Last weekend the Republican Party of Virginia officially ruled Scott Wyatt the winner of the highly publicized 97th House District nomination contest between him and Delegate Chris Peace, seemingly concluding what has been a heated primary season in Virginia all-around. Several incumbents faced stiff competition from primary challengers, jockeying over who could appeal to their political base the most. While most incumbents survived their contests, others, like Chris Peace, Bob Thomas and Roslyn Dance, were defeated by their challengers.
The biggest story of this primary season, however, isn’t so much which candidates actually won or lost, but how the family values and limited government principles we believe in and fight for dominated many of the races.
Last year we warned lawmakers that expanding Medicaid would create a giant and ever-expanding budget expense, largely dependent on matching federal funds, and allow for Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers to expand their reach to more low-income Medicaid recipients. In the 97th District, it appears that Medicaid expansion inspired many Hanoverians to use a convention to select Scott Wyatt as the Republican nominee over the incumbent Chris Peace, who strongly supported Medicaid expansion in 2018. Similarly, voters in the 28th House District also displeased with Medicaid expansion chose Paul Milde over incumbent Bob Thomas.
In Southwestern Virginia, casino gambling proved to be a major issue as it inspired Michael Osborne to challenge (unsuccessfully) Israel O’Quinn for the 5th District seat in the House of Delegates. O’Quinn carried legislation this year to allow the city of Bristol to hold a referendum to approve casino gambling. On the Senate side, Delegate Todd Pillion secured the Republican nod for the 40th Senate District, as Ken Heath decided to run as an independent rather than a Republican. While we’re not sure about Heath’s position on casino gambling, it is reasonable to suspect that Delegate Pillion – endorsed by retiring Senator Bill Carrico – will at the very least be supportive of legislation to approve government endorsed casino gambling in Virginia.
This primary season, pro-life values were not only an issue in key Republican districts, but also some Democratic districts as well. On the Republican side, incumbent Senator Emmet Hanger in the 24thDistrict had to fend off a challenge from Tina Freitas (wife of Delegate Nick Freitas), who criticized Hanger for his votes on Medicaid expansion and the “LARC” program –which funnels public dollars to Planned Parenthood, as well as his opposition to the Hyde Amendment (until this year).
Ironically, the most intriguing primary race may have been in the 16th Senate District between incumbent Roslyn Dance, a staunch pro-choice supporter, who was upended by former Delegate and self-proclaimed pro-lifer Joe Morrissey. Though his past record doesn’t quite reflect his current “pro-life” rhetoric, it is interesting that he was able to win the primary with a position that is in stark contrast given his party’s progressive agenda on this issue. Of course, the race may have been more about a popularity contest as Morrissey was hardly a no-name challenger and carried a very flavorful past.
With the primaries behind us, no doubt the hot days of summer will be even hotter as the general election contests kick off into full swing. There is only one certainly this November - the General Assembly, notwithstanding the new district lines, will have a lot of new faces in both the House and the Senate who are filling vacancies left by retiring legislators. Here’s the list of retiring legislators whose seats will be filled with a new face in 2020:
Del. Dickie Bell (20th House District)
Del. Gordon Helsel (91st House District)
Del. Brenda Pogge (96th House District)
Del. Riley Ingram (62th House District)
Del. Matthew James (80th House District)
Del. David Toscano (57th House District)
Sen. Bill Carrico (40th Senate District)
Sen. Dick Black (13th Senate District)
Sen. Frank Wagner (7th Senate District)
Delegates Todd Pillon, Debra Rodman and Cheryl Turpin’s seats will also be filled with a new face now that they are running for the Senate this fall.
All of this shows how important it is for voters to be aware of their state legislators and what they will do if elected (or re-elected). A great way to learn more about your state Delegate and Senator is by reading The Family Foundation Action’s nonpartisan General Assembly Report Card, which shows you exactly how legislators voted on specific legislation that has a significant impact on families.
In addition to the Report Card, this fall we will also be distributing our non-partisan Voter Guides that compare the positions of candidates on important issues such as life, marriage, parental rights and religious liberty. Just like the Report Card, these Guides do not endorse or oppose any candidate or political party, but are meant to help voters learn more about where candidates stand on these important issues.
This is a critical election, with pro-life and pro-family policies hanging in the balance. Make no mistake, the ideological Left has already planned what they intend to accomplish if they have progressive-minded legislators elected into office. According to Blue Virginia, here are the progressive policies modeled after New York that they plan to advance here in Virginia:
Ratify the so-called Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”), which would enshrine abortion into the U.S. Constitution;
Pass strict anti-sexual harassment laws (which we now always worry about their initiatives involving “sexuality”);
Ban biologically affirming counseling, or so-called “conversion therapy,” for those struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions, as 14 other states have done;
Decriminalize marijuana for recreational use; and
Codify Roe v. Wade into state law, guaranteeing women’s “right” to an abortion even after the 24th week of pregnancy, up until birth.
This is only the start of what they’ll do if legislators without conservative, family values are elected to office.All of this is to implore you to remain engaged, and use this time to encourage neighbors and friends to support candidates that will uphold our sacred and deeply held values.