House Hunting

Virginia Republicans went House hunting Tuesday.

The GOP widened its lead over Democrats in the House of Delegates, thanks in part to strong up-ticket momentum.

Seven seats flipped from Democrat to Republican. Two seats flipped Republican to Democrat, meaning the GOP picked up a net gain of five seats.

One race — the Virginia Beach contest between Del. Bobby Mathieson (D) and challenger Ron Villanueva (R) — is still too close to call and seems poised for a recount.

Here’s a breakdown of the key GOP wins:

DISTRICT 3

Republican Will Morefield easily defeated Democratic incumbent Del. Daniel Bowling, 57 percent to 43 percent.

DISTRICT 23

Lynchburg city councilman Scott Garrett knocked off two-term Democrat Del. Shannon Valentine. This was among the races the state GOP targeted from early in the game.

DISTRICT 32

Republican Tag Greason beat Del. David Poisson (D) to take this seat that represents part of Loudoun County.

DISTRICT 34

Former Bush administration official Barbara Comstock defeated freshman Democrat Del. Margi Vanderhye. This is a huge pickup for Republicans, who desperately wanted to win this seat.

DISTRICT 51

Rich Anderson (R) topped Del. Paul Nichols (D) in this Prince William County district.

DISTRICT 67

Republican Jim LeMunyon takes down Del. Chuck Caputo. Another GOP-targeted race, another gain in Northern Virginia.

DISTRICT 83

Chris Stolle (R) lost to Joe Bouchard (D) in 2007, but came back for a re-match this year and won. Republicans focused heavily on this Virginia Beach seat.

Here’s a breakdown of the two Democrat gains:

DISTRICT 52

Luke Torian (D) defeated Rafael Lopez (R) to take control of this Prince William County seat. It was vacated when Del. Jeff Frederick (R) — the former embattled Virginia GOP chairman — decided not to seek another term. Democrats thought they could win this seat, and they were right.

DISTRICT 93

Del. Phil Hamilton (R) is under investigation by a House ethics panel and by a federal grand jury for his actions on the Appropriations Committee. Democrat Robin Abbott seized on that issue, and was able to take down the veteran Republican, by a 53-45 margin.

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