4th Senate- Jan. 3rd
Outlook: Likely Republican
Nothing much going on here, looks like Ryan McDougle will win here over Roger Cavendish. The timing of this special election has made it impossible to campaign much. Creating...
97th House- No date yet, possible Jan. 31st.
Outlook: Leans Republican
The 97th district has been in Democrats sight since John Montgomery put a surprising 47% up in the 2001 election. Republicans have nominated Chris Peace, a local conservative activist. The buzz I am hearing out of this race is the Democratic House Caucus has taken control of the Montgomery campaign. Yes, the same House Caucus that in White Majority seats outside of NoVA currently controls 11 of 62 seats(17%). Peace doesn't add a lot as a candidate, but with the GOP edge in this district, the Montgomery campaign has to catch him. This special has the most statewide impact, because Montgomery would be a perfect statewide Democratic candidate, but won't be able to get there if the Democratic House Caucus runs him into the ground. The analogy to what is going on here is a world champion runner having to do a race with a 100 pound backpack on.
3rd House District- Jan 3rd
Outlook: Leans Democratic
This battle is a really interesting one to watch. This district used to be about as Democratic as Arlington (62% for Clinton, Dukakis won big, etc.) As turnout has exploded in recent Presidential elections to record numbers, social conservatives have gained a foothold in Tazewell County, and reduced the Democratic margins in Buchanan. As both trends continued, both George W. Bush and Jerry Kilgore narrowly won this district under the same formula, a larger GOP margin in Tazewell then the Democrats got in Buchanan.
That formula will be tricky for Republicans now. Democrats have nominated Tazewell Supervisor Dan Bowling who represents the most GOP areas of this district. Meanwhile Republicans nominated Shea Cook, a Tazewell attorney. For Cook to make the numbers work, he has to run up a large margin in Tazewell, which means he needs to rout his opponent in the Supervisor district the Democrat represents. Since that is unlikely, Cook needs to win Tazewell, and hope that Buchanan ignores the election and comes out in much smaller numbers. It's possible, since neither candidate is from Buchanan but this strategy is uphill for Republicans.
23rd House District- Jan 10th
Outlook: Toss Up
This district is a great bell-weather of Virginia, having gone for Bush twice as well as Warner and Kaine. This election could go either way, with two excellent candidates, Shannon Valentine and Michael Harrington. No exciting side stories here, its all about turnout.
33rd Senate- No date yet, possible Jan. 31st.
GOP Caucus Outlook: Leans Staton
Special Election Outlook: Toss Up
Democrats have united behind former Supervisor Mark Herring, by far their best bet for an upset in this seat. Republicans are still fighting it out, but Mick Staton has a clear edge in their nomination process. In a district dominated by Loudoun, the issue here is going to be growth. Herring, before an unsuccessful campaign against Russ Potts in 2003 was on the Board of Supervisors which restricted growth, while Staton was elected to the Board in 2003 to change directions. The 2005 election showed Loudoun may be swinging back to the old board's point of view, but this special election will be about turnout. With passions running high on this issue, turnout could be huge on both sides.
One interesting undercurrent here. A few precincts cross into Fairfax County where Democratic Board Chairman Gerry Connolly has ravaged the smart growth crowd, and pushed them towards local Republicans. Will Connolly depress turnout in these precincts for smart growther Mark Herring and throw the election to Mick Staton? It's possible.