The balance of power in the Virginia House of Delegates is 49 Dem/51 GOP. Since Virginia has off-year elections, the big one is actually this upcoming November.
The blue team has recruited a slew of top progressive candidates for 2019 to fight in multiple battle districts, but one that was not supposed to be competitive at all was VA House District 30. It’s red, rural, and since the 1990s, has been held by the GOP.
Enter GOP candidate Nick Freitas.
To make a long story short, the Department of Elections didn’t receive his election certification paperwork until long after the June 11 deadline, and it was missing pages. There were plenty of excuses, but bottom line, it wasn’t until three weeks later that Freitas sent a notarized form swearing he was eligible for office on July 1. Of course, that wasn’t accepted because that’s not how deadlines work.
Freitas has been lashing out on YouTube to “explain” what happened and complain that this is all some sort of Democratic conspiracy to keep him off the ballot. He blames the Democratic members of the State Board for their sinister plot to follow the rules, while completely ignoring the fact that the Elections Board is bipartisan and were unanimous in their decision that he doesn’t get a do-over.
Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper, may have lost his last chance to get on the ballot for re-election.
After a decision by the Virginia Department of Elections late last week, Freitas is almost out of options short of requesting a court get involved. Should he not make the ballot and be forced to run a write-in campaign, Democrats said they have chances of winning the seat in the fall, when they’re making a push to overturn the narrow GOP majority in the House.
Nick Freitas has tried all kinds of shenanigans, even withdrawing his candidacy only to be re-nominated. That not only failed but was expressly forbidden by the Virginia Code. Nick Freitas obviously didn’t care. This wouldn’t be the first time he thought the rules didn’t apply to him.
What makes matters worse for Nick is that his caucus isn’t too keen on helping him out, because he’s actually a bit of a tool who has ticked off quite a few people. Although he is an anti-education, pro-NRA extremist Trumpite, he is also overly ambitious and doesn’t care who he steps on. After his failed Senate bid last year, he decided to try to build a dynasty before going after Mark Warner’s Senate seat. Nick convinced his wife to run against a popular senator in the GOP primary for the 24th senate district. The strategy was for her to run far to his right since the incumbent voted to expand Medicaid for Virginians under the ACA.
Unfortunately for Nick, the Medicaid expansion was actually quite popular. Furthermore, his wife was not a particularly good candidate and got heat for being loose with facts while attacking her Republican opponent. She got her clock cleaned by well over 20 percentage points in the June primary, but the blatant power grab irritated the House leadership. Ironically, this occurred during the time that Nick Freitas should have been focusing on his own race—or at least calling to ensure his name was on the ballot.
As a result, the GOP House Speaker has been very quiet on this whole fiasco. I haven’t heard any GOP members getting behind Nick’s conspiracy theory. In fact, I’ve heard from a few sources that the VA GOP is so irritated with Freitas’ stupidity that they may just let him whither on the vine and try to get the seat back next time with someone who can do the most fundamental task in an election. After all, here are the facts:
- As it stands now, only the Democrat will have her name on the ballot for this race
- It will likely cost the GOP hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on a write-in campaign that they weren’t planning on spending
- This is already an extremely tough election year for the VA GOP, and they have already allocated which districts to focus on
Or, to put it another way: HA!
Now enter Ann Ridgeway.
Ann is the Democratic candidate. She was a top recruit even before this fiasco. She is a retired juvenile probation officer and former educator who lives on a 15-acre farm in Madison County, where she raised three children. Ann has deep ties to the area and has lived on her farm for over 40 years.
Ann knows the community well. While Nick is spending his time whining on social media trying to explain why he can’t figure out deadlines, Ann and her team of volunteers have been talking to voters about issues they care about, like rural broadband and red flag laws. Her campaign staff told me that the Madison County library internet has its highest usage at 4:30 am each weekday because that’s the time the parking lot fills up with people checking their emails before they head out to work. Internet and cell service are very hard to come by, which is an issue the current GOP incumbent has ignored.
A decades-long farmer, Ann has been a major advocate for keeping family farms and defending them against commercial conglomerate takeovers. She also supports the Medicaid expansion, which her future constituents depend on.
As a probation officer, she’s seen the devastation of families with suicide and domestic violence. She has pushed for red flag laws, which allows court order signed by a judge to temporarily remove weapons from someone who is suffering from mental illness. This has been a real problem in the district that I applaud her for tackling. Freitas is beholden to the NRA and has ignored this problem as well.
Another thing about Ann… She obviously knows how to fill out paperwork on time.
Now that Ann has a real shot in this race, the big guns are coming to help her. She’s been endorsed by the Democratic leadership. Senator Mark Warner has campaigned with her.
Ann doesn’t have deep pockets and she needs more volunteers to cover the wide swaths of land in her district, so I’ll put her campaign website, where you can learn more about her, below.
Remember that 2020 is the year that districts get redrawn, and Democrats have a tremendous opportunity to win the trifecta in Virginia:
- We have the governor’s mansion
- The VA Senate breakdown is 19 Dem/21 GOP
- Again, the VA House of Delegates is 49 Dem/51 GOP
We are so damn close, and the GOP just handed us a new battleground on a silver platter. With your help, we can do this thing!
This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.