Jockeying in the 6th Senate underway

6th Senate DistrictThe Virginian-Pilot‘s Julian Walker reports today on the race behind the race in the 6th Senate district. The jockeying began almost from the time that current occupant, Ralph Northam, announced his run for lieutenant governor. (Some of the potential candidates had started even earlier.)

From the article (paywall):

Potential candidates on the GOP side include attorney and past political candidate John Coggeshall, commercial freight executive B. Wayne Coleman, former congresswoman Thelma Drake, commercial litigation lawyer Richard Ottinger and civil engineer John W. Salm III.


Among Democrats, Eastern Shore Del. Lynwood Lewis, former Del. Paula Miller of Norfolk and Northam campaign treasurer Andria McClellan are laying the groundwork.


Coleman and McClellan have filed placeholder campaign paperwork with state election officials

On the Republican side, Salm is one that I hadn’t heard before. Drake would be a strong candidate – but I don’t know if she’s going to run. A Governor Terry McAuliffe could potentially take her out of the running by reappointing her to her current position as director of the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transit.  Another wrinkle in the Drake thing is that my sources tell me she recruited Ottinger to run, even though the rank and file seems to be behind Coleman.

Missing from the Republican list is another rumored candidate: Tricia Stall. You remember her: she upset incumbent Marty Williams in the 1st Senate district primary in 2007, and then was defeated by John Miller in the general election. I understand she has moved into the district and is considering a run.

The three named Democrats are the only ones I’ve heard of – so far. The 6th Senate district is a big one.

I believe Northam will win in November, setting up a very short – and costly – campaign for his seat. Democrats have to bring their A game to hang on in this district where Obama won by 15 and Kaine by 16. Republicans are going to throw nearly everything they have into trying to win the seat. Both sides understand what’s at stake here: control of the senate. Winning Northam’s seat would be a silver lining for the Republicans, making the LG loss an easier pill to swallow.


10 thoughts on “Jockeying in the 6th Senate underway

  1. I can’t see how Lynwood Lewis loses this seat if he runs, and given how much money he raised post-primary, I would be surprised if he wouldn’t run. To win, a Republican has to run up the score on the Eastern Shore and Mathews County and keep Norfolk within single digits (even Deeds won the Norfolk portion of this district in 2009). With Lewis on the ballot I don’t see how any Republican could even win the Eastern Shore, let alone get a good margin out of it. With Miller or the other woman it might be doable, though still an uphill climb.

  2. One big question is just how short the special election cycle will be. If Northam and Mark Herring both win, Republicans will begin the January session with a 2-seat Senate majority and no incentive to fill either of those districts quickly. The decision on election date will be solely Bob McDonnell’s, and I don’t believe the code imposes any timetable on him.

    1. McDonnell may be tempted to delay the election date but I’d be really surprised if he did. Seems to me he and the Republicans would want as short a date as possible, because low turnout usually benefits them.

      1. Typically special elections are held before the start of the GA session and according to the state code, they cannot be held within 55 days of a general election. Given that Norfolk holds municipal elections in May that basically means it will happen in early January, just like every other special election for a GA seat, where the incumbent moved up, in recent memory. Jeff McWaters was elected Jan 12, 2010 and the session started the next day.

  3. I think it is important to note that 58% of the 6th Senate District’s registered voters are in Norfolk. The vote turnout in a special elections are traditionally higher in urban areas than rural.

  4. Vivian, do you think Lynwood Lewis is the early favorite for this race? Or do you see someone else winning it. It seems he has a solid base of support because he is so popular on the ES.

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