RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Supreme Court of Virginia has selected two outside experts from a pool of nominees put forward by lawmakers to help it complete its task of drawing new legislative districts to conform with the 2020 census.
The court unanimously appointed Sean Trende and Bernard Grofman to serve as special masters for the preparation of proposed redistricting maps, according to an order issued Friday.
Trende, an elections analyst at RealClearPolitics, was nominated by Republicans. He also has a law degree, has provided expert testimony in elections lawsuits around the country and was appointed as a Voting Rights Act expert by Arizona’s redistricting commission, according to his resume. Grofman, nominated by Democrats, is a professor of political science and economics at the University of California, Irvine. He has a degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in political science and has previously worked on map-drawing efforts in Virginia.
The two will have no more than 30 days to work together to come up with a single set of maps for the House of Delegates, Senate of Virginia, and Virginia’s U.S. House districts. The court will then review those maps.
The court has taken on the task of redistricting under a new law approved by voters in a 2020 referendum.
The law created a bipartisan redistricting commission that was supposed to submit new maps to the state legislature for approval. But the commission failed to sign off on a single one, with Democrats and Republicans on the commission evenly divided on almost every proposal that came before them.
The court’s role in the process is being watched closely now. Democrats who opposed the 2020 referendum had argued that the court leans Republican and that the maps would reflect a GOP bias.
The court said in its order Friday that any disputes between Trende and Grofman must be resolved by “good-faith efforts” to find a compromise.
“Though each was nominated by legislative leaders of a particular political party, the nominees — upon being appointed by this Court as Special Masters — shall serve as officers of the Court in a quasi-judicial capacity. Consequently, the Special Masters shall be neutral and shall not act as advocates or representatives of any political party,” the order said.
The two are prohibited from consulting with any political parties, partisan organizations or outside experts.
The order said Trende and Grofman could accept their appointments by executing an agreement with the court. It wasn’t immediately clear if either had taken that step. A spokeswoman for the court didn’t respond to an inquiry seeking comment.
Their selection was delayed by criticism from Republicans and Democrats over the other party’s nominees. Last week, the court told Republicans to submit three new nominees following the Democrats’ complaints that the initial batch was too partisan. The court also rejected one of the three nominees put forward by Democrats.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia officials certified the results of the Nov. 2 election on Monday, giving Republicans a two-seat majority in the House of Delegates. But two races where Republicans are leading by razor-thin margins are eligible for recounts, leaving open a remote possibility of a 50-50 split in the chamber.
The certified results show Republicans with a 52-48 majority over Democrats.
The Associated Press hasn’t called the two races that are within the margins for recounts: District 91, where Republican A.C. Cordoza leads Democratic Del. Martha Mugler by 94 votes out of 27,388 votes counted; and District 85, where Republican Karen Greenhalgh leads Democratic Del. Alex Askew by 127 votes out of 28,413 votes counted. The margin in both races is under 0.5%, which allows losing candidates to request state-funded recounts.
Mugler and Askew have not said yet whether they intend to seek recounts. Spokespersons for the candidates did not immediately respond to text and voicemail messages left by The Associated Press on Monday.
Department of Elections Commissioner Chris Piper told a Richmond civic group last week that recounts are unlikely to change the outcomes of the races because of the size of the margins.
“We conducted a safe, secure and incredibly smooth election,” Piper told the Board of Elections just before it voted 5-0 to certify the election results.
If Republicans hold onto districts 85 and 91, they will control the House, 52-48, and complete an elections sweep in which they also reclaimed the offices of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. The state Senate has a slim 21-19 Democratic majority, with elections scheduled for 2023.
Democrats conceded control of the House to Republicans several days after the election, but tempered that concession after it became clear that the 85th and 91st districts appeared headed for recounts.
Republicans have repeatedly said they are confident the recount will not change the results of either race and that they will control the House when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
Recounts in Virginia are not automatic. Under state law, a candidate cannot request a recount until the results are officially certified by the State Board of Elections.
If Mugler and Askew file petitions, a “recount court” of three judges would oversee the recounts. It is unclear how long the process would take, but in 2017, when partisan control of the House came down to a pivotal Hampton Roads seat, the recount was not held until late December.
The Republican victories are seen in part as a backlash against a series of progressive reforms that the former Democratic majority pushed through over the past two years, making Virginia an outlier in the South. Those included repealing the death penalty, loosening abortion restrictions and legalizing marijuana.
Democrats held a 55-45 majority in the House heading into the election.
FALLS CHURCH, VA. (AP) — The Supreme Court of Virginia, now tasked with drawing new legislative districts in the state to conform with the 2020 census, has told Republicans to submit three new nominees to help it in its task amid complaints that they are too partisan.
In a unanimous ruling signed by the chief justice, Donald Lemons, the court said the nominees “must be neutral and must not act as advocates or representatives of any political party.”
Democrats had objected to the three nominees put forth by Republicans, saying all three had a history of partisanship that was disqualifying. Republican legislative leaders defended their nominees and said Democrats’ objections were “a media and mud-slinging attack meant to dirty the process before it even starts.”
