Editorial – Area to remain election battleground

Published 3:13 pm Friday, November 18, 2022

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High-stakes elections keep coming in Western Tidewater.

State Sen. Jen Kiggans’ win over incumbent U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, D-Va., in the recently redrawn 2nd Congressional District loomed large as control of the U.S. House of Representatives was still undetermined as of this writing on Monday afternoon. A much-expected “red wave” nationally failed to materialize, with a dozen or so House races still too close to call and Republicans clinging to a narrow, but still insufficient, advantage as the nation waited to see whether Democrats will remain in power in the House. Kiggans did her part for the GOP, flipping southeast Virginia from blue to red.

Isle of Wight played a significant role. Local voters gave the challenger 61% of their votes in the hotly contested race. In fact, Isle of Wight voters generally were in a mood for change. In one of the most shocking results in recent political history, Smithfield Mayor Carter Williams was ousted. Two incumbent Isle of Wight School Board members also got the boot.

Political junkies can take a short breath before a 2023 election that will determine control of another important body: the Virginia General Assembly.

The plot thickened last week when retired NASCAR driver and sports broadcaster Hermie Sadler confirmed what had been long speculated: that he would run for the Republican nomination in the new Senate District 17, challenging Suffolk businesswoman and current state Del. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, who many just assumed would go unchallenged in the spring primary.

District 17 is a rural Western Tidewater configuration stretching from Suffolk on the eastern edge to Emporia and southside Virginia on the west. It will be one of a handful of “purple” districts that is expected to determine which party controls the state Senate in 2024.

State Del. Clinton Jenkins, D-Suffolk, is so far unopposed for the Democratic nomination in Senate District 17 and has to be gleeful over a bruising Republican primary between the deep-pocketed Sadler and the presumptive GOP favorite, Brewer.

Jenkins, if he remains unopposed in the Democratic primary, can conserve his cash while his GOP opponent will have spent a boatload to win the primary.