Currently Republicans hold the Virginia House of Delegates by 2 to 1. Republicans have no such hold on the Virginia Senate where they hold 21 seats and the Democrats have 19. Democrats are hopeful that they can take back control of the Senate in November. Their first target is the seat being vacated by the retirement of Sen. John Watkins, R-Powhatan. The district has voted democrat over the last few years.
Democrats will also challenge Frank Wagner, R-Virginia Beach and the seat being vacated by Jeff McWaters, another Virginia Beach Republican.
Democrats are also looking at three more Senate seats although these will be much more difficult to flip, Senators Richard H. Black, R-Loudoun, Bryce E. Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, and William M. Stanley Jr., R-Franklin.
Those are a lot of seats in play. Realistically, the Democrats only have a chance in about two or three with Watkins topping the list. Even Sen. Majority Leader Tommy Norment says they view the 10th District as competitive. But Democrats only need one to put the Senate back into a tie with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam breaking any ties. And they NEED that one because Dems are quickly losing their Republican-lite counterparts in Sens. Stosch and Watkins (and maybe Hanger).
Republicans aren’t about to just sit back and play defense. They’re eyeing a few pick ups themselves, starting with the seat being vacated by Dem Sen. Chuck Colgan in Prince William County. They’re also aiming for Sen. Lynwood Lewis, who barely won Northam’s old seat in a special election, and John Edwards in Roanoke, the last Democrat senator in SWVA.
But this battle won’t just be between the Senate caucuses. The Governor is coming to play. Sitting Governors usually find themselves with plenty of money and influence to throw around at these races, but Terry McAuliffe is a special case, and he knows it. And it’s not just about the Senate – McAuliffe is looking to build an operation that not just takes back the State Senate but lays the groundwork for Clinton 2016:
“I’m laying the groundwork and putting all the pieces in place for ’15 to get my Senate back,” McAuliffe said. “But that same team I’m putting in place and operations will be a set-up to make sure that [in 2016] Virginia’s blue.”
“MY SENATE BACK” the Governor says.
Hopefully the people of Virginia will have something to say about who the Senate really belongs to.