Come June 9, voters in the 79th House of Delegates district will take to the polls to choose their representative.
OK – so that’s technically not true since 6/9 is the date of the primary. But it is effectively true.
Take a look at this:
Let’s be honest – a Republican can’t win this seat unless the Democrat is caught with the proverbial dead-girl/live-boy. So the primary on June 9 is the election. There’s not even another candidate in the race, Republican or otherwise.
I don’t live in the 79th so, thankfully, I don’t have to decide between the two men, both of whom I know and like. The incumbent, Johnny Joannou, faces opposition from former Portsmouth council member Steve Heretick for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which being that Joannou doesn’t support Medicaid expansion. I’ve talked to Johnny about this specifically – and, in truth, I do not understand why he doesn’t support it. His concern is for the budget, a position I find curious, especially given how hard Johnny has worked over the years to expand the number of Medicaid waivers.
The challenge by Steve is probably the toughest Johnny has ever faced. Steve is, in his own right, a known quantity in Portsmouth. Note that Portsmouth makes up almost 77% of the district. The last serious challenger to Joannou came from the Norfolk sliver of the district – and even Mark Warner’s support couldn’t overcome the love Portsmouth has for Johnny.
I’ve said it before: Johnny is an old school Democrat, from what the membership looked like before a bunch of them left and joined the Republican Party. He’s a fiscal conservative and is coming around on the social issues, a situation I attribute more to his age than his party. But anyone paying attention knew that a challenge had to come after the Medicaid expansion thing.
Which is why I tried to get word to the governor to appoint Johnny to some position, one that would allow him to move on gracefully. (The governor and I don’t talk.) I wasn’t the only one who tried to do this, not that it mattered. I understand the answer was no – on both the governor’s part and Johnny’s: the governor wouldn’t offer and Johnny wouldn’t accept, even if he did. Both of them are what my Mama would call hard-headed.
What a waste of resources.
So come June 9, some of the voters – far too few – will elect their representative to the House.
At least they get to vote. I’m in the 83rd – with only one name on the ballot.