FAIRFAX COUNTY, Va. — Democratic challenger Dan Helmer defeated Republican incumbent Del. Tim Hugo Tuesday, according to initial projections provided by the Associated Press.
The victory signaled Democratic strength in a closely-contested district, where Hugo currently serves as the only Republican House member representing Northern Virginia.
Helmer will now represent Virginia’s 40th House District, encompassing parts of Fairfax and Prince William counties. Helmer is a West Point graduate and Rhodes Scholar, who rose to prominence during a run for Congress in 2017.
Virginia Democrats sent a blue wave surging across the commonwealth and into Richmond’s Capitol Square two years ago -- a cautionary crescendo for Republicans in the first year of the Trump administration.
Another Democratic wave could deliver a more dire message for Republicans in Richmond this year, as control of Mr. Jefferson’s Capitol now hangs in the balance.
Contests in Northern Virginia could tip the balance of power, putting control of the state legislature and governor’s office in Democratic hands for the first time since 1993.
The state-wide election will undoubtedly serve as a referendum on President Trump, as the commonwealth’s fortunes become increasingly tied to the politics across the Potomac.
What would Democrats need to do to begin a new era in Richmond? Win only a handful of seats in Tuesday’s off-year election.
Democrats would need to flip two seats in the House of Delegates and one seat in the Senate for Virginia to become the only Southern state under Democratic control of the executive and legislative branches.
The race between Hugo and Helmer served as one of the pivotal Virginia races to watch within sight of Washington.
Hugo is the third-highest ranking Republican in the House of Delegates, serving in the lower chamber for the past 16 years.
The Helmer campaign had its hopes inextricably linked with the area’s demographic trends marching towards a more diverse electorate.
Helmer’s name recognition has been in the public sphere since unconventional campaign ads channeled “Top Gun” during the 2017-2018 primary contest to face then-Congresswoman Barbara Comstock.
Helmer’s military service from Afghanistan to South Korea has now taken center stage, along with business and Oxford credentials.
A second race garnering attention is the fight to fill the vacancy left by Republican State Sen. Dick Black – a Marine Corps veteran who voiced adamant support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Republican Loudoun County Supervisor Geary Higgins faces Democratic Del. John Bell for Black’s seat. The position they hope to fill represents Loudoun and Prince William in Virginia’s 13th Senate District.
Higgins is an unabashed Trump supporter, with an endorsement straight from the president’s Twitter account. Bell is a 26-year Air Force veteran, fresh off serving two terms in the House of Delegates.