The court’s order outright disqualifies one of the three nominees and expresses that the other two have similar conflicts. The order requires Republicans to come up with at least three more nominees by Monday.
The court also rejected one of the three nominees put forward by Democrats. The ruling said that nominee had cited his own reservations about working under the process set forth under Virginia law. Democrats were told to submit at least one more name by Monday.
The task of redistricting for the Virginia General Assembly and the state’s congressional delegation has fallen to the court under a new law approved by voters in a 2020 referendum.
The law created a bipartisan redistricting commission that was supposed to submit new maps to the state legislature for approval. But the commission failed to sign off on a single map, with Democrats and Republicans on the commission evenly divided on almost every proposal that came before them.
The court’s role in the process is being watched closely now that the duties have been shifted to them. Democrats who opposed the 2020 referendum had argued that the court leans Republican and that the maps would reflect a GOP bias.
In its order Friday, the court took pains to emphasize that it wants to keep the process as free from partisanship as possible. It said the special masters it selects “will not be permitted to consult with any political parties, partisan organizations, outside experts, or any other person or entity except for their personal support staff and individuals specifically authorized by this Court.”
Once the court receives a list of nominees it considers acceptable, it will appoint one special master from each side, who will then be given 30 days to work together and come up with a single set of maps for the court to review.
An earlier version of this story said all three GOP nominees were rejected. The court’s order only explicitly disqualifies one nominee and expresses concerns about the other two.
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Armaan Franklin scored 21 points, Jayden Gardner had 18 and No. 25 Virginia rediscovered its offense after a season-opening embarrassment, beating Radford 73-52 on Friday night.
The Cavaliers (1-1), who were beaten 66-58 by Navy on Tuesday night, used a 24-5 first-half burst to take a 32-15 lead. They held the Highlanders without a point for five minutes and never let their lead shrink below 15 after that.
Franklin, a transfer from Indiana, went 5 for 8 from 3-point range, endearing himself to Virginia fans after making 1 of 7 3s in the opener. Coach Tony Bennett said Franklin was ill during the Navy game.
“I felt like I took the Navy loss really hard just for me because I felt like I didn’t do my job to the best of my ability. And when I don’t do that, I feel like I’m letting people down,” Franklin said, adding that he was tense in his debut.
“Tonight I was a lot more relaxed, played free,” he said.
Added Virginia reserve Carson McCorkle: “I expected that from him to come back from that. I hadn’t seen him shoot it that bad since I’ve known him, since he’s been here. So every shot he took tonight looked good and looked like it was going in. And that’s the Armaan we know, so I didn’t expect anything less.”
Bryan Hart led Radford (1-1) with 12 points, but the Highlanders shot 38% and committed 15 turnovers that Virginia turned into 19 points. They also were outscored 24-6 from the free-throw line and had four players with four fouls.
Franklin didn’t surprise the Highlanders.
“We knew who he was,” said first-year coach Darrius Nichols, who came from Florida and said the Gators recruited Franklin. “We knew what he could do.”
Gardner, a transfer from East Carolina, grabbed seven rebounds.
It was the first meeting between the in-state schools since the 2010 season.
Radford: The Highlanders hit their first two 3-point tries, a hot start that resembled Navy’s. But Virginia didn’t wait until the second half to tighten up this time and had lots of hands in passing lanes, disrupting everything Radford tried to get going.
Virginia: The Cavaliers led 41-21 at the half and might have won by a larger margin had they not gotten away from their methodical offensive approach and started running with the Highlanders early in the second half.
Among the things to work on? Turnovers against the press and rebounding.
“You know, we got some decent looks, some 3s early and missed a couple. But no, the second half was not as sharp as the first half, but there were still some things to build on in it,” Bennett said.
Radford: At Virginia Tech on Monday night.
Virginia: At No. 15 Houston on Tuesday night. The Cougars made the Final Four last season, and Bennett glanced at a television when he was asked about the matchup. He could only laugh at the halftime score of Houston’s game.
“Forty-four to 15, I see. They’re up against Rice. Timing’s perfect,” Bennett said.
Houston went on to win 79-45 on Friday night.
FALLS CHURCH, Va. (AP) — Winsome Sears says voters learned where she stands as she made history campaigning to become the first Black woman elected to statewide office in Virginia.
But Sears may be less known for her policy positions than for a campaign photo showing the 57-year-old former Marine posing with a military rifle. The image launched the Republican from political obscurity after a nearly 20-year absence from elected office to win the GOP’s nomination for lieutenant governor, and she completed her comeback in November as Republicans swept Virginia’s top offices.
Those who know her say Sears is more than a gun-toting caricature — they point to her willingness to buck her own party at times, and her dedication to school choice and other conservative education priorities. The photo grabbed attention, but she held it with an engaging, almost stream-of-consciousness speaking style, firing up the crowds for her ticket mate Glenn Youngkin, now the governor-elect.
She had one-liners ready for the press as well. When asked about her pro-gun stance after the votes were counted, she told a local television station: “Harriet Tubman carried a gun and if it was good for her, then it was good for me too.”
