Even as they work to determine their candidates for 2022 elections, Arlington Republicans are looking ahead to state Senate races in 2023.
Matthew Hurtt, the local GOP’s communications chairman, recently sent out a missive reminding the rank-and-file that the Republican Party of Virginia and the Senate Republican Caucus are angling to run nominees in each of the commonwealth’s 40 Senate districts, even in areas as true-blue as those in Arlington.
“They hope to run capable, qualified Republican candidates in every single state Senate district,” he said.
Arlington for the next decade will incorporate just two Senate districts (the renumbered 39th and 40th) following redistricting completed by a court-selected panel after the 2020 federal census. That’s a decline from three in recent years.
“Wouldn’t it be great to send a Republican to Richmond from one or both of these districts?” Hurtt wrote in what could best be described as the triumph of hope over experience, as both districts remains bastions of Democratic voters where, even on a good year, Republicans would be hard-pressed to break 35 percent of the vote.
The two Arlington Senate districts are occupied by incumbents Adam Ebbin (in the current 30th District) and Barbara Favola (in the 31st). Neither Ebbin nor Favola has given any indication of intentions for 2023, although the districts likely would be safe for Democrats whether those incumbents were on the ballot or not.
Hurtt promised that prospective GOP nominees would not be hung out to dry without any resources during the 2023 campaign.
“If a strong Republican candidate earns our nomination from either of these districts . . . we will line up the support of the Arlington GOP behind you and we will work to help boost your chances with support from Senate Republicans,” he said.
Last year, Republicans ran nominees in all four House of Delegates districts that included a portion of Arlington. They were, as expected, kamikaze runs that inflicted no serious damage against the Democratic nominees, but having candidates on the ballot did gin up enthusiasm among Republican voters in the districts.
That likely aided the statewide Republican ticket that narrowly swept into office last November.
Redistricting will reduce the Arlington delegation in the House of Delegates from its current four to three, with two of the redrawn districts occupied by incumbent Democrats (Patrick Hope and Alfonso Lopez) and the third currently not occupied by any incumbent. Existing Arlington districts occupied by Rip Sullivan of McLean and Elizabeth Bennett-Parker of Alexandria have been reconfigured to not include any Arlington precincts.
There remains the possibility that a federal judge could order special elections this November for all 100 redrawn House of Delegates seats.
The 2021 election was supposed to be conducted under the new districts, but COVID delays prevented census data from getting to the state on time, so elections were held under the districts that had been drawn following the 2010 census.