House races take shape
Published 9:44 am Saturday, April 11, 2009
The local races for the House of Delegates are taking shape, with some candidates already qualified and ready to square off in June for their parties’ nomination, and others prepping for the big show in November.
In the 64th District, Delegate William Barlow is running for a tenth term and so far has no opposition from his fellow Democrats. Barlow first took office in 1992.
Two Republicans have announced their candidacy and have qualified for the race: Mike Holle and Stan Clark. One of those men will meet Barlow in the general election in November.
Holle, 47, works as a corporate engineering coordinator at Dominion Virginia Power’s Nuclear Technical Center in Richmond. He has lived in Surry County for 17 years.
Clark, 53, is a Portsmouth attorney and is a member of the Isle of Wight County Board of Supervisors representing the Newport District.
Richard Railey, chairman of the Democratic Party for the 75th District and also for Southampton County, confirmed that Delegate Roslyn Tyler was running for a third term, had qualified as a candidate under state rules, and had selected the caucus method for clinching the party’s nomination in June.
“The incumbent has the right to choose whether he or she is nominated by a primary or by a caucus,” Railey said. “Generally, incumbents as a practical matter demand primaries because if somebody is going to try to take them down they want them to go to the trouble and expense of a primary, where (incumbents) should have an advantage because of better name recognition, etc.”
He added, “but she’s done something: she’s asked for a caucus. She made that known to me some time ago.”
Railey said that under Democratic Party rules, the party gives a legal notice 14 days ahead of a caucus, usually publishing the event in a newspaper. The party also contacts regular members of the Democratic committee, and people in the Democratic committees across the 75th House District, to inform them that the party is having a caucus.
“People will be allowed to attend who can certify that they reside in that House district, and do not intend to support a candidate opposing a Democrat in the general election,” Railey explained.
When asked if choosing a caucus was an unusual move, Railey said, “for a General Assembly race, yeah.”
“It’s not unheard of,” he said. “They have them more often in urban areas. But in the vast majority of cases an incumbent will always take a primary. If you ask for a primary and it scares everybody off, then you don’t spend any money. If you have to go through a primary fight, you might spend a lot of money. But if you have a caucus, it’s possible you could get blindsided. You have to know who the actors are prior to meeting.”
Railey didn’t know of any Democratic challengers to Tyler.
“Nobody that I know of,” he said. “One thing I’ve learned about this life, I’m constantly amazed. But I wouldn’t anticipate it.”
AN ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM?
Meanwhile, it was unclear if Tyler would face a Republican opponent in the general election on Nov. 3.
Woodrow Harris, chairman of Republican Party for the 75th District Legislative Committee, said the GOP would hold a legislative district convention if a qualified candidate comes forward.
“There has not even been one called and set yet, because we have not gotten official notice that there is a candidate who’s interested in being considered,” Harris said from his home in Emporia on Friday. “The State Board of Elections requires that the nominations be completed with the declaration of candidacy and the information provided by the party chairs by 5 p.m. on June 9.”
Harris, asked to describe a legislative district convention, said the event was “very similar to a caucus. There would be representatives from each of the jurisdictions who are in the 75th District that would be selected by their units to come and cast their jurisdiction’s votes if there were more than one candidate.”
He added that the Republicans would “gather together at a place that’s announced and advertised beforehand, much like the state conventions operate, but on a much smaller scale. A candidate would be nominated by those delegates in attendance from the jurisdictions that comprise the legislative district.”
Asked if he knew of any potential Republican opponents to Tyler in November, Harris said “there were two who were interested, but one lady has determined that the timing is not right for her to be a candidate. I think whether the other individual ends up deciding that he wants to run or not, it looks to be that he would be the only one at this point who would be interested in seeking it.”
Harris declined to identify the other potential candidate on the record.
“I really feel bad that we don’t have anyone running against her,” said Teresa Preston, chairman of the Franklin/Southampton Republican Party unit. “It’s getting harder and harder to find people because most people just want to live their lives and let someone else do it.”
THE DISTRICT BOUNDARIES
Since the House of Delegates consists of 100 members, each member represents approximately 71,000 citizens. District boundaries are adjusted periodically. The last technical adjustments were made in 2007, but the borders in our area have been unchanged since 2003.
The 64th District comprises all of Surry County and the City of Williamsburg. It also includes part of the City of Franklin, specifically Precinct No. 1. The Smithfield, Carrollton, Rushmere, Pons, Courthouse, Windsor, Orbit, Walters, Carrsville and Zuni precincts in Isle of Wight County are all also in the 64th District, as are the Hunterdale and Sedley precincts in Southampton County. Small portions of James City County are also in the 64th.
Meanwhile, the 75th District comprises all of Greensville and Sussex counties and the City of Emporia. Also included are the Berlin, Ivor, Boykins, Branchville, Capron, Sebrell, Drewryville, Forks-of-the-River, Courtland, Blackwater River and Newsoms precincts in Southampton County, Precinct Nos. 2 through 6 in the City of Franklin, and the Camps Mill Precinct in Isle of Wight County. Parts of Brunswick and Lunenburg counties are also in the 75th.
“I liked it better in the old days, when one candidate represented all of Isle of Wight and Southampton, and that’s what his base was,” Railey said. “But then again, there’s a great divergence in Isle of Wight between rural and suburban. So I don’t know if the county lines mean as much as they used to. Southampton is still rural, but there are places where it looks suburban.”
Redistricting is to occur in Virginia again in 2011.
“A funny-looking egg is going to get funnier as time goes on,” Railey said.