Republicans roll out target list in bid to take back Virginia state House

Republicans roll out target list in bid to take back Virginia state House
© Greg Nash

Republicans are launching their opening attack on Democrats in Virginia as the GOP looks to flip the state House of Delegates.

The Republican State Leadership Committee (RSLC), the body in charge of working to elect Republicans to state legislative seats, unveiled Tuesday an initial list of 13 Democratic incumbents in the chamber who the committee plans to focus on going into this November’s elections in Virginia. 

The RSLC is also launching a six-figure ad campaign in key districts looking to tie the lawmakers to Democrats in Washington and to policies that are known to rile up the GOP base.

“Here’s what we get with Democrats controlling Washington: Rising inflation and higher taxes. Unions running our schools. Crime rates spiking, while liberals call to defund the police. Democrat-controlled Richmond is no different. They hiked taxes and weakened our small businesses. They kept our children locked out of the classroom. And their failures have made Virginia communities less safe,” a narrator says in the ad, which was shared first with The Hill.

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“Whether in Washington or in Richmond, when Democrats win, the people lose. Virginians deserve better. Join the fight to put an end to Democrat control,” the ad says.

The RSLC’s target list includes several lawmakers who won their 2019 races by narrow margins. Of the 13 Democrats, only two won by 10 points two years ago while the rest prevailed by single digits.

Among the most endangered Democrats are Dels. Roslyn Tyler, who won her southern Virginia district by a 51-49 margin in 2019, and Nancy Guy, who flipped her Norfolk-area district by 27 votes

While Republicans are also competing to flip the governor’s mansion this year, the party is bullish on its chances of gaining ground in the state legislature.

The GOP is hoping to seize on the historical trend of parties in the White House losing ground in midterm elections and pound Democrats over their liberal legislative pushes.

Democrats won full control of state government in 2019 after flipping both of the General Assembly’s chambers in a blue wave. Since then, the party has used unified control in Richmond to implement stricter gun control measures and expand access to voting, among other priorities.

“No matter where Democrats win, the people lose, and it is absolutely critical that we remind voters of that reality ahead of Virginia’s elections this fall. While we know the task before us will be a challenge, we are excited about the initial 13 opportunities we have identified throughout the commonwealth to replace extreme liberals who have sold out their constituents to the radical left with commonsense conservatives who will put Virginians first,” said RSLC President Dee Duncan. 

Democrats, meanwhile, contend it is precisely their policies that will boost them in November.

“Since taking the majority in the House, Virginia Democrats have delivered on their promises by passing popular legislation to raise the minimum wage, expand affordable health care, tackle gun violence, and more. No amount of outside help from far-right groups will be enough to distract voters from the fact that Virginia Republicans are running on a dangerous agenda that would threaten their health care and the commonwealth's strong COVID recovery,” said Grant Fox, a spokesperson for the Virginia Democratic Party.

Clawing back ground in Virginia will be no easy feat for the GOP. The commonwealth has become increasingly Democratic in recent years, with President BidenJoe Biden White House: US has donated 200 million COVID-19 vaccines around the world Police recommend charges against four over Sinema bathroom protest K Street revenues boom MORE winning there by over 10 points in November and Gov. Ralph Northam (D) winning his seat by 9 points in 2017.

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Democrats noted that a number of suburban state House districts that Republicans heavily contested in 2019 were not on the initial list, arguing that there are fewer targets for them to pick off as the state’s blue hue deepens.

And while former President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump announces new social media network called 'TRUTH Social' Virginia State Police investigating death threat against McAuliffe Meadows hires former deputy AG to represent him in Jan. 6 probe: report MORE will not be on the ballot next year, Democrats are tying GOP opponents to him and banking on Virginians having a long enough memory to remember why the party base was so revved up two years ago.

Democrats say they have ample opportunities to paint the GOP as Trump’s party, pointing to candidates like Tim Anderson, Guy’s opponent and a lawyer defending two people facing criminal charges for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6.

“Virginia Republicans nominated a right-wing slate of extremists who want to drag Virginia backwards by passing anti-LGBTQ legislation, loosening gun safety laws, and slashing public school funding. With that platform, it’s no wonder the GOP hasn’t won a statewide race in over a decade,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee battleground states press secretary Pieter Brower.

“As long as Republicans continue to embrace Trump and extreme conservatism, we’re confident voters will reject them again in 2021.”