Having won 51% to 49% over Democratic state Del. Hala Ayala, who as a Black Hispanic also would have made history, Sears is ready to pivot again, from speechifying to governing.
“Actions speak louder than words,” Sears said in an interview with The Associated Press. “And that’s why I couldn’t wait until we got to the end. So that I can really show the people that I mean to do right. That I’m not just using flowery language.”
The word that best describes Sears is “authentic,” according to Chris Braunlich, who served with her on Virginia’s board of education a decade ago. She had little tolerance for local school superintendents who made excuses for their students’ poor performance, he said.
“When you tell me that I’m a victim … how? Tell me how,” she said in one campaign speech in which she emphasized, as she often does, the progress that’s been made over the decades in American race relations. “Everything I’ve had, I’ve had to work for. Everything.”
Sears has embraced President Donald Trump, serving as co-chair of a group called Black Americans to Re-elect President Trump, and defending him against charges of racism. Still, she has taken action when she believes Republicans fall short on racial issues.
In 2018, she launched a write-in campaign for U.S. Senate when Corey Stewart, whose campaign had links to white supremacists and used the Confederate flag as a prop, won the GOP nomination.
“The Republican Party never saluted the Confederate flag, did not fight under the Confederate flag … and he is our candidate, our nominee?” she said at the time. “He does not represent the party of Lincoln. … He is not a true Republican.”
When she is sworn in in January, she will be the first woman in the post, which is considered part time but often is a launching pad for future governors. Five of the past 10 lieutenant governors in Virginia have gone on to serve as governor.
Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, the nation’s first African American elected governor, said Sears has an independent streak that has served her well.
“She’s experienced, and she’s shown she’s someone who’s willing to listen, and willing to learn,” said Wilder, a Democrat, who met with Sears during the campaign and has agreed to serve on Youngkin’s transition team.
Wilder, now a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, had been a lieutenant governor as well. He found the post to be a surprisingly sturdy platform for advancing an agenda, because it provides many opportunities to speak in front of influential audiences.
“You can define your issues,” he said.
Presiding over the Senate is one of the lieutenant governor’s key duties but the job could be more than ceremonial for Sears since Republicans not only won the governor’s mansion, but also reclaimed a majority in the House of Delegates.
That leaves the 21-19 Senate as Democrats’ last bastion of power, with Sears poised to cast tie-breaking votes whenever a single Democrat can be lured to the Republican side.
Democrats are particularly concerned about her strong anti-abortion record. Ayala repeatedly warned voters that the Senate is essentially split 20-20 on the issue, with Democratic Sen. Joe Morrissey having voted against some legislation to expand abortion rights.
Sears said voters heard that pitch as Ayala more than doubled her fundraising, and rejected it.
Voters “cared about the bread-and-butter issues that are facing them,” she said. Sears pointed out that she would allow abortions in cases of rape or incest and to save a pregnant woman’s life or health. Asked if she would like any changes to abortion in Virginia, she was noncommittal, saying only, “Let me see about that.”
Sears represented Hampton Roads in the legislature for a single term two decades ago, sponsoring legislation against KKK-style cross burnings and squabbling with the Legislative Black Caucus, where she was the only Republican.
While absent from electoral politics, she was appointed to the Veterans Administration, the Census Bureau and the state school board and ran a plumbing and electrical supply company in the Winchester area. She said she moved there to provide a better environment for one of her daughters, DeJon Williams, who had mental health problems. Williams and her two daughters died in a car crash in 2012 after witnesses reported her speed exceeded 100 mph.
“I’m reminded that God gave us the ability to grieve, he gave us tears for a reason,” she told The Winchester Star in 2012.
Sears speaks frequently about her faith, writing a book titled “Stop Being a Christian Wimp!” long before she re-entered politics. She also led a prison Bible study.
Vinson Palathingal, a GOP activist from Fairfax County and an early supporter, said the party should have promoted her more prominently.
“Expanding the tent is something I’m working on, and that is exactly what Winsome is talking about,” he said as he handed out sample ballots.
Sears argues that lower taxes, school choice and opposition to abortion have more appeal among minorities than conventional political wisdom allows.
“We’re going to need new voters if we’re going to win,” she said in a GOP podcast earlier this year. “You know where we’re going to get them from? The only place: the Democrats. They’re in the Democratic Party, they’re conservatives, and they don’t even know it.”
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – Democratic Del. Kelly Convirs-Fowler has been reelected tothe Virginia House in one of three races that had remained uncalled more than a week after the election. The Associated Press on Wednesday called the 21stDistrict race for Convirs-Fowler. She withstood a strong challenge from Republican Tanya Gould, a human trafficking survivor and community advocate. Thevictory puts the total number of seats won by Democrats at 48. Republicans have won 50 seats and hold narrow leads in two other races that remain uncalled. Convirs-Fowler is a former elementary school teacher. She was first elected in 2017 by defeating a Republican who had held the seat for eight years.
