the 83rd
Republican Chris Stolle lost his bid to take back his old House of Delegates seat, falling to Virginia Beach lawyer Tim Anderson by fewer than 30 votes.
Stolle previously held the 83rd district, which includes parts of Virginia Beach and Norfolk, for a decade. He lost to Democrat Nancy Guy in 2019 by an only slightly larger margin of 41 votes.
Stolle’s campaign manager said he may still request a recount.
“Chris is certainly used to close races, and he will respect the result, but it is only appropriate to wait for a canvass to be completed to make sure no errors were made, and then potentially look at a recount,” Diego Rebollar told The Virginian-Pilot.
Observers have looked to the Stolle-Anderson matchup for some insight into the direction of Virginia’s Republican party.
Kidd described it as a contest between the Republican establishment and the party’s Donald Trump-aligned wing.
Stolle, a doctor, is a political institution in Virginia Beach. His brother Colin, is the Virginia Beach Commonwealth’s Attorney and his other brother, Ken, is the city’s sheriff.
His sister, Siobhan Dunnavent, is a state senator representing the Richmond suburbs.
Chris Stolle is a traditional conservative but, in a bipartisan move, was one of a handful of Republicans who voted to expand Medicaid in 2018.
Anderson drew attention last summer when he led an effort to recall Democratic Sen. Louise Lucas. He backed away from the effort after Lucas filed a defamation lawsuit against him.
This year he also sued Gov. Ralph Northam over coronavirus restrictions and helped Republican firebrand Amanda Chase challenge her censure in the state Senate.
Both lawsuits were unsuccessful.
“The two wings of the Republican party have fought it out, and now it looks like Virginia Beach Republicans are a little bit more Trump-oriented,” Kidd said of the race, but he added: “I will have to see how well that plays in the fall because I don’t get the sense that the 83rd District is oriented that way in a general election.”
Anderson will face Del. Guy in the November general election, as both parties fight for control of the House.
Also on Tuesday, Democrats had to pick an opponent for Republican Del. Glenn Davis, who represents parts of Virginia Beach.
Virginia Beach school board member Kim Melnyk won the nomination over Tracie Liguid, the first Filipino woman to compete for the spot.
Photo by Jonah Grinkewitz
Andria McClellan spoke to supporters in Norfolk Tuesday night as primary results came in.
Hampton Roads Candidates Lose Bids For Higher Office
Two candidates from Hampton Roads ran for higher office in the Democratic primary. Norfolk Del. Jay Jones lost the Attorney General's primary to incumbent Mark Herring, and Norfolk City Council member Andria McClellan finished fourth in the race for lieutenant governor.
Democrats now have a slate of statewide candidates entirely from Northern Virginia, the voter-rich region that has been key to the party’s success in recent years.
"Tonight’s result is disappointing, but we will not let it deter us from continuing the fight to bring true reform to Virginia," Jones said in an election night statement. "We must elect leaders who will be proactive, not reactive and rise to meet this moment in our history."
Come November, Herring will face Virginia Beach Del. Jason Miyares, the Republican candidate for Attorney General.
Jones ran simultaneously for his House seat in the 89th District, easily defeating a challenge from Hannah Kinder.
"I look forward to working in the House of Delegates to build on the progress we have made towards a Virginia that guarantees justice for every community," Jones said.
McClellan finished with 10.62% of the vote in the lieutenant governor's race. Prince William County Del. Hala Ayala won the nomination, ensuring Virginia will have its first woman of color as lieutenant governor.
"I know (Ayala) shares my values of expanding access to opportunity to every Virginian, regardless of circumstance, zip code, race, religion, sexual orientation or gender-identity," McClellan said in a statement.
Former Virginia Beach state delegate Winsome Sears is the Republican nominee for the position.
She was the first Black Republican woman to serve in the General Assembly. She represented the 90th District, which includes parts of Norfolk and Virginia Beach, from 2002-2004.
Particularly in the lieutenant governor’s race, there were stark regional divides in the Democratic primary results.
Roanoke Del. Sam Rasoul did well in western and southwestern portions of the state. McClellan did best in Norfolk and Hampton Roads.
Kidd says this makes sense, considering none of the six candidates had particularly broad name recognition.
“In the fall, everyone is going to be on TV,” he said. “Everyone is going to be well known by their supporters.”
A note of transparency - Andria McClellan sits on the WHRO Governing Board of Directors.