64th District is one of state’s most hotly contested races

Published 12:49 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2017

By Diana McFarland

Managing editor

The House 64th District seat is one of the more hotly contested in the state as candidates move closer to the June 13 primary.

There are three Democratic and two Republican candidates vying for the seat being vacated by Rick Morris, who is not seeking reelection and is currently facing child cruelty and domestic abuse charges.

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So far, House District 56 has seven candidates, while four other House seats across the state have five candidates, and five seats have four candidates, according to the Virginia Public Access Project (VPAP). {mprestriction ids=”1,2,3,4,5,6″}

On the Republican side for the 64th District, Isle of Wight resident and Board of Supervisors Chairman Rex Alphin is vying with Suffolk small business owner Emily Brewer for the party’s nod.

The Democratic nomination is being sought by retired computer scientist John Wandling of Carrollton, Suffolk attorney Rebecca Colaw and educator Jerry Cantrell.

Del. Roslyn Tyler, D-75th, who represents a small portion of Isle of Wight County, is currently uncontested.

Statewide, Democrats are challenging 47 of 66 Republican-controlled districts so far, according to VPAP.

And the number of Democrats is the highest it’s been in years, at 110 candidates running for the 100 seats in the House. There are 85 Republicans running for office.

For example, in the 13th District, located in Northern Virginia, four Democratic candidates are vying to challenge longtime incumbent Republican Bob Marshall.

On the flip side, there are just eight contests in 34 Democratic controlled districts, according to the VPAP.

Democrats are showing far more interest in running this year and the election of President Donald Trump may be one reason.

 “It’s difficult to say what an individual candidate’s motivation is. However, I think it is safe to say that the devastating outcome of the 2016 presidential election, and the lack of effective representation in our region, has galvanized Democrats in the 64th House District to action,” Debra Church, chairperson for the Isle of Wight County Democratic Committee, said.

Charniele Herring, the state Democratic Caucus Chairwoman, said they have had a record-breaking recruitment effort and she attributes that to starting immediately after the 2015 election, as well as the election of Trump.

A lot of issues championed by Trump during the campaign are also issues in Virginia, so it’s “hitting close to home,” Herring said, adding that Virginia Democrats don’t want to become another North Carolina.

North Carolina last year passed its infamous “bathroom bill,” restricting bathroom use by transgender people and causing a costly backlash in the business community.

The Virginia Republican Party did not return a request for comment.

A recent poll by the Judy Ford Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University found that Democrats lead Republican candidates in a generic ballot test for all 100 House of Delegates seats, 48 to 41 percent.

As of March 29, the upcoming November election has the least amount of uncontested races since 2009, which was the election year prior to redistricting.

Herring said the Democrats would have to win 17 seats in the House to earn a simple majority. Currently, there are 66 Republicans and 34 Democrats in the 100 member House of Delegates.

Isle of Wight County, which represents about 44 percent of the entire 64th District, has voted solidly Republican in recent years, including last year’s presidential election, when Republicans handed Trump a 58 percent county win. The 2011 redistricting added 6.4 percentage points Republican, according to the Virginia Division of Legislative Services. 

Virginia residents can vote in either the Republican or Democratic primary, but cannot vote in both.

 Update voter information

Both the Democratic party and the Republican will have a primary on June 13 in Isle of Wight County.

The deadline to update voter registration is May 22 to vote in the June 13 primary. Information on voter registration want forms of photo identification is acceptable can be found at www.elections.virginia.gov. Voter identification is also required.  {/mprestriction}




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