Some have wondered if the now open 69th House seat, comprised mainly of South Richmond (and a precinct or two in Chesterfield County), now open because of long-time Democrat Frank Hall’s resignation to accept an ABC judgeship, will have a Republican candidate this November (see Tertium Quids here, which also discusses the likely Democrat candidate). It is a majority-minority district, although Hall, who is white, has been able to hold the seat for some time. The likely new Democrat nominee will be black. But there are a few signs this part of Richmond is dissatisfied with the status quo. So, can a Republican — a black Republican — who’s a successful professional, with a hard-working ethic, and ties to the community, connect with the electorate there for an open seat?
Last night, in Alexandria, in fact, a GOP-backed independent, Alicia Hughes, who is black, as well as GOP nominee Frank Fannon IV, won city council seats in a shocking upsets of Democrat incumbents (see Peter Roff of Fox Forums, here). A significant issue was the Democrat majority (there have been no Republicans on Alexandria’s City Council for years) raising property taxes without pause, even as home values decreased.
For weeks now, there has been an all-but-official black Republican interested in running for the 69th House District, but at his request we’ve kept it quiet until he made it official. However, today, with the release of an e-mail by the Richmond City unit chairman and the launch of a Web site, it’s pretty much official that financial services professional Ernesto Sampson will give it a go.
It won’t be easy by any means — some party regulars on both sides shy away from running candidates in districts dominated by the opposite party because they are afraid of generating turn out of marginal party-line voters which can hurt other candidates on the ticket. Will typical party-line voting hold sway this year, no matter the issues or candidates?
It will be interesting, at the very least, to see if Sampson can make a compelling case in a strongly Democrat area, as Republicans have in Northern Virginia recently, including last night’s stunners in equally urban and liberal Alexandria (see Washington Post Virginia Politics Blog). It will be equally interesting to see if he can do it on a strongly innovative and conservative platform.