WOODBRIDGE, Va. (AP) — Two young men were killed in a shootout inside a northern Virginia home, authorities said. Police were still looking Saturday for what officers consider a suspect who fled the scene.
Joseph James Harden and Zhabriell Antoine Perkins, both 20 and from Woodbridge, died Friday at the residence in Woodbridge, according to the Prince William County Police Department.
The shootings happened late in the morning when police said Perkins and another intruder forcibly entered the home and gunfire was exchanged. Inside the residence was Harden, a 59-year-old woman who was the homeowner, and two other men working on the house, a police news release said.
One of the workers also was shot and received a non-life-threatening injury. The homeowner and the other worker weren’t injured.
The disturbance wasn’t random, according to the news release, with Harden believed to be the target.
Police haven’t located the second intruder, whom they say fled on foot to a sport utility vehicle.
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) — Robin Reed, news anchor at WDBJ-TV, was honored on Saturday with The Associated Press Robert Gallimore Distinguished Service Award during the presentation of the 2020 Virginias Associated Press Broadcasters Awards.
Winners were announced at the awards banquet and annual membership meeting at The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Reed’s career with the Roanoke station spans nearly four decades and includes teaching as an adjunct instructor at Virginia Tech.
The West Virginia Lifetime Achievement Award was given to John Nakashima, senior producer and director at West Virginia Public Broadcasting. Nakashima has produced, directed, shot and edited documentaries and music programs for West Virginia Public Television since 1976.
The VAPB also awarded two $1500 scholarships to students majoring in broadcast journalism: Josephine Walker of Virginia Commonwealth University and Duncan Slade of West Virginia University.
Thirty-seven news organizations in Virginia and West Virginia submitted 531 entries in the contest, which featured news and sports stories from 2020.
The VAPB is an independent association comprised of local members of The Associated Press, a not-for-profit news cooperative that represents thousands of newspapers and broadcast stations across the U.S.
Winners in the 2020 Virginias AP Broadcasters Contest:
Best Spot News: First, Brent Solomon and Peter Alvey, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA, “A Battle for Breonna: Outcome Pits Protesters Toe-to-Toe With Police”; Second, Frank Jones, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA, “Chesterfield Flooding.”
Best Continuing News: First, Margaret Ashburn, Brittny McGraw and Jeff Perzan, WSLS-TV, Roanoke, VA, “20/20 Focus: The Push for Equality Individual Segments”; Second, Mark Curtis, Steven Shaw and Rod Jackson, WOWK-TV, Charleston, WV, “Who’s Murdering Veterans Inside the VA Hospital?”
Outstanding Sports Operation of the Virginias: First, Mark Martin, Josh Lewis and C.J. Harvey, WCHS-TV, Charleston, WV; Second, Lane Casadonte and Sean Robertson, WTVR-TV, Richmond, VA.
Best Documentary or In-Depth: First, Janet Roach and Stephen Wozny, WVEC-TV, Norfolk, VA, “Etched in Stone: The Hurt Behind the Heritage”; Second, Margaret Ashburn, Brittny McGraw and Brittany Furrow, WSLS-TV, Roanoke, VA, “20/20 Focus: The Push for Equality – News Special.”
Best Light Feature: First, Diane Walker and Jennifer Warnick, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA, “Terminally Ill Patient Fights for Dignity”; Second, Zak Dahlheimer and Justin Fleenor, WTKR-TV/WGNT-TV, Norfolk, VA, “88-Year-Old Math Tutor Helps Families Through Social Media During Pandemic.”
Best Serious Feature: First, Laura French and Curtis Akers, WTVR-TV, Richmond, VA, “Seventeen Years Wasted”; Second, Hannah Goetz and Elbert Mosley, WOWK-TV, Charleston, WV, “Remembering Cassie Johnson.”
Best Sports Feature: First, Adam Winkler, WTKR-TV/WGNT-TV, Norfolk, VA, “Marlins, Mia Make Memories”; Second, Ashley Boles, WDBJ-TV, Roanoke, VA, “My Heart Stopped.”
Best Video Journalist/One Man Band: First, Maggi Marshall, WSET-TV, Lynchburg, VA; Second, Wayne Covil, WTVR-TV, Richmond, VA, “Wayne’s World.”
Best Reporter: First, Brent Solomon, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA; Second, Evan Watson, WVEC-TV, Norfolk, VA.
Best Specialty Reporting: First, Anita Blanton and Larry Carney, WAVY-TV, Hampton Roads, VA, “Courageous Conversations”; Second, Rachel DePompa, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA, “Consumer Reporting.”
Best Spot News Photography: First, WSET-TV, Lynchburg, VA, “Protest Violence”; Second, Brandon Graves, WVEC-TV, Norfolk, VA, “Fugitive Shot, Killed.”
Best Feature Photography: First, Adrian Guerra, WVEC-TV, Norfolk, VA, “Oyster Farmer”; Second, A.J. Nwoko, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA, “An Impressive ‘FEET.’”
Best Multimedia/Online Journalism: First, Karina Bolster, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA, “Police Investigate Assault Leading to Highway Car Fire”; Second, Karina Bolster, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA, “400 People Tested in Mass COVID-19 Testing Event.”
