Spending in 13 Virginia Senate races topped $1 million as Republicans and Democrats battled for control of the chamber, while the number of seven-figure races dropped sharply in the Republican-dominated House, according to a Virginia Public Access Project analysis.
VPAP, a nonpartisan tracker of money in politics, produced the analysis Thursday, the deadline for General Assembly candidates to file campaign finance reports.
If the phrases “phase them out,” “hard work,” and “running away from Barack Obama” sound familiar then it’s a pretty good bet you watched programming aired on one of the regions four network television stations over the past few months.
One of the less obvious consequences of Tuesday's legislative elections was the step they represented toward the extinction of an increasingly rare breed of Virginia politician: the rural Democrat.
For the first time in 12 years, state Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Russell County, faced a Republican challenger at the polls and emerged victorious — but only just.
Puckett, who has held the 38th Senate District seat since 1999, secured his fourth full Senate term against newcomer Adam Light, of Tazewell County, by a margin of about 6 percentage points, with 110 of 112 precincts reporting. Puckett claimed victory at 9:45 p.m., according to campaign manager Trey Nix.
Democrat Phillip P. Puckett held onto the 38th District Senate seat Tuesday, fighting off a fierce challenge from Adam N. Light, a Tazewell County Republican and tea party activist.
Puckett, who won his fourth four-year term, had a 6 percentage point lead over Light, according to unofficial totals late Tuesday.
An expected low turnout of voters today will pick the winners in a $13 million race for 26 contested seats in the Virginia state Senate.
Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
Surprises await some voters, because redistricting may have put unfamiliar names on their ballots. All area localities except Lynchburg have contested races for some local offices.
Top Virginia Democrats rallied before an enthusiastic crowd at George Mason University on Monday in a final push before Tuesday’s elections, where the party will try to prevent a Republican monopoly from controlling Richmond just three years after the state swung blue.
“The last thing we need to do is turn Richmond and make it more like Washington,” said Sen. Mark R. Warner, calling the state Senate a “bulwark” that has counted good Democrats and good Republicans among its members.
After redrawing Virginia's state Senate districts to their liking and pumping millions of dollars into races to protect targeted incumbents, Democrats face a tough challenge Tuesday keeping their slim Senate majority.
Only three Democrats are uncontested in seeking Senate re-election while 11 Republicans have no opponent. Seventeen Democratic incumbents have challengers, while only four sitting Republican senators have opponents.
After millions of dollars in spending by political parties and campaign committees, an avalanche of attack ads and slick mail brochures, and appeals from the state's most visible politicians, Virginia voters will decide Tuesday which party controls the state Senate for the next four years.
All 140 seats in the General Assembly are up for election in redrawn districts that lawmakers approved earlier this year.
Virginia Republicans need to capture three more seats in the state Senate on Tuesday to win a majority there and cement their control of state government. Here's a look at the most closely watched Senate races.