Virginia’s 76th district has been represented by House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones (R-Suffolk) since 1998, but this year, he will face his first challenger in over a decade.
Democrat Clint Jenkins opted to jump into the race after a federal court ordered Virginia’s House of Delegates map to be redrawn in January. As a result of the court’s decision, Jones’ district is now 58% Democrat and will see 20,400 new voters added to the district’s voting rolls, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.
House Republicans have appealed the decision to create a new map and are awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. Until then, the state is proceeding based on the newly drawn districts.
Jenkins, a Suffolk-area real estate agent and chair of the Democratic Party for Virginia’s 3rd congressional district, is the lone Democrat running for the party’s nomination, and he will face an uphill battle in the general election. He got a late fundraising start, while Jones has $561,571 cash on hand and maintains the advantage of being a twenty-one year incumbent.
With Republicans holding a slim two-seat margin in the House and the new district maps putting several additional seats in play, Democrats are hoping to gain control of the chamber this November.
Candidates like Jenkins will be key to those efforts and Del. Rip Sullivan (D-Fairfax), the campaign chair for the House Democratic Caucus, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch that Jones’ seat is one of many that will be in play.