RICHMOND — A national Republican group on Friday pledged to pump a total of $100,000 into races for Virginia’s House of Delegates as part of the GOP’s national bid to boost its appeal to women and minorities.
The Republican State Leadership Committee announced that it is giving $80,000 right away to help bankroll four minority candidates and one woman running for the House in November, when all 140 seats in the General Assembly are up for grabs. It promised to provide an additional $20,000 to undetermined House races by Labor Day.
The donations are coming through two separate RSLC initiatives intended to help the GOP broaden its reach to a changing electorate in Virginia and across the country: its Future Majority Project and Right Women, Right Now venture.
“The strength and diversity of Virginia’s Republican candidates this year is reflective of what we are seeing around the country, with outstanding Republican candidates who more closely reflect the electorate we seek to serve,” said former RSLC chairman Ed Gillespie, who last year nearly unseated Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.).
“Their victories in November — combined with victories in the state Senate — will go a long way in demonstrating that our Republican nominee for president will carry Virginia next year,” he said.
In announcing the donations, the RSLC highlighted the candidates’ diverse backgrounds — a first-generation Korean American, the son of a Cuban exile, a native of Puerto Rico, a Vietnamese refugee who went on to Harvard, and a former single mother. Then it took a swipe at Democrats for fielding “mostly white men” in those five races.
“While the Democrats run mostly white men in key Virginia races this year, the Republicans’ impressive slate of qualified, conservative and diverse men and women running for the House of Delegates is reflective of where our party is today,” former Puerto Rico governor Luis Fortuño, an RSLC board member, said in a written statement.
All of the Democrats running in the five races are white, and four are men. But Democrats noted that statewide, their slate of candidates is far more diverse than the Republicans’ — as is the case with existing House and Senate caucuses.
“The party of Donald Trump can throw money at Virginia races, but it won’t solve the inclusiveness issues raging in the Virginia GOP,” said Morgan Finkelstein, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Party of Virginia. “And it certainly won’t change the fact that Republicans here are still wrong on the issues that matter to Virginia families; rather than focus on investing in education, transportation and jobs, they’ll pick political fights over women’s health care and LGBT discrimination.”
The five candidates are:
●Sang Yi, who is challenging Del. David L. Bulova (D-Fairfax).
●Jason Miyares, who is seeking the Virginia Beach seat that Del. William R. DeSteph Jr. (R-Virginia Beach) is giving up to run for state Senate. Miyares’s Democratic opponent is Bill Fleming.
●Danny Vargas, who is seeking to fill the Northern Virginia seat long held by Del. Thomas Davis Rust (R-Fairfax), who is retiring. Vargas faces Democrat Jennifer Boysko and independent Paul Brubaker.
●Chuong Nguyen, who is running for the Northern Virginia seat being vacated by Del. David I. Ramadan (R-Loudoun). He faces Democrat John Bell and Libertarian Brian Suojanen.
●Lara Overy, who is trying to unseat freshman Del. T. Montgomery Mason (D-Williamsburg).
In its announcement, the GOP group described each of the five as follows:
“Yi is a first-generation Korean-American who immigrated to the United States with his parents, and is now running to represent a Virginia district with a high concentration of Korean-Americans.
“Miyares is a conservative attorney, former prosecutor and community leader. His mother is a Cuban exile who instilled in her son the values of freedom and opportunity.
“Vargas is . . . [a] Puerto Rican raised by a single mother in New York.
“Nguyen is a Harvard graduate, attorney, teacher and former counselor. He and his family escaped communist Vietnam on a fishing boat, journeyed through a Malaysian refugee camp, and finally arrived in the United States.
“Overy . . . grew up in the 93rd District and raised her own family there as a once single, young mother.”