Whether you want to know what to look for or want to sound erudite while awaiting today’s election results, here are some key questions to keep in mind tonight:
- Will an independent get elected to City Council? There are just too many independents running for that to be likely, but it is possible. If one does make the cut, whether that independent is to the right or the left of Charlottesville Democrats will be important for tea leaf readers.
- Will Democrats regain control of the Board of Supervisors? With conservative Democrat Lindsay Dorrier retiring—a reliable voting ally of Republicans on the board—and Democrat Cynthia Neff staging a strong challenge to two-term incumbent Republican Ken Boyd, Dems could remain a two-person minority on the six-person board, they could tie it up by gaining one seat, or return the board to where it was two years ago by winning both of the contested seats. It’s possible for a Democratic majority to bring a halt to the Western Bypass. If they do win, look for Albemarle to rejoin ICLEI, if only to annoy the anti-UN conspiracy theorists.
- By how much will Democrats win the two nominally competitive state-level races? In the 59th House district, Connie Brennan is the odds-on favorite against the Republican and independent candidates for the open seat, but if she wins by less than 50%, she’ll surely face a strong challenge in two years. And in the 25th Senate district, Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) is facing a challenge in the form of T.J. Aldous Jr., a conservative Republican who lives in Charlottesville, but he hasn’t lived in Virginia for long, and he’s been out-raised 5:1 by Deeds.
- Will Senator Edd Houck win re-election? Few around here had heard the conservative Democrat’s name before this year, when the 17th Senate district was redrawn to include part of Albemarle. Republican Bryce Reeves of Fredericksburg is taking the opportunity to run against Houck, raising $1M to Houck’s $1.2M, making this a pretty high-dollar race. The district has changed enough that it’s tough to know if Houck will survive the challenge; the benefits of incumbency disappear pretty quickly with severe redistricting. This race is of particular importance statewide because of Democrats’ 22-18 advantage in the Senate of Virginia. Republicans have a very real chance of taking the Senate tonight, which would eliminate any role for Democrats in state governance.
For my money, the Board of Supervisors is the most exciting spectacle in Albemarle politics tonight.
Polls close at 7:00, and precinct-level results should start showing up on the State Board of Elections’ website starting around 7:15.
7 thoughts on “What to Watch for with Tonight’s Election Returns”
Regarding Houck, do you think the new precincts in his district (with the voters who are unfamiliar with him) being fairly Democratic will help him? It seems the areas that the Senate Dems kept in his districts are the ones that he typically does well in. Then again incumbency seems to mean much less these days. I guess we will see in a few hours.
You’re absolutely right, redistricting looks like it could help him, and it probably will well. (Here’s a comparison of the old 17th and the new 17th district.) If I were putting money on this race, I’d definitely put it on Houck. But giving a very conservative Democrat a more liberal district isn’t entirely a favor. :)
There are a couple of specific ways that this district could be bad for Houck. The first is that the new district still voted 61.2% for (Republican) Bob McDonnell two years ago, which is inherently a tough uphill. His second problem is his low name recognition and, accordingly, high enthusiasm gap among the Democratic base. Houck’s got his annual challenge of persuading a majority-Republican district to reelect him, while simultaneously convincing his new voters to bother to show up and support him.
One could do very well forecasting the reelection of incumbents, every time. :) If Houck loses, that would be an indicator of an awfully bad night for Democrats.
“It’s possible for a Democratic majority to bring a halt to the Western Bypass.”
I’m not sure that’s true.
I’ll bet it is. I’ll bet a clever BoS member could come up with a few different ways to do so. Just look at the Meadowcreek Parkway. There have been dozens of times when that road could have been sunk in the past decade, even a few occasions in the past year, and that’s after construction started. On the flip side, if somebody had said a couple of years ago that a Republican majority on the BoS could lead to the immediate construction of the Meadowcreek Parkway, I would have said that wasn’t true, but I sure would’ve been wrong. :)
(That said, I don’t know of a specific way that could be done now, though I suspect that’s only because I’m not sufficiently informed about the specifics of the process.)
It’s been an hour and a half. My “reload page” finger hurts. I don’t think I’ve ever waited this long for local results to appear on the SBE website.
Looks like we’re headed for a recount in the Houck/Reeves race, unless the few remaining precincts lean heavily in one direction or the other.
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