Sea of Blue: Loudoun Republicans Lose All But 1 House Seat

Democrats pulled off a decisive sweep of Loudoun County on Tuesday night, propelling Ralph Northam to the governor’s seat and reshaping the county’s General Assembly delegation.

The Democrats’ statewide ticket—Northam, lieutenant governor candidate Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring—dominated in Loudoun, pulling about 60 percent of the votes in their races.

In the House of Delegates, Del. Dave LaRock (33rd) ended the night as the only Republican standing in Loudoun. Veteran Republican delegates Tag Greason (32nd), Randy Minchew (10th) and Jim LeMunyon (67th) lost by significant margins to their respective Democratic challengers Wendy Gooditis, David Reid and Karrie Delaney—all first-time candidates.

The Loudoun results helped Democrats erode the GOP control of the state house. As of press time Tuesday, Democrats had flipped 15 districts, bringing control of the House within striking distance for the first time in 18 years. Just before midnight, one district was still in play to determine whether Republicans and Democrats would evenly split the House or if Republicans would just narrowly hold on to the majority.

“What a great night. Loudoun kicked butt tonight,” County Chairwoman Phyllis Randall (D-At Large) told party supporters gathered at a local Democratic watch party at Palio’s in Leesburg. “Don’t go away next year and please don’t go away in ’19.”

Democrat John Bell (87th) said after regaining his seat, “Simply put, it’s magical.”

[See Loudoun Now’s Election Day photo gallery here.]

Flipping The House

Loudoun is represented by seven state delegates and, just four years ago, all seven were in Republican hands. Today, Republicans hold 66 of the 100 House seats and, come January, that could be down to as few as 50.

Del. Randy Minchew (R-10) smiles and shakes hands with Fraternal Order of Police past president Ian Griffiths at Dog Money Restaurant & Brewery as results come in showing him losing the race. [Renss Greene/Loudoun Now]
Loudoun is represented by seven state delegates and, just four years ago, all seven were in Republican hands. Today, Republicans hold 66 of the 100 House seats and, come January, that could be down to as few as 50.

Republican Greason said he saw the blue wave coming well before Tuesday night. He told family before the last year’s presidential election, if Democrat Hillary Clinton won, he would fairly easily hold on to his seat. But if Donald Trump won, “I will be in for a dog fight.” That’s what he had this election cycle.

Greason, who has won by comfortable margins since 2009, saw Clinton win in his district by 19 percent. Many of those same voters backed Reid on Tuesday. Reid won with 53 percent of the vote.

The results are a referendum on “what’s happening in Washington,” he said, referring to Trump’s divisive first year in office. “I’m not sure this was about David Reid or Tag Greason. I think this was about voters wanting to send a message to Washington.”

“I think the world has changed this year,” said Gooditis, who defeated three-term incumbent Minchew with 52 percent of the vote. “The U.S.—including Virginia including this district—is ready for change to a kinder, more caring culture, a more caring political culture.”

Her win delivered one of the biggest upsets of the night. She unseated Minchew by 1,137 votes.

Speaking to a restaurant full of Democrats as the results came in, Gooditis said she ran in part because her brother did not get the health care that he needed—and died only two weeks after she declared her candidacy.

“We’ve done this and we’ve put the energy and mileage and the dollars into this, because we know it matters,” Gooditis said.

Minchew, for his part, said he is proud of his six years in office as a self-described moderate and will continue to be active in Leesburg. He said, “this was a wave year, and there’s probably no way that my record would have been able to overcome what was truly a wave year.”

He said the Democratic surge is likely at least in part a response to Trump. But in defeat he resisted the urge some other Republicans have felt to move to the right.

“I will tell you that I do not believe that the solution is rebranding the Republican Party to be more like Corey Stewart,” Minchew said. “That’s not the solution.”

Loudoun voters asked another longtime Republican to step down Tuesday. LeMunyon has held the 67th House District seat since 2010, but lost to Delaney by more than 4,000 votes. Delaney was a registered Republican in Florida before moving to Virginia. She said she wants to work with Republicans, Independents and Democrats.

Loudoun’s only holdout Republican was LaRock in the 33rd District, who fought off a challenge from Democrat Tia Walbridge. LaRock won by 2,951 votes, winning nearly 55 percent of his district’s vote.

He said he was surprised to be the only Loudoun Republican delegate to win the night.

“Some of the most productive and hard-working members of the House will be back to their day jobs full time,” LaRock said. “I can’t imagine that the people of Virginia appreciate the quality of the men who are not going to be going to work for them down in Richmond. These are men whose contributions are enormous. It’s a sad day for the people that they serve.”

Del. John J. Bell (D-87) at a canvassing event the Friday before election day. [Renss Greene/Loudoun Now]
In an interview late Tuesday, Democrat Bell said it was hard to believe he may now be returning to an evenly divided House. He fought off a challenge from Republican newcomer Subba Kolla, taking 62 percent of the vote in one of the state’s most hard-fought districts.

With his party at the helm, he’s hopeful he’ll see progress on the issues he campaigned on. “Like making sure every time someone is sick, they can go to the doctor and not worry about paying rent or feeding their family, preventing the all-too-often gun violence, and ensuring equal pay for equal work,” he said. “These are issues we need to work on, and—majority or not—I hope we can all come together in a bipartisan way to do what’s best for our country and what’s best for our state.”

First-term Democratic delegate Kathleen Murphy handily warded off a challenge from Republican Cheryl A. Buford in the 34th District, carrying 61 percent of the votes. Murphy first won the seat in 2015 when she narrowly beat Republican Craig Parisot by 188. Two years before that, in her first run for the 34th District, Murphy challenged then-delegate Barbara Comstock and lost by 422 votes.

First-term incumbent Jennifer B. Boysko (D-86) trounced Republican challenger Linda Schulz, winning 17,213 votes to Schulz’s 7,697. That gave her nearly 69 percent of the vote.

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