Best Investigative Reporting: First, Diane Walker and Jennifer Warnick, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA, “Nursing Home Investigation”; Second, Leslie Rubin, Larry Clark and Matt Durrett, WCHS-TV, Charleston, WV, “Why Is the Baby With the Mayor?”
Best Website: First, Jeff Williamson, Nicole Del Rosario and Samantha Smith, WSLS-TV, Roanoke, VA; Second, WSET-TV, Lynchburg, VA.
Best News Promo: First, David Stotts and Rob Byrne, WTVR-TV, Richmond, VA, “Cumberland Hospital”; Second, Erik Candiani, Mason Adams and Rob Edmonds, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA, “A Monumental Election.”
Best Station Promo: First, Erik Candiani, Rob Edmonds and Mason Adams, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA, “RVA TV: Stronger Together”; Second, Erik Candiani, Terrell Thompson and Mason Adams, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA, “NBC12 Behind-the Scenes.”
Best Newscast: First, Frank Jones and Sam Maneri, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA; Second, Bob Bennett, WAVY-TV, Hampton Roads, VA, “Election Day.”
Best Weathercast: First, John Bernier, Matt DiNardo and Michelle Morgan, WRIC-TV, Richmond, VA, “Tornado Outbreak From Isaias”; Second, WSAZ-TV, Charleston/Huntington, WV, “First Warning Weather.”
Best Weathercaster: First, Zach Daniel, WTVR-TV, Richmond, VA; Second, George Flickinger, WSET-TV, Lynchburg, VA.
Best TV News Anchor: First, Bill Fitzgerald, WTVR-TV, Richmond, VA; Second, Taylor Eaton, WSAZ-TV, Charleston/Huntington, WV.
Best TV Sports Anchor: First, Lane Casadonte, WTVR-TV, Richmond, VA; Second, Adam Winkler, WTKR-TV/WGNT-TV, Norfolk, VA.
Best Producer: First, Kelsey Stanger, WVEC-TV, Norfolk, VA; Second, Samantha Maneri, WWBT-TV, Richmond, VA.
Best Team News Coverage: First, WCHS-TV, Charleston, WV, “Honoring a Hero”; Second, WSAZ-TV, Charleston/Huntington, WV, “Officer-Involved Shooting.”
Best Old Dominion Heritage: First, Stephen Wozny, WVEC-TV, Norfolk, VA, “Saving Tangier”; Second, Tom Schaad and Mike Marrero, WAVY-TV, Hampton Roads, VA, “Nat Turner’s Rebellion.”
Best Mountain State Heritage: First, Lily Bradley and Elbert Mosely, WOWK-TV, Charleston, WV, “Woody Williams, Honoring West Virginia’s Native Son.”
Douglas Southall Freeman Award: First, Tony Cavalier, WSAZ-TV, Charleston/Huntington, WV, “Corona Calculus”; Second, Kate Capodanno, Jane Caffrey and Leanna Scachetti, WDBJ-TV, Roanoke, VA, “Spanish Language Newscast.”
Outstanding News Operation of the Virginias: First, Stephen Hayes, Sheryl Barnhouse and David Stotts, WTVR-TV, Richmond, VA; Second, Chris Gegg and Tiaira Shoultz, WVEC-TV, Norfolk, VA.
Best Spot News: First, Larmie Sanyon, WBOY-TV, Clarksburg, WV, “Hundreds Gather in Morgantown to Protest for Police Accountability”; Second, Annie Moore, WVVA-TV, Bluefield, WV, “40-Year-Old Cold Case Solved.”
Best Continuing News: First, WCYB-TV, Bristol, VA, “Amber Alert: Evelyn Boswell”; Second, Josh Croup, WDTV-TV, Bridgeport, WV, “Fairmont Regional Medical Center Closure.”
Outstanding Sports Operation of the Virginias: First, Preston Willett and Danielle Stein, WCAV-TV, Charlottesville, VA; Second, Mike Shiers, Riley Wyant and Andrew Webb, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA.
Best Documentary or In-Depth: First, WCYB-TV, Bristol, VA, “Innocence Lost: What Happened to Baby Evelyn?”; Second, Matt Talhelm and Patrick Huddleston, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “Pandemic of the Past.”
Best Light Feature: First, Riley Wyant, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “Owen’s Outdoor Museum”; Second, Kyle Rogers, WHSV-TV, Harrisonburg, VA, “Heroes and Helpers of 2020.”
Best Serious Feature: First, Matt Talhelm, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “Black UVA Professor’s Fight for Tenure”; Second, Caleb Perhne, WCYB-TV, Bristol, VA, “2020 Retrospective.”
Best Sports Feature: First, TJ Eck, WHSV-TV, Harrisonburg, VA, “Road to Redemption: The Pee Wee Barber Story”; Second, Logan Ross and Larry Marrs, WVNS-TV, Beckley-Bluefield-Lewisburg, WV, “Hannah Blankenship.”
