The last two weekends have had the kickoffs for the top three Democrats running for the House of Delegates this year. This list can change as campaigns take off, and tier 2 candidates can prove to be tier 1 candidates. But for right now the three races to watch are these:
2nd District- Mark Dudenhefer vs. Michael Futrell
34th District- Barbara Comstock vs. Kathleen Murphy
86th District- Tom Rust vs. Jennifer Boysko
The 2nd and 86th districts are strongly Democratic seats and both have drawn top tier challengers involved in the community to challenge the incumbents. The 34th district is much more 50-50, but because it is mostly in McLean and Great Falls there is a lower Democratic falloff there in off year elections than other districts- so there is a real chance to defeat Comstock and Murphy has a great resume and contacts to be able to do it.
In Northern Virginia, there are currently 15 Democrats elected to the House of Delegates. At these three kickoffs I saw Delegate Scott Surovell attend two of the three, while Delegate Bob Brink attended one of the three.
The other 13 House Democrats did not show up to any of the kickoffs of their top tier challengers.
Weekends are tough for everyone, especially for legislators in Richmond who are gone all week and are home for a couple days with their constituents and family. But they are tough for every one else too- including the 100 or so people I saw attend each kickoff.
I really think this is important, because a lot of activists don't realize how little many of the incumbents in safe seats do to help challengers. They all brag about being team players, but very few of them raise serious money, or do much more than talk about helping other candidates.
I remember when I ran Chap Petersen's first House race in 2001 and many of the longtime incumbents wouldn't lift a finger to help us. One exception was Bob Brink who helped us put out a mailing late in the campaign by personally going over to the Arlington print shop and overseeing the entire thing himself until it got out to the post office the Friday before election day. Brink is one of the few exceptions of the long time legislators and he will help Democratic candidates. That's why he was one of the two legislators who showed up to at least one of these events.
What makes this particularly galling is many of the younger members in safe seats ran in primaries and talked about how important it was to use those seats to help win back a House majority. But none of newer Democratic members other than Surovell could make the time to attend any of these events?
And before you feel bad for these Delegates, many of them go back to Richmond on Sunday nights. Futrell's kickoff was right off I-95 in southern Prince William- every one of the Delegates who went back to Richmond tonight drove right by his event.
If you are wondering how we ended up in a situation where a state voting Democratic for President ended up with a 68-32 GOP majority in the House of Delegates, this is it.
Some of these people are my friends, some are frenemies, and some are enemies. But I'm calling them all out together. So in district number order- Mark Keam, Ken Plum, David Bulova, Kaye Kory, Vivian Watts, Eileen Filler-Corn, Mark Sickles, Rob Krupicka, Charniele Herring, Patrick Hope, Alfonso Lopez, Luke Torian and Jim Scott- please step it up. There's no reason why each of you couldn't have found one of these three events to mesh with your schedules.