Dillender outspends Thompson in 84th District’s GOP race

Published 2:40 pm Thursday, June 15, 2023

Eight days ahead of the June 20 primary elections, Mike Dillender had outspent challenger Rod Thompson in their race for the new 84th House of Delegates District’s Republican nomination.

Dillender, as of June 12, had raised just over $89,000 and spent just over $58,000. Thompson, by the same date, had raised just over $22,000 and spent just under $18,000, according to campaign finance reports filed by each candidate.

Dillender’s reports show several contributions of $1,000 or more, including a $10,000 donation on May 23 from the reelection committee for House Majority Leader Del. Terry Kilgore, R-Gate City. Dillender also received a $1,000 contribution on June 7 from Smithfield Support Services Corporation, an Illinois-based subsidiary of Smithfield Foods. Just under half of Dillender’s funds have come from personal loans from himself to his campaign.

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Thompson’s reports show only one four-figure donation. Volpe Boykin, chairman of the 84th’s GOP Legislative District Committee, gave Thompson $1,000 on May 17 following the committee’s unsuccessful effort in March to revert the race to a convention.

The committee, a body of Republican Party chairs from the district’s four localities, had voted in December to hold a convention, a party-run nomination method that caps the number of delegates each locality is allowed based on its GOP voting strength.

According to the committee’s recorded meeting minutes, the committee revoted on March 2 with former Suffolk GOP Chairwoman Dawn Jones this time voting for a primary. On March 8, newly appointed Suffolk GOP Chairman Steve Trent joined with Boykin in voting to rescind Jones’ March 2 vote on grounds that regional GOP officials had ousted her as Suffolk’s chair in February, and reaffirm the committee’s December call for a convention.

Jones, however, filed a lawsuit over a similar shakeup in the 17th Senate District’s legislative committee, which resulted in a Richmond judge ordering the state Department of Elections hold a primary rather than a convention to decide the Senate race. The decision also caused the Department of Elections to schedule a primary for the 84th.

Primary elections are state-run and open to all voters regardless of party affiliation.

The 84th, created in 2021 based on the 2020 Census, spans the Isle of Wight County-Suffolk border, with Suffolk accounting for roughly 77% of the district’s voters. It also incudes the city of Franklin and a small area of Chesapeake.

Dillender, a Navy veteran from Suffolk, had run unsuccessfully for the former 76th House of Delegates District in 2021 against Del. Clinton Jenkins, D-Suffolk. Thompson is also a Navy veteran and also from Suffolk.

Jenkins is running as the sole Democratic candidate for the 17th Senate District. Whomever wins the 84th’s GOP primary will face either former Del. Nadarius Clark of Suffolk or Michele Joyce of Smithfield, who are vying for the 84th’s Democratic nomination in their own June 20 primary.