Best Video Journalist/One Man Band: First, John Hood, WHSV-TV, Harrisonburg, VA; Second, Jasmin Adous, WDTV-TV, Bridgeport, WV.
Best Reporter: First, Josh Croup, WDTV-TV, Bridgeport, WV; Second, John Hood, WHSV-TV, Harrisonburg, VA.
Best Specialty Reporting: First, Daniel Grimes, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “Open for Business”; Second, Josh Croup, WDTV-TV, Bridgeport, WV, “Tasty Tuesday.”
Best Spot News Photography: First, Tara Todd, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “Recovering From Flash Flooding in Staunton”; Second, Larry Marrs, WVNS-TV, Beckley-Bluefield-Lewisburg, WV, “McDowell Flooding.”
Best Feature Photography: First, Larry Marrs, WVNS-TV, Beckley-Bluefield-Lewisburg, WV, “Westside Rockets”; Second, Patrick Huddleston and Matt Talhelm, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “Pandemic of the Past.”
Best Multimedia/Online Journalism: First, Riley Wyant and Max Marcilla, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “Noise Demonstration to Defund the Police.”
Best Investigative Reporting: First, Amanda Mueller, Daniel Rainar and Michael Corley, WBOY-TV, Clarksburg, WV, “Behind the Body Cam”; Second, Caleb Perhne, WCYB-TV, Bristol, VA, “Commissioners Jump the Line for COVID-19 Shot.”
Best Website: First, John Lynch, WTRF-TV, Wheeling, WV; Second, Madison Greer, WHSV-TV, Harrisonburg, VA.
Best News Promo: First, Jared Morrison, WVVA-TV, Bluefield, WV, “Election Night Coverage”; Second, Joey Kinsley, WCAV-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “Severe Weather.”
Best Station Promo: First, Jared Morrison, WVVA-TV, Bluefield, WV, “Here for You”; Second, Joey Kinsley, WCAV-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “Fox Virginia Launch.”
Best Newscast: First, WHSV-TV, Harrisonburg, VA; Second, Autumn Collins, WVNS-TV, Beckley-Bluefield-Lewisburg, WV, “Election Night.”
Best Weathercast: First, David Rogers and Eric Pritchett, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “Preparing for Snow”; Second, WBOY-TV, Clarksburg, WV, “Winter Storm Coverage.”
Best Weathercaster: First, Aubrey Urbanowicz, WHSV-TV, Harrisonburg, VA; Second, David Rogers, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA.
Best TV News Anchor: First, Kasey Hott, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA; Second, David Horak, WVNS-TV, Beckley-Bluefield-Lewisburg, WV.
Best TV Sports Anchor: First, Heather Williams, WCYB-TV, Bristol, VA; Second, Preston Willett, WCAV-TV, Charlottesville, VA.
Best Producer: First, Jack Selby, WTAP-TV, Parkersburg, WV; Second, Valerie Sullivan and Heather Hall, WVNS-TV, Beckley-Bluefield-Lewisburg, WV, “Veterans Voices.”
Best Team News Coverage: First, WHSV-TV, Harrisonburg, VA; Second, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “COVID Locks Down UVA.”
Best Old Dominion Heritage: First, John Hood, WHSV-TV, Harrisonburg, VA, “Hauntings With Hood”; Second, Andrew Webb, WVIR-TV, Charlottesville, VA, “Preserving History at Burley Middle School.”
Douglas Southall Freeman Award: First, WVNS-TV, Beckley-Bluefield-Lewisburg, WV, “Back-to-School Special.”
Outstanding News Operation of the Virginias: First, WHSV-TV, Harrisonburg, VA; Second, WVNS-TV, Beckley-Bluefield-Lewisburg, WV.
Best Spot News: First, Dave Mistich, WVPB-FM, Charleston, WV, “There’s an Endpoint: First Group in West Virginia Vaccinated for COVID-19”; Second, Ian Stewart, WCVE-FM/VPM, Richmond, VA, “Christmas Tree Sales Spike Amid the Pandemic.”
Best Continuing News: First, WVTF-FM, Roanoke, VA, “Richmond’s Summer of Reckoning”; Second, WRVA-AM, Richmond, VA, “A Social Reckoning.”
Outstanding Sports Operation of the Virginias: First, Nick Verzolini and Andrew Rogers, WMUL-FM, Huntington, WV; Second, Randy Leftwich and Greg Roberts, WFIR-AM/FM, Roanoke, VA.
Best Documentary or In-Depth: First, Roxy Todd, Mason Adams and Jessica Lilly, WVPB-FM, Charleston, WV, “Finding a Way Forward”; Second, Trey Kay and Kyle Vass, WVPB-FM, Charleston, WV, “Without a Home Can You Be a Good Neighbor?”
Best Light Feature: First, Gina Gambony, WHRO-FM, Norfolk, VA, “Reporter’s Notebook: A Walk on White Cane Day”; Second, Emily Allen, WVPB-FM, Charleston, WV, “Wrestlers and Fans Venture ‘Out of the Darkness’ With Drive-In Show.”
