Republicans fortify majority by defeating incumbents
- December 29, 2009
The House of Delegates will be filled with new faces when the General Assembly convenes on Jan. 13.
Twenty newly elected delegates will take their seats in the 100-member chamber. Half of them were elected to posts vacated by delegates who were not seeking re-election. The other 10 got to the Capitol the hard way, defeating incumbents either in a party primary or the general election.
The challengers’ success in 2009 is historically noteworthy. In the four elections held between 2000 and 2008, only 10 incumbents total were defeated.
The changeover largely benefits the Republican Party, which gained six seats in the House of Delegates to strengthen its majority to 61-39.
Speaker of the House William J. Howell, R-Fredericksburg, notes that the quality of candidates was a major reason for their success. “We really had outstanding challengers,” says Howell. “They worked hard, started early, knocked on doors. We were able to fund them adequately so they were able to get their message out. In addition, it wasn’t a Democrat year.”
Republican challengers benefited from enthusiasm for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bob McDonnell — and lack of interest in his opponent, Democrat Creigh Deeds.
Democrats had gained delegate seats in 2005 and 2007. In this election, many of those seats went back to Republicans, notes Stephen J. Farnsworth, assistant professor of communication at George Mason University. “The unpopularity of [former President George W.] Bush made it possible for Democrats then,” says Farnsworth. “Republicans won back some places that, generally speaking, are pretty evenly matched.”
All of the Democrats defeated in 2009 were elected in the last four years, notes Ben Dendy, president of The Vectre Corp., a Richmond-based government relations firm. “It’s usually your more junior members who are less vulnerable because they’re accustomed to running and have strong organizations,” says Dendy. “So it was an incredibly successful election for the House Republicans.”
The Senate also will see two new faces this session because two incumbents were elected to other offices. Special elections to fill those seats will be held on Jan. 12. Because both seats have been held by Republicans, the outcome will not affect Democratic control of the Senate.
Republican Steve Hunt, a former Fairfax County School Board member, and Democratic Delegate David S. Marsden, are battling to replace state Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, who was elected attorney general. Republican Jeff McWaters, the retired CEO and founder of Amerigroup Corp., has been nominated to replace Ken Stolle, who was elected sheriff of Virginia Beach. Democrats have not fielded a candidate for the race.
Following is a brief introduction to the new legislators:
Richard L. Anderson
District 51 (Prince William County)
Anderson defeated Delegate Paul F. Nichols by about 300 votes. Anderson had a 30-year career in the U.S. Air Force and was a former senior adviser to the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force.
Richard P. “Dickie” Bell
District 20 (Staunton)
Bell handily won the seat left open by retiring Delegate Christopher B. Saxman. Bell has been on the Staunton City Council for four terms and is a special education teacher and boys’ soccer coach at Riverheads High School.
William H. Cleaveland
District 17 (Roanoke)
Cleaveland easily defeated Democratic challenger Gwen Mason to replace retiring Republican Delegate William Fralin. Cleaveland is a lawyer who specializes in defense work, and plaintiff’s injury and civil litigation.
Barbara J. Comstock
District 34 (McLean)
Comstock defeated incumbent Delegate Margi Vanderhye. Comstock owns a public relations and government affairs firm. She worked for the federal government for many years, including a stint as director of the office of public affairs for the U.S. Department of Justice.
John A. Cox
District 55 (Hanover)
Cox replaces retiring Delegate Frank D. Hargrove Sr. Cox owns Cox Transportation Services, a trucking company.
James E. Edmunds II
District 60 (Halifax)
Edmunds is a farmer and sits on the Halifax County Board of Supervisors. He replaces Clark Hogan, who retired earlier this year.
T. Scott Garrett
District 23 (Lynchburg)
Garrett defeated Delegate Shannon Valentine by about 200 votes. Garrett is a surgeon and was a Lynchburg City councilman.
Thomas A. Greason
District 32 (Loudoun County)
Greason defeated Delegate David Poisson, a Democrat, to secure the seat. Greason is executive vice president for Current Analysis Inc., a business consulting firm.
James M. LeMunyon
District 67 (Prince William)
LeMunyon defeated incumbent Delegate Chuck Caputo, getting 53 percent of the vote. LeMunyon, a co-founder of Sterling Semiconductor, now is CEO of HexaTech.
James W. “Will” Morefield
District 3 (Tazewell)
Morefield easily defeated Delegate Dan C. Bowling. Morefield, 25, owns the Shipping Center in Tazewell.
Christopher P. Stolle
District 83 (Virginia Beach)
Stolle defeated Delegate Joe F. Bouchard after narrowly losing to him two years ago. Stolle, a retired Navy nuclear engineer, is an obstetrician/gynecologist and vice president of medical affairs at Riverside Regional Medical Center in Newport News.
Ron A. Villanueva
District 21 (Virginia Beach)
Villanueva defeated incumbent Delegate Bobby Mathieson by just 14 votes. Villanueva, a Virginia Beach councilman, is executive vice president and co-principal of SEK Solutions, which provides equipment for the military and law enforcement.
Robin A. Abbott
District 93 (Newport News)
Abbott defeated Republican incumbent Delegate Phil Hamilton, who is under a federal ethics investigation. Hamilton sought a job at an Old Dominion University education center after seeking state money for it as a legislator. Abbott is a partner in the law firm Consumer Litigation Associates.
Betsy B. Carr
District 69 (Richmond)
Carr easily won this seat, which was left vacant when Delegate Franklin P. Hall retired after 34 years. Carr is a member of the Richmond School Board and is outreach director at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Richmond.
Patrick A. Hope
District 47 (Arlington County)
Hope won this seat after Delegate Al Eisenberg announced he would retire. Hope is the director of legislative policy at the American College of Cardiology and an adjunct professor at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
District 80 (Portsmouth)
James will fill the seat left open by retiring Delegate Kenneth Melvin. James is president and CEO of the Peninsula Council for Workforce Development in Newport News.
Mark L. Keam
District 35 (Fairfax County)
Keam replaces Democrat Steve Shannon, who decided not to run when he won the Democratic nomination for attorney general. Keam has most recently served as vice president and counsel for Verizon Communications.
L. Kaye Kory
District 38 (Fairfax County)
Kory defeated incumbent Delegate Bob Hull in the Democratic primary and then bested Republican Danny Smith in the general election. Kory has served on the Fairfax County School Board for the past decade.
Scott A. Surovell
District 44 (Fairfax)
Surovell defeated Republican Jay McConville for the seat left open when Delegate Kris Amundson decided not to run for re-election. Surovell is a co-founder and owner of Surovell Markle Isaacs and Levy PLC, where he practices criminal defense, civil litigation, family law and small business litigation.
Luke E. Torian
District 52 (Prince William)
Torian defeated Rafael Lopez for the seat left open when former Republican Party Chairman Jeffrey Frederick resigned. Torian is a Baptist minister and co-president of the Eastern Prince William County Ministerial Association.