Originally in the Daily Press

Virginia’s General Assembly may end up looking just a little bit more like Virginia after the next election, as the number of women seeking open seats or to knock off incumbents has jumped sharply.

According to a tally by the Virginia Public Access project, 22 women who aren’t already in the General Assembly are seeking seats this year. That’s a huge jump up from the 10 who ran in 2011, the last time both the House of Delegates and the Senate were up for election. (In 2007, the total was 12, in 2003, it was 4 and in 1999 it was 4.) You can see the VPAP tally, as well as more data and some history here.

At the moment, 24 of our 140 legislators are women, or about one in seven. As you know, about one out of every two Virginians is female.

Of the current total of women legislators, 22 are seeking re-election. The two candidates seeking to succeed Del. Mamye BaCote are women, but the two seeking to succeed Sen. Toddy Puller, of Northern Virginia, are men.

In theory, then, if all incumbent women and all nonincumbent women win, we could end up with a legislature of 43 women and 97 men, or just about 30 percent.

In practice, that’s not hugely likely. The General Assembly's thing for gerrymandering makes incumbents pretty safe.

But two women are seeking to succeed state Sen. Walter Stosch. And the  the GOP candidate in the heavily Republican district now represented by state Sen. Steve Martin is Amanda Chase, who defeated him in this month’s primary. Over in Petersburg, Lashrecse Aird is unopposed in her bid to succeed Del. Joe Preston.

 With Puller certain to be succeeded by a man, that makes a net gain of two.

Other races that could result in a gain in the number of women in the General Assembly?

Watch what happens in the Democratic-leaning 86th district, long represented by retiring Republican Del. Tom Rust and where Democrat Jennifer Boysko has a huge fundraising lead over Republican Danny Vargas and independent Paul Brubaker. Democrats have high hopes -- which means they're investing big -- in Jill McCabe's bid to unseat state Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudoun. The district leans R, and Black has nearly twice as much in his campaign fund, but McCabe's fund raising so far this year netted her just under $165,000 compared to Black's $92,425. Out in southwest Virginia, where state Sen John Edwards, D-Roanoke, is in a three-way race to retain his seat, GOP challenger Nancy Dye has raised made a major fund raising effort, netting $179,000 to the $224,000 Edwards has raised.

Closer to home, Del. David Yancey, R-Newport News, and Del. Monty Mason, D-Williamsburg, each face strong women candidates in their very competitive districts.

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