21 Kerry/Kaine/Byrne/Deeds/Webb/No/Obama/Warner Districts
Currently held by 21 Democrats, 0 Republicans
Ratings for these 21 Seats:
15 Safe Democratic
3 Likely Democratic
2 Leans Democratic
1 Slight-Lean Democratic
The 11th District was drawn to be a Democratic stronghold, centered in Roanoke City. However, recent allegations about campaign finance issues have weakened the incumbent Onzlee Ware. The Republican candidate is a placeholder named Troy Bird, but this seat could heat up if Ware's finance issues take him into court. For now, because of the tilt of the district, and the weakness of the GOP candidate, this is a "Likely Democratic" hold.
The 34th District is in McLean and Great Falls in Fairfax County, and Margi Vanderhye seriously underperformed here in her 51-49 open seat victory in 2007. Barbara Comstock is running an energetic campaign as the challenger and she is raising a lot of money- but her own background as a very partisan Republican operative may not help her with Independent voters. For now, because of Comstock's funding and Pat Herrity's victory in this district in the recent Special Election for Chairman of Fairfax County this race only "Leans Democratic".
The 35th District is anchored by Vienna and Oakton and is currently represented by Steve Shannon. Democrats nominated Mark Keam in a four way primary, while Republicans nominated Jim Hyland. Jim has been a repeated loser in many runs for office, but he has run in bad GOP years or overwhelmingly Democratic local districts before. This is his first real opportunity for a victory. While Democrats are hoping for Shannon to have coattails here, the reality is this district has shown an adversity to coattails in the past. When Steve won this seat 51-49 in 2003, Jeannemarie Devolites Davis was carrying this district in her Senate race by a 59-41 margin. Additionally impacting any potential coattails this year is three of the precincts also overlap with Ken Cuccinelli's Senate district, which could polarize those areas in the Attorney General's election. Keam's endorsements in the primary came from the elected officials in the area who under-perform in this district because of issues like Tysons Tunnel and MetroWest in Vienna so those associations may not help him in the General Election. Finally, Pat Herrity won this district in the recent Special Election for Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors over Sharon Bulova. This seat should be a Democratic hold, but everything seems to be breaking in the other direction so far- so we have this rated as only a "Slight-Lean Democratic" at this point.
In the 38th District, Kaye Kory is facing Danny Smith in the General Election after defeating incumbent Bob Hull in the Democratic Primary. Kaye has run strong here before for School Board, and Smith was crushed by the underwhelming Hull in 2001. This seat is a "Likely Democratic" hold.
In the 44th District, incumbent Kris Amundson retired this week. There will be a Democratic Caucus to decide her replacement in the next few weeks, but so far the only candidate is former Fairfax County Democratic Committee Chairman Scott Surovell. Republicans have nominated Jay McConville, a local community activist. This district has been home to some very close elections in recent years- Amundson won her first two terms by 51-49 margins and Sharon Bulova narrowly defeated Pat Herrity here by a couple hundred votes in the recent Special Election for Chairman of Fairfax County. Scott is a very strong candidate with a long local history, but this election will be no slam dunk. Right now, I have this district ranked as "Leans Democratic".
The 46th District was the home of Brian Moran for over a decade in the House of Delegates. His replacement, Charniele Herring took the 80% Democratic district and turned it into a 16 vote victory in the Special Election for the seat. Republicans have nominated Sasha Gong to challenge her this year for the full term. This seat should be a "Safe Democratic" victory, but Alexandria Democrats appear to be in total meltdown right now. Herring is invisible, and doesn't seem to be running much of a campaign once again- which almost cost her the seat earlier this year. Right now, I have this ranked as "Likely Democratic" because of up-ticket coattails, but this seat could once again go into play in November if Herring doesn't get her act together.
The Republicans have done a good job putting some of these Democratic seats into play this year. However, there was one big missed opportunity in the 37th District, with David Bulova going unchallenged. Bulova finished further behind his ticket than any other Democratic candidate in 2005 that was not challenging a GOP incumbent- and since then has drawn no opponent in 2007 or 2009. While Bulova will head back for a third term, I expect this will be a hotly contested seat in 2011 when the Republicans poll this district and find out that no one remembers who David is, and the ones who do don't really like him.
Part Two (The 11 Kerry/Kaine/Byrne/Deeds/Webb/Yes/Obama/Warner Districts) coming soon!