Jan. 26–Shifts in district lines in the state’s new legislative map mean the candidate who challenged a Republican incumbent in Newport News and lost in tie-breaker may have to move if she wants to run against him again in 2019.
The new map, which a federal judge panel picked earlier this week, moves between 370,000 and 436,000 voters to new districts, according to a Virginia Public Access Project analysis.
The Newport News School Board member and 94th District Democratic candidate Shelly Simonds is one of those voters.
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In 2017, she and the incumbent, Del. David Yancey, R-Newport News, received the same number of votes after a recount. The tie was broken when an election official pulled Yancey’s name out of a bowl, and the lawmaker retained his seat.
Under the new map, drawn by a court-appointed special master from California, Simonds’ neighborhood of Hilton Village shifts into Del. Cia Price’s 95th District.
People can still comment on the maps and file objections until Feb. 1, and House Republicans are set to argue in favor of the current map in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in a few months.
But if the new map is adopted as it currently stands and in place for the November elections, Simonds would have to move to run against Yancey again.
Simonds said over the phone she is keeping an eye on changes to the 94th District and is able to move accordingly.
"I’m really committed, and my family is committed, for me to continue to serve the 94th District and continue to be the candidate for the House of Delegates," she said.
Simonds called the new map sensible, compact, contiguous and an overall improvement for the city of Newport News. She said she was pleased it removed many of the split precincts that caused voter confusion in the past, especially the Lee Hall precinct, where voters may have been placed in the wrong districts in 2017.
"I think everyone has to keep in mind that these maps and these districts really belong to the people and they don’t belong to the delegates, they don’t belong to the candidates," she said.
The 94th District represents Central Newport News, and other local government districts like the police department consider Hilton Village part of that area.
Gretchen Heal, Yancey’s legislative aid, said it’s too early in the process for him to comment on the new map because it’s still in the court’s hands and parties have a chance to comment.
Marie Albiges, 757-247-4962, firstname.lastname@example.org, @Mariealbiges
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