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.