Best Serious Feature: First, Sandy Hausman, WVTF-FM, Roanoke, VA, “Fentress Released”; Second, Robbie Harris, WVTF-FM, Roanoke, VA, “Virginia Tech Cough Study.”
Best Sports Feature: First, Nick Verzolini, WMUL-FM, Huntington, WV, “Ciara Debell Tries out for Team USA”; Second, Andrew Rogers, WMUL-FM, Huntington, WV, “Obinna Anochili-Killen Standout Athlete of the Week.”
Best Sports Play-by-Play: First, Andrew Rogers, Nick Verzolini and Wesley Steele, WMUL-FM, Huntington, WV, “Marshall Men’s Basketball vs Southern Miss.”
Best Reporter: First, Mallory Noe-Payne, WVTF-FM, Roanoke, VA; Second, Robbie Harris, WVTF-FM, Roanoke, VA.
Best Editorial or Editorial Series: First, Trey Kay, WVPB-FM, Charleston, WV, “Us and Them: Let Us ‘Bind up the Nation’s Wounds.’”
Best Specialty Reporting: First, Caitlin Tan, WVPB-FM, Charleston, WV, “Folktales and Music Bring to Life the West Virginia/Welsh Connection.”
Best Multimedia/Online Journalism: First, Whittney Evans, Julia Rendleman and David Streever, WCVE-FM/VPM, Richmond, VA, “Safer at Home: Evicted During a Pandemic.”
Best Investigative Reporting: First, Dave Mistich and Brittany Patterson, WVPB-FM, Charleston, WV, “Coal Operator Who Fought Against Black Lung Regulations Files for Black Lung Benefits”; Second, Paul Bibeau, WHRO-FM, Norfolk, VA, “Five Hampton Roads Police Departments Have Military Vehicles. Here’s How They Used Them.”
Best News Promo: First, Zane Bowles, WMUL-FM, Huntington, WV, “Alexis- Newscenter 88.”
Best Station Promo: First, Zane Bowles, WMUL-FM, Huntington, WV, “Coronavirus Recruitment.”
Best Newscast: First, WFIR-AM/FM, Roanoke, VA; Second, Benjamin Dolle, WCVE-FM/VPM, Richmond, VA.
Best Radio News Anchor: First, Jessica Lilly, WVPB-FM, Charleston, WV, “Appalachian Strength in the Face of a Pandemic”; Second, Dennis Edwards, WRVA-AM, Richmond, VA.
Best Radio Sports Anchor: First, Gary Hess, WRVA-AM, Richmond, VA.
Best Old Dominion Heritage: First, Sandy Hausman, WVTF-FM, Roanoke, VA, “Professor Apple”; Second, Luke Church, WVTF-FM, Roanoke, VA, “Albert Hash.”
Best Mountain State Heritage: First, Zack Harold, WVPB-FM, Charleston, WV, “A Family Cultivates Tradition With a Nearly-Forgotten Tomato.”
Douglas Southall Freeman Award: First, Sandy Hausman, WVTF-FM, Roanoke, VA, “The COVID-19 Minute.”
Outstanding News Operation of the Virginias: First, WVTF-FM, Roanoke, VA; Second, WRVA-AM, Richmond, VA.
Outstanding Sports Operation of the Virginias: First, WINA-AM/FM, Charlottesville, VA.
Best Documentary or In-Depth: First, Janet Michael, WZRV-FM, Front Royal, VA, “Community Health: COVID-19 Vaccine Has Arrived”; Second, Michael Guthrie, WINA-AM/FM, Charlottesville, VA, “The Importance of Property Rights.”
Best Light Feature: First, Randy Woodward, WZRV-FM, Front Royal, VA, “Festivals and Fairs.”
Best Serious Feature: First, Michael Guthrie, WINA-AM/FM, Charlottesville, VA, “How Charlottesville Has Changed Since August 12, 2017.”
Best Sports Feature: First, Jay James and Bobby Chhabra, WINA-AM/FM, Charlottesville, VA, “NCAA Tournament and COVID-19″; Second, Barry Richmond, WAKG-FM, Danville, VA, “Nascar Noise.”
Best Sports Play-by-Play: First, Dave Koehn, WINA-AM/FM, Charlottesville, VA.
Best Reporter: First, Jay Hart, WINA-AM/FM, Charlottesville, VA; Second, Janet Michael, WZRV-FM, Front Royal, VA.
Best Website: First, Janet Michael, WZRV-FM, Front Royal, VA.
Best Station Promo: First, Jon Talbott, WAKG-FM, Danville, VA, “Good Morning, I’m Jack Garrett.”
Best Newscast: First, Jay Hart, WINA-AM/FM, Charlottesville, VA, “Another Go at Governor for Terry”; Second, Jack Garrett, WBTM-AM, Danville, VA.
Best Radio News Anchor: First, Dori Zook, WINA-AM/FM, Charlottesville, VA, “Chief Lantz Crashes the Newscast”; Second, Jack Garrett, WAKG-FM, Danville, VA.
Best Radio Sports Anchor: First, Luke Neer, WINA-AM/FM, Charlottesville, VA.
