Fil-Ams win in Virginia elections

Posted at 11/10/2011 9:54 AM | Updated as of 11/10/2011 11:11 PM

WASHINGTON DC - Filipino-American Ron Villanueva handily won re-election in the Virginia House of Delegates, a sharp contrast to his maiden foray two years ago when he edged out the incumbent in his district by only 16 votes.

Villanueva, 41, won the seat for Virginia’s 21st district which includes the large Fil-Am enclave in Virginia Beach, with a nearly 1,600-vote margin according to the unofficial tally from the election held last November 8.
 
Another Fil-Am Tina Senon ran unopposed as deputy clerk of court of Virginia Beach.
 
Villanueva is a Republican and defeated incumbent Democratic delegate Bobby Mathieson in the 2009 elections. He was born in Philadelphia but later moved to Virginia’s Tidewater region, graduating from the Old Dominion University.
 
He is an executive vice president of a defense contracting company but also owns a small business and sat on the Virginia Beach City Council for many years.  
 
He ran a spirited campaign against newcomer Adrianne Bennett, a lawyer by profession. 
 
But according to the Virginia Public Access Project, Villanueva outspent his opponent – he was able to raise $218,000 vs Bennett’s $149,000. The Republican Party of Virginia and allied organizations also spent over $100,000 to boost Villanueva’s campaign.
 
The GOP increased its majority in the Virginia House of Delegates to 66 – the largest in recent Commonwealth history (Democrats were the dominant party until 1999). But they are likely to fall short of their goal to flip the State Senate, according to early results, which could prevent Republicans from dictating the final shape of the redistricting process.
 
One sidelight in the Virginia race was the election of the state’s first openly gay senator, Democrat Adam Ebbin who had previously held a seat in the House of Delegates. Ebbin was an outspoken advocate of gay rights while he was in the lower house. 
 
However, Republican Patrick Forrest, who was vying to become the 1st openly gay Republican to win state elections, failed to unseat State Sen. Janet Howell.
 
Democrats though registered more momentous victories in referendums elsewhere. In Ohio, voters rejected Republican Governor John Kasich’s signature legislation that bars collective bargaining agreements and bans strikes for the state’s 350,000 unionized government workers.
 
In Mississippi, voters also shot down a proposed constitutional amendment that defined life as beginning at fertilization that would ban all abortions, including those caused by rape or incest, and possibly opening the way for a host of restrictions like outlawing in-vitro fertilization or even selling cigarettes and liquor to pregnant women.

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