Local Commentary

Senator Whipple’s Richmond Report

Fall is in the air (finally!) and elections are coming soon. The yard signs are sprouting, the mail is coming fast and furious, and cable TV ads are proliferating.

There will definitely be changes in the General Assembly since there have been a number of retirements. Three Virginia Senators retired this year, all Republicans: John Chichester of Stafford; Charles Hawkins from Pittsylvania County; and Russ Potts of Winchester. Two Republican senators were defeated in primaries: Brandon Bell of Roanoke County and Marty Williams of Newport News.

All of these senators are considered to be in the moderate wing of the Virginia Republican Party. If their replacements are Republicans, they will generally be much more conservative than the departing Senators, and that could have a real impact on the Senate.

On the Democratic side all senators are running for re-election, many with little or no opposition.

Many Republican Senators also have little or no opposition. With the redistricting in 2001, there are few competitive districts.

However at least four Democratic senators have real opposition and at least that many or more Republicans have spirited opposition from Democratic challengers. Three of those races are in Fairfax County.

Enough seats are in play that it is possible that the Democrats may achieve a majority although that remains to be seen.

We are eagerly awaiting the results of the election on November 6th to see what the composition of the Senate will be and what that will portend for the future. More on that next time!

The House of Delegates can also expect to have some changes in membership. In the past two elections, Democrats have gained seats in the House and many observers expect that trend to continue.

The Democrats in the House, however, are eleven seats away from a majority and few believe that they will be able to win that many races.

Unprecedented amounts of money are being poured into campaigns this year. Everything is more expensive: postage, advertising and so on.

The Virginia Public Access Project provides a real service by publicizing campaign finance reports online. There you can find out who has contributed to a campaign and in what amount if it is over $100; what expenditures the campaign has made; totals contributed and spent, and cash on hand. Go to vpap.org to see for yourself.


All of this in an election year with the lowest turnout of any year in Virginia’s four-year cycle. The Presidential year is always the highest and next to that the mid-term Congressional election year. That is followed by the year when Virginia’s governor is elected.

This year, dubbed the Constitutional officer year, is when most county officials are elected. For example, all members and the Chair of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors are on the ballot this year. No matter how important this election is to people’s daily lives, voter turnout tends to be low.

So expect more mailings, signs, and advertisements to come your way in the next ten days. And vote on November 6!