Outstanding News Operation of the Virginias: First, Dori Zook, Rob Graham and Jay Hart, WINA-AM/FM, Charlottesville, VA, “We Wanna Grab Your Attention.”
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Democratic leaders in Virginia conceded Friday that Republicans have won control of the House of Delegates.
The Associated Press has not called all of Virginia’s House races yet. But the concession means Republicans would complete an elections sweep in which they also reclaimed the offices of governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn issued a statement acknowledging the GOP majority shortly after Democratic Del. Martha Mugler conceded defeat in a tight race against Republican challenger A.C. Cordoza in the 91st House district, located in Virginia’s Hampton Roads region. With Mugler’s concession, Republicans now expect to hold at least 51 seats in the 100-member chamber.
“While the results of the election were not in our favor, our work for the people of Virginia goes on,” said Filler-Corn.
Garren Shipley, a spokesman for House Republican Leader Todd Gilbert, said Filler-Corn called Gilbert on Friday. “The House Republican caucus appreciates her pledge to a smooth transition to the incoming majority,” Shipley said.
The GOP victories are being seen as a backlash against a Democratic majority that has pushed through a series of progressive reforms over the past two years, including the repeal of the death penalty, a loosening of abortion restrictions and the legalization of marijuana.
Democrats hold a slim 21-19 majority in the Senate. Senators are not up for reelection until 2023.
Tuesday’s marquee race in Virginia was the governor’s contest, in which Republican businessman Glenn Youngkin defeated former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe. The GOP also captured the lieutenant governor’s office after Republican Winsome Sears beat Democrat Hala Ayala, and the attorney general’s office with Republican Jason Miyares’ victory over Democratic two-term incumbent Mark Herring. Sears will become the state’s first female lieutenant governor and the first woman of color to win statewide office in Virginia.
Youngkin’s victory and the near-defeat of New Jersey’s Democratic governor have sparked fears that Democrats are on course to lose control of Congress in next year’s midterm elections.
Democrats held a 55-45 majority heading into the election Tuesday.
Republicans had controlled the House since 2000, but Democrats won back 15 GOP-held seats in 2017, helped by voter hostility toward then-President Donald Trump. In 2019, Democrats took full control of the legislature by wiping out slim Republican majorities in the House and Senate.
Among the surprise wins this year was that by Republican Kim Taylor over three-term incumbent Democratic Del. Lashrecse Aird in the 63rd District, which gave Republicans their 50th seat on Wednesday. Aird claimed victory late Tuesday, but a late surge by Taylor gave her a 741-vote win.
Democrat Wendy Gooditis won reelection to her third term in District 10, defeating Republican challenger Nick Clemente, a political newcomer. Gooditis’ northern Virginia district includes parts of fast-growing Loudoun County and rural areas in Clarke and Frederick counties.
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — A juvenile son of Virginia Gov.-elect Glenn Youngkin tried twice to cast a ballot in Tuesday’s election, officials said Friday.
The 17-year-old son presented an ID but was told he was ineligible to vote due to his age and turned away, according to a statement from Scott Konopasek, Fairfax County’s general registrar. The statement said the teen did not successfully vote, made no false statements, did not disrupt voting and appeared to have committed “no election offense.”
The statement mentioned Youngkin’s son by name, saying the identification was based on contemporaneous notes by the chief election officer.
The news was first reported by The Washington Post. The Associated Press is not naming the son because he is a juvenile.
Youngkin defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe earlier this week to become the first Republican to win a governor’s race in Virginia since 2009. His victory was part of a Republican sweep on election night that saw the GOP retake Virginia’s two other statewide offices. Democrats also said Friday evening that they were conceding control of the House. The Associated Press has not called all House races yet.
A spokesman for Youngkin, who campaigned heavily on election integrity, said the son misunderstood Virginia’s laws.
“It’s unfortunate that while Glenn attempts to unite the Commonwealth around his positive message of better schools, safer streets, a lower cost of living, and more jobs, his political opponents — mad that they suffered historic losses this year — are pitching opposition research on a 17-year old kid who honestly misunderstood Virginia election law and simply asked polling officials if he was eligible to vote; when informed he was not, he went to school,” Devin O’Malley said in a statement.
Virginia law allows any person who is 17 and will be 18 by Election Day to register in advance and vote in any intervening primary or special election.
Jennifer Chanty, a precinct captain, told The Washington Post she encountered the son, who left after initially being told he was too young to vote. She said he returned a short time later, saying a friend who was also 17 had been allowed to cast a ballot.
Youngkin, who has four children, made election integrity central to his campaign during the fight for the GOP nomination, and he refused for months to say whether President Joe Biden was legitimately elected.
After winning the nomination in May, Youngkin mostly focused on other issues, though he drew Democratic criticism for attending an election integrity rally at Liberty University, for indirectly responding to a question about whether he would have certified the 2020 election, and for campaigning with state Sen. Amanda Chase, a prominent proponent of election conspiracy theories.
In a debate, he said “there wasn’t material fraud” in the 2020 elections, which he called “certifiably fair.”