WINCHESTER — The blue wave that washed over the Virginia General Assembly in Tuesday’s election didn’t reach the Winchester region.
The area’s three incumbent Republican legislators – Sen. Jill Vogel of Upperville, Del. Chris Collins of Frederick County and Del. Dave LaRock of Hamilton — kept their seats. The lone Democratic incumbent, Del. Wendy Gooditis of Clarke County, also was re-elected.
Vogel, who has represented the 27th Senate District since 2008, won another four-year term by handily defeating Democrat Ronnie Ross, 43,419 votes (64.22%) to 24,122 (35.60%). The 27th District includes Winchester; Clarke, Frederick and Fauquier counties, and parts of Loudoun, Culpeper and Stafford counties.
Gooditis bested Republican Randy Minchew, who was trying to win back the 10th District House of Delegates seat he held from 2012-18. Gooditis received 16,047 votes (52.41%) to Minchew’s 14,553 (47.53%). This will be Gooditis’s second two-year term. Her district covers parts of Clarke, Frederick and Loudoun counties.
Collins, who has represented the 29th House District since 2016, defeated Democrat Irina Khanin, 15,530 votes (64.88%) to 8,391 (35.05%). The 29th District encompasses Winchester and parts of Frederick and Warren counties.
In the 33rd House District, LaRock beat Democrat Mavis Taintor, 17,664 votes (56.76%) to 13,425 (43,14%). His district includes parts of Clarke, Frederick and Loudoun counties.
With the Democratic takeover of the General Assembly, Vogel hopes legislators don’t repeal Virginia’s status as a right-to-work state, which says employees can’t be forced to join a labor union.
She said the General Assembly needs to be mindful of the “high stakes” in Virginia’s economy, noting that it’s doing well but it’s a “fragile environment.”
“My hope is cooler heads will prevail,” said Vogel, an attorney who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2017 against Democrat Justin Fairfax.
Ross, Vogel’s opponent who teaches English at a private school in Warrenton, said on Wednesday that he was glad to see such high voter turnout in an off-election year, and he’s proud to have provided voters a choice. Vogel ran unopposed in 2015.
Ross said he has no immediate plans to run for office again. He does plan to hold legislators accountable for voting on policies that benefit the environment, expand healthcare and rural broadband access as well as increase education funding.
Now that Democrats have control of the General Assembly, Gooditis said she is determined to work on passing gun safety legislation, environmental protections, education funding, protections for children, passing the Equal Rights Amendment and gradually raising the minimum wage to $15.
She said while there are concerns that the General Assembly will undergo an extreme political swing with a Democratic majority, she doesn’t want to see that happen.
“We want to see all Virginians,” said Gooditis, a former teacher who works in real estate. “We have to be careful.”
Minchew did not return calls seeking comment.
Collins, who also could not be reached, is serving on an Interstate 81 commission to find additional money to make improvements to the roadway. An attorney, he is an advocate for workforce development.
His Democratic opponent, Khanin — an attorney who immigrated from the Soviet Union 30 years ago — campaigned for more education funding, mental health resources and better broadband internet access, among other issues.
She said she was pleased that she carried the Winchester vote, where she received 3,281 votes to Collins’ 2,997.
LaRock said he was happy with Tuesday’s voter turnout, but he was disappointed to see Democrats take control of the state legislature.
He said his focus moving forward will be on transportation and infrastructure. But under a Democrat majority, he believes the General Assembly will likely raise the minimum wage and repeal its right-to-work law.
Changes will also probably come regarding laws supporting gun control and abortion rights, he said.
“I will do whatever I can to resist moving in the wrong direction,” said LaRock, who is a construction contractor.
Taintor, a former Wall Street executive, banker and teacher, did not return calls seeking comment. Her campaign platform included increasing broadband internet service in rural areas and Virginia’s endorsement of the Equal Rights Amendment.