Delegate Sally Hudson (D-Charlottesville) announced her campaign for Senate District 11 on Monday, pitting her against Senator Creigh Deeds (D-Bath). That sets up a dynamic of a progressive challenger against a more moderate Democrat incumbent that is likely to typify the 2023 Virginia State Senate Democratic primaries, according to CNalysis Executive Director Chaz Nuttycombe.
“The Dems aren’t as united as they were back in the Trump era or even in 2021. So I think the left sees the opportunities they can make this year, especially with redistricting, because if not now, when,” Nuttycombe told The Virginia Star.
“It’s smart for them to kind of make this play in 2023, because this is the first time these lines are going to be used and you want to get after the more center-left incumbents and center-left candidates and prevent them from winning before they have an incumbency advantage under the new lines,” he said.
Nuttycombe said Hudson’s race against Deeds reminds him of her first run for office. Then-Minority Leader David Toscano chose to retire instead of face Hudson in a primary when she was backed by funds from progressive mega donors Michael Bills, Sonjia Smith, and Clean Virginia, funded by Bills.
“So I’m kind of wondering if Michael Bills is going to let history rhyme with itself and get behind Sally Hudson in this primary in trying to get Deeds out,” Nuttycombe said.
On Monday, Blue Virginia reported that Clean Virginia will stay neutral in the race.
SD-11 is a safe-Democratic seat, with estimates showing voters supported Democratic candidates by more than 15-point margins in recent elections, according to The Virginia Public Access Project. Nuttycombe said redistricting made Deeds more vulnerable by removing some of the counties bordering West Virginia.
“Whether he can win Charlottesville against the progressive sweetheart of the area would be kind of where I think would be the most concern for him,” he said.
Hudson is a labor economist at the University of Virginia, and has brought her expertise to the Virginia capitol, debating Republicans, including a 2022 debate with Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) over minimum wage increases. As a senator, Deeds focuses on mental health policy after his son’s tragic suicide. In 2022, Deeds led Senate Democrats in their blockade of Governor Glenn Youngkin’s attempt to appoint former Trump EPA Chief Andrew Wheeler to be Virginia’s Secretary of Natural Resources.
Deeds’ Twitter bio confirms his candidacy for the race.
“The midterms may be over, but Virginia has elections every year. Excited to share that I’m running for the State Senate in 2023,” Hudson said in her Twitter announcement. “The Blue Ridge has a brand new Senate seat, and voters have a chance to choose what they want in their next state reps.”
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Eric Burk is a reporter at The Virginia Star and The Star News Network. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Sally Hudson” by Sally Hudson. Photo “Creigh Deeds” by Creigh Deeds. Background Photo “U.S. Capitol” by Proulain.