Insurgent right-wing candidate unseats incumbent Republican as House GOP courts extremist donors
Richmond – In the primary elections for the House of Delegates on Tuesday, House Democrats soared to victory, while Republicans faltered in the face of right-wing intra-party discord.
Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-Arlington) won his primary with 77.17 percent of the vote; Delegate Luke Torian (D-Woodbridge) won with 76.33 percent; Delegate Kaye Kory (D-Falls Church) won with 62.13 percent; and Delegate Lee Carter (D-Manassas) won with 57.72 percent.
“Virginia voters are rallying behind their Democratic delegates who fought to expand access to affordable healthcare and have led efforts to elevate the working class and protect women’s reproductive rights,” said House Democratic Caucus Executive Director Trevor Southerland. “Meanwhile, Republican in-fighting has cost House Republicans at least one incumbent, and it looks like another House Republican primary could be headed to the courts after a botched primary process from the Republican Party.”
On Tuesday, right-wing challenger Paul Milde ousted incumbent Bob Thomas. The primary was driven by extreme conservative opposition to expansion of the Affordable Care Act in Virginia, which made up to 400,000 more Virginians eligible for affordable health care. In 2017, Bob Thomas won election to the House against Democratic nominee Josh Cole by just 82 votes. This year, Thomas has been removed by the conservative wing of his party and Josh Cole is returning as the Democratic nominee with strong support in the district to flip the seat.
In HD-97, both incumbent Delegate Chris Peace and his right-wing challenger Scott Wyatt are declaring victory in the Republican nomination, in a race that has caused turmoil among Republicans in the General Assembly. Senate Republican Leader Tommy Norment has expressed support for the insurgent candidate, while House Speaker Kirk Cox has tried to pull the incumbent Peace through the Republican nomination process. Right-wing Republicans also targeted Peace for his vote to expand access to affordable healthcare. With neither candidate admitting defeat, the HD-97 Republican nomination contest may go to the courts. Democratic candidate Kevin Washington, an Army veteran who works for the Department of Defense in information technology, won the HD-97 nomination with no opposition.
In addition to voter enthusiasm, House Democrats are fueled by their strong fundraising. The past two campaign finance reports show that House Democrats are outpacing Republicans not just in overall dollar amounts, but in number of individual donations as well. Democratic candidates are even outraising Republican incumbents in targeted districts.
House Republicans are relying on extreme right-wing donors to cover their fundraising gap. This year, the House Republican Campaign Committee took $12,000 from the NRA, House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert accepted $50,000 from televangelist Pat Robertson, and House Republicans held a high-profile fundraiser with Donald Trump’s right-hand man, Vice President Mike Pence.
“As House Democrats hold a commanding lead in overall fundraising and grassroots donations, House Republicans are running to their most extreme right-wing donors for big-dollar donations,” Southerland continued. “The primary elections and the Republicans’ campaign finance reports prove that House Republicans are moving even further to the right and even more out of touch with Virginians.”
Democrats are competing in at least 90 of Virginia’s 100 House districts, surpassing the previous record set in 2017. Republicans, on the other hand, are desperately attempting to cling on to their narrow 2-seat majority by running in fewer districts.