House Call: And in Virginia Beach ...
Hello politicos! And welcome to another installation of House Call. We haven't spent much time outside of Gotham this election season (that would be Northern Virginia), but today we're going to travel to the other urban powerhouse of Virginia electoral politics -- Hampton Roads.
Two House races in particular are shaping up to be quite competitive this year. Both seats are in Virginia Beach, and both are currently held by first-term Democrats. One is R.W. "Bobby" Mathieson of the 21st District, a longtime Virginia Beach city police officer who unseated Republican John J. Welch III in 2007. Mathieson faces Virginia Beach City Council member Ron A. Villanueva.
The other Democratic incumbent fighting for survival at the Beach is Joe F. Bouchard of the 83rd District, a former Naval commander who is in a rematch against Republican Chris P. Stolle, an obstetrician and brother of soon-to-retire state Sen. Kenneth W. Stolle. Bouchard beat Chris Stolle in 2007 in an open-seat contest to replace Republican Leo C. Wardrup Jr., who retired.
So here's what's interesting about these races.
1) Bouchard won by a hair two years ago, beating Stolle by just 131 votes. Mathieson won more handily, with 57 percent of the vote. But both Democrats had the political winds at their back at a time when then-President Bush's approval ratings were very low and anger over the Iraq war was high. This year, the winds have shifted and the historical Republican-leaning nature of these districts gives the challengers a lift.
2) Bouchard carried a financial advantage over Stolle as of Aug. 31; he had $68,000 on hand compared to Stolle's $26,000. But since then, Stolle has received more than $230,000 from the Republican State Leadership Committee, according to the nonpartisan Virginia Public Access Project. Mathieson had $86,000 in the bank at the end of August; Villanueva had $15,000.
3) First-term incumbents are always vulnerable. They don't have much record, they don't have much name recognition, yet they must fight the negative imagery often associated with incumbency.
4) Virginia Beach is Robert F. McDonnell's hometown, the community he represented in the House of Delegates for 14 years. It's also the city that has elected Ken Stolle to the state Senate since 1991; Ken Stolle is on the ballot this year to become the city's next sheriff. Both those names give down-ballot Republicans a coat-tailing advantage.
October 7, 2009; 3:01 PM ET
Categories: Amy Gardner , Election 2009 , General Assembly 2009
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