The 12th Delegate district has included Blacksburg and the campus of Virginia Tech since single member districts started in 1981. From Blacksburg it has been stretched in all sorts of different directions but one thing has been consistent- the vote in Blacksburg has kept this district in the Democratic column. That streak was broken in the 2011 elections, when Joseph Yost stunned local Democrats by winning an open seat race over Don Langrehr.
House District #12 (map here)
50.9% of the vote in Montgomery County
24.1% of the vote in Giles County
17.1% of the vote in Radford City
7.9% of the vote in Pulaski County
2012 Major Party Election Results
Barack Obama 15,992 (52.2%)
Mitt Romney 14,670 (47.8%)
Tim Kaine 16,937 (54.2%)
George Allen 14,285 (45.8%)
Anthony Flaccavento 15,725 (51.4%)
Morgan Griffith 14,892 (48.6%)
This is a really interesting district with multiple pieces that have very different views. On the Mongtomery County side of the line, Barack Obama won by a 9,467-6,126 margin in the parts of the county in and around Blacksburg. That's 60.7%- if it were its own district, we would rate that portion of this district as California. On the other side of the district, the City of Radford (home of Radford University) also voted for Obama by a much closer 2,732-2,520 count or 52.0%. Radford closely matches with this district as a whole which is rated as Virginia. But the GOP has some strong areas here too- the "Democratic" parts of Pulaski that were included here were actually Republican this year- a 1,364-1,062 vote or 56.2% for Mitt Romney. That's close the results in Mississippi. Finally- this district now includes the entire county of Giles- a GOP stronghold that voted 4,660-2,730 for Romney or 63.1%. That county closely matches the results from West Virginia. So this district literally is split with California on one end, and West Virginia on the other.
Tim Kaine ran ahead of Barack Obama in all four localities, but his margin over Obama was much larger in the more conservative counties. This portion of Pulaski voted for George Allen in a tight 1,294-1,173 contest, 47.5% for Kaine or a 3.7% improvement over Obama. Same in Giles as Allen won 4,640-3,082, where Kaine's 39.9% was a 3.0% bump over Obama. But around the universities at Radford and Virginia Tech there was more party line voting. In Montgomery County Kaine won 9,843-5,898 (62.5%) or a 1.8% boost over Obama, while Kaine won in Radford City by a 2,839-2,453 (53.6%) vote or a 1.6% bump over the President.
The Congressional race between Morgan Griffith and Anthony Flaccavento reverted back to the Presidential numbers- no county had even a 1% crossover from the Presidential vote. Griffith won Pulaski 1,359-1,068 (56.0%) and Giles 4,792-2,694 (64.0%) while Flaccavento won Radford 2,674-2,562 (51.1%) and this portion of Montgomery County 9,289-6,179 (60.1%).
The redistricting here was really interesting. On one hand, Republicans were drawing this seat for a Democrat- as they included all the precincts that a GOP Delegate wouldn't want in Montgomery and Radford in this district instead of splitting them among neighboring areas. They even included the more Democratic part of Pulaski County, putting the more GOP areas in Pulaski and Montgomery in the adjacent 7th district for a Republican. But when all these Democratic areas were included, more population needed to be added to this district (which had run all the way to Bath County before). So the GOP tossed in strongly Republican Giles County- which isn't enough to make this district Republican, but it makes it very close. When it came time for candidates for this open seat, Republicans smartly got Joseph Yost to run- a native of Giles County, Yost lives now in Montgomery County and is a graduate of Radford. That would all be great by itself- but he also added a young face to the GOP- important in an area swarming with a younger population around the two universities.
With Yost now in office and compiling some moderate votes in the General Assembly can he be defeated? Perhaps- it depends a lot on the political environment upballot and the quality of the opponent he draws. Former Delegate Jim Shuler has been pushing the candidacy of Montgomery County Supervisor Mary Biggs- a school teacher with degrees from both Radford and Virginia Tech in the district. With that profile it is easy to see why Shuler feels that Biggs has the best chance to win this seat back for the Democrats. However Biggs has not yet announced as some activists are also pushing a candidacy from Victoria Cochran. Ironically in 2011, a couple of months were lost in this seat as Victoria's husband Steve Cochran considered a candidacy before deciding not to run, time that may have made the difference in holding the seat to begin with. Whatever local Democrats decide they will need to do it soon- as Yost has been working this district hard as a full time Delegate and is going to make it as tough for a challenger to prevail here.
Previous Districts Covered
House District #1- Terry Kilgore (Utah)
House District #2- Mark Dudenhefer (Delaware)
House District #3- Will Morefield (Utah)
House District #4- Joe Johnson (Wyoming)
House District #5- Israel O'Quinn (Wyoming)
House District #6- Anne Crockett-Stark (Oklahoma)
House District #7- Nick Rush (Kansas)
House District #13- Bob Marshall (New Mexico)
House District #28- Bill Howell (Florida)
House District #50- Jackson Miller (Michigan)
House District #51- Rich Anderson (Ohio)
House District #52- Luke Torian (Hawaii)