Apologies for being absent from this space for several days. Am back after a relaxing long weekend with family in the North Carolina mountains.
Tonight and tomorrow, NBC29 is taking a look at the House of Delegates races, specifically some of the high-profile matchups from which each party hopes to gain ground.
Here’s some analysis to accompany my reporting.
Democrats obviously want to take control of the House this fall. Political analyst Bob Holsworth tells me that it’s going to be an uphill climb, though.
“[Democrats] almost have to run the table,” Holsworth said. “They have to win almost every contested seat.”
That said, Dems are focusing on two types of GOP incumbents. I like to call them vulnerables (delegates who are at risk because of tough votes, or who narrowly won last g0-round) and vocals (party leaders whose defeat would hurt the Republican power structure and yield momentum for Democrats).
Below is an analysis of Democratic strategy. We’ll look at seats the Republicans hope to gain tomorrow.
- Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle): Bell has positions on the state Crime Commission and the House Courts of Justice Committee. He’s challenged by Cynthia Neff, a former IBM executive who has already raised a hefty war chest.
- Del. Dave Albo (R-Fairfax): Chairs the House courts committee. Challenged by Greg Werkheiser, who lost a bitter battle with Albo in 2005. Many analysts expect this race to get nasty.
- Del. Phil Hamilton (R-Newport News): Always plays a key role in budget negotiations. Hamilton is the definition of a vocal; he’s usually the GOP lawmaker sent to talk to the press during the budget back-and-forth. Faces Robin Abbott, the first Democrat to challenge Hamilton in about a decade.
- Del. Danny Marshall (R-Danville): With Southside continuing to suffer from terrible unemployment problems, Marshall faces a tough fight.
- Del. Tom Rust (R-Loudoun): Has had narrow wins in recent elections.
- Del. Glenn Oder (R-Newport News): Democrats believe they should be able to take this seat, in a primarily blue section of the Commonwealth.
It’s worth pointing out that Democrats are not fielding candidates in some districts where they might be able to win. For example, Del. Scott Lingamfelter (R-Prince William) is in a district that Barack Obama won last year. The Democrat who was challenging Del. Tim Hugo (R-Fairfax) has essentially pulled out of the race. And although it would have been an uphill climb, it’s somewhat surprising that Dems don’t have someone seriously challenging House Speaker Bill Howell (R-Stafford), especially after Howell’s battles with Gov. Tim Kaine (D) about federal stimulus money earlier this year.