Democratic primaries set for contested state House, Senate races

Published 5:45 pm Thursday, March 16, 2023

Primary elections on June 20 will decide the Democratic Party’s nominees for Isle of Wight and Surry counties’ new House of Delegates and state Senate seats.

Virginia’s Supreme Court adopted new legislative districts in 2021 based on the 2020 Census, moving Surry County into the 82nd House District and 13th Senate District. The new maps also split Isle of Wight between the 83rd and 84th House Districts and moved the entire county into the 17th Senate District.

The 82nd and 83rd are also listed in a Virginia Department of Elections letter as holding Republican primaries, though each race is presently uncontested on the Republican side.

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In the 82nd, which includes all of Surry and Petersburg and parts of Prince George and Dinwiddie counties, three Democrats are vying for the nomination: Kimberly Pope Adams of DInwiddie, Victor “Vic” McKenzie Jr. of Petersburg and Branden Riley, also of Petersburg.

The 82nd has only one Republican candidate so far. Del. Kim Taylor, R-Petersburg, was elected in 2021 to represent the 63rd District but was redistricted into the 82nd.

In the 83rd House District, which includes most of Smithfield and western Isle of Wight County, only one Democrat and only one Republican have declared their candidacies to date.

According to Joe Puglisi, chairman of the Isle of Wight County Democratic Party, Mary Person of Emporia is the only Democrat who has announced an intent to run for the seat.

On the Republican side, Del. Otto Wachsmann, R-Sussex, is running for reelection. The pharmacist-turned-delegate won his seat representing the current 75th District in 2021, unseating longtime Democratic incumbent Del. Roslyn Tyler.

The 83rd now spans southwest from Isle of Wight to include all of Southampton, Sussex, Greensville and Brunswick counties, as well as the city of Emporia and part of Dinwiddie County.

In the 84th, which spans Isle of Wight County’s border with Suffolk and includes Franklin and part of Chesapeake, Del. Nadarius Clark, D-Portsmouth, is vying for the nomination against Michele Joyce of Smithfield.

Navy veterans Mike Dillender and Rod Thompson, both of Suffolk, are vying for the 84th District’s Republican nomination, but that race will be decided via a June 17 convention in Windsor.

A March 9 letter from Virginia Department of Elections Commissioner Susan Beals to local electoral boards listed Democratic primaries for all 100 House races and Republican primaries for 58 of them. Beals’ letter states that if only one candidate qualifies for the ballot, no primary will be held.

For each race that uses a primary, candidates have until 5 p.m. April 6 to file paperwork to get their names on the ballot. Primary races require each candidate to file a nominating petition bearing the signatures of at least 125 registered district voters for House of Delegates races and at least 250 registered district voters for Senate races.

Senate District 13 is also set to hold Democratic and Republican primaries on June 20, though the Republican side is presently uncontested.

State Sen. Joe Morrissey, D-Petersburg, was redistricted into the 13th and is running for reelection against former Henrico County Supervisor candidate Angela Rowe and former Del. Lashrecse Aird, D-Petersburg, who lost narrowly to Taylor in 2021. Eric Ditri of Prince George County is the only Republican presently running for the seat.

In the 17th Senate District,  Del. Clinton Jenkins, D-Suffolk, is vying for the seat as the only Democrat presently in the race. On the Republican side, Del. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, is vying for the party’s nomination against retired NASCAR driver Hermie Sadler of Emporia, though that race will be decided by a June 3 convention at Paul D. Camp Community College’s Franklin campus rather than a primary.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that Angela Rowe was a Henrico supervisor candidate, but not elected to the Board of Supervisors.