A Democratic candidate has filed to run for the House of Delegates in the 97th District, a conservative stronghold anchored in Hanover County, where Del. Chris Peace is in a chaotic fight for the Republican nomination.
New Kent County resident Kevin Washington, 37, filed this week to run as a Democrat. He is the only candidate to have formally signaled interest ahead of the party’s May 29 caucus to pick a candidate.
Washington faces an uphill climb in a district where President Donald Trump received 68 percent of the vote in 2016, while losing statewide to Democrat Hillary Clinton. Republican U.S. Senate candidate Corey Stewart received 65 percent of the vote in the district in 2018 while losing to Sen. Tim Kaine by 16 percentage points statewide.
This year, a heated GOP nomination fight between Peace and Hanover County Supervisor Scott Wyatt has resulted in intraparty animosity that has divided even the state’s top Republican leaders.
People are also reading…
Washington said he wants to focus on job creation and on expanding access to broadband in his district’s rural areas — issues he says will resonate with all voters. He said that the Republican nomination fight was not a factor in his decision to run.
“All three of the localities that are in the 97th are somewhat rural,” Washington said, referring to Hanover, New Kent and King William counties. “It’s important here that they have access to the best technology. That’s a key thing because it’s what I do for a living.”
An Army veteran, Washington now works for the Department of Defense in information technology as a cloud architect. He earned his bachelor’s degree from ITT Tech’s Richmond campus, and has a doctorate of business administration in information systems security from Capella University.
Washington is married and a father of three. He is originally from Tampa, Fla. He moved to Virginia in 2017 after retiring from the Army.
Peace was re-elected in 2017 with more than 72 percent of the vote, defeating Democrat Cori Elizabeth Johnson. It was the first time Peace had faced a Democratic opponent since 2006, when he edged Democrat J.W. Montgomery Jr. by 219 votes in a special election.
Trevor Southerland, the executive director of the House Democratic Caucus — and chair of the Democrats’ nominating committee in the 97th — said the deadline for other Democrats to signal interest in running is May 22, “but we don’t expect anyone else to file.”
“It’s a tough district but obviously the Republicans are having problems,” Southerland said. “It’s also a district that is quickly changing. We have seen growth in eastern Hanover, and from what I can tell it’s primarily Democrats moving into the area.”