The Virginia State Senate has consistently been one of the hottest contested legislative bodies in the country, with narrow control flipping between Democrats and Republicans.
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With the 2021 election of Glenn Younkin to the Governor's Office, which also helped deliver the narrowly controlled Virginia House of Delegates to the GOP, Republicans in Virginia are now eyeing a majority in the Senate.
Control of the state senate will ultimately dictate how much of Governor Younkin’s conservative legislative priorities can be achieved. For Republicans in Virginia, the stakes could not be higher.
Here are the Virginia State Senate election matchups that could deliver the GOP a trifecta in Richmond.
2021 Legislative Redistricting
The face of Virginia has changed immensely, so to understand the senate elections, we must first understand the newly-created political landscape. The Virginia State Senate redistricting process for 2021 began in November 2020, when Virginia voters approved an amendment to the state constitution establishing a redistricting commission composed of state legislators and other citizens of the commonwealth. The commission was tasked with drafting and approving state and congressional district maps.
However, the commission was unable to reach agreement on new maps, and so the responsibility of redistricting fell to the Supreme Court of Virginia. The court tasked two consultants — one nominated by each party — to draw maps that didn't favor either side.
The final maps, which were approved by the Supreme Court in December 2021, were met with mixed reviews. Some praised the court for creating maps that were more fair and equitable than previous maps, while others criticized the maps for being too gerrymandered in favor of Democrats.
Virginia State Senate districts
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The new maps resulted in a number of changes to the state senate districts. Half of the state senators were either paired or tripled in districts with other sitting senators, with 18 double-ups and two triple-ups. There were also 11 new state senate districts without current incumbents.
So now that we understand the landscape, let's look at the races that Republicans are eyeing to retake a majority in the Virginia State Senate.
District 4: Suetterlein (R) vs Trish-Boyd (D)
The District 4 Virginia Senate district lies in the western part of the state, with Roanoke being the major population center.
Democrat Trish-White Boyd will take on Republican challenger and current member of the Virginia House of Delegates, David Sutterlein.
Trish White-Boyd is a small business owner and a Roanoke City Council member for four years. She is running on a platform of expanding access to healthcare, improving education, and protecting the environment.
The key to district 4 will be voter turnout in Roanoke City, which Trish-Boyd will need to turn out in high numbers to defeat Sutterlein in a district which is seen to lean slightly Republican.
District 17: Brewer (R) vs Jenkins (D)
The senate election in District 17 between Emily Brewer and Clinton Jenkins, both current members of the House of Delegates, is one of the tightest senate races in Virginia. The newly-redrawn district is one of the largest geographically in the state, stretching from Emporia in the south all the way north to Suffolk, its largest populated city.
From a fundraising standpoint, Brewer has the clear advantage, having raised nearly $900,000 compared to Jenkins’ $452,000. The race has also turned negative, with Brewer launching a brutal campaign against Jenkins on allegations of domestic abuse, allegations he and his family strongly deny.
District 24: Diggs (R) vs Mason (D)
The race for senate district 24 pits longtime Poquoson and York County Sheriff Danny Diggs versus incumbent Democrat Senator Monty Mason. Redistricting has changed the district landscape immensely, which now includes Williamsburg, York, and portions of Newport News. Mason currently represents about 65% of the newly redrawn district.
On the issues, Mason is touting his support for tax cuts, typically a Republican issue, while Diggs is relying on his years in law enforcement and support for Governor Youngkin’s “Parents Matter” agenda to gain traction in the hotly-contested district.
The race for Virginia’s 24th senate district will be close, with both candidates touting their perceived advantages. The newly-redrawn district now includes Poquoson, which Diggs sees as an advantage given his name recognition in the area and his years as sheriff. Mason, for his part, still represents 65% of the district, giving him a perceived incumbent advantage.
District 27: Durant (R) vs Giffin (D)
The race for Virginia Senate in district 27 between Republican Tara Durant and Democrat Joel Griffin could be the toughest race to predict among the competitive races. Not only will the two major party candidates square off against each other, but independent candidate Monica Gary could prove to be a spoiler in the race. Her strong support for reproductive rights and pledge to support increased public education funding could siphon votes away from Griffin.
But that does not leave GOP candidate Tara Durant without her own spoiler troubles. A GOP primary candidate, Matt Strickland, is gaining some momentum on his own write-in campaign which could pull a sizable amount of the GOP vote in his direction.
Two potential spoilers in District 27, one for each the Republican and Democratic candidates, makes this race the toughest to predict.