Ebbin to Face Challenger in Alexandria

Ebbin to Face Challenger in Alexandria

Senate race will be the lone contested election in Alexandria this November.

The newly drawn Senate District 39 includes all of Alexandria as well as National Airport and Bailey's Crossroads.

The newly drawn Senate District 39 includes all of Alexandria as well as National Airport and Bailey's Crossroads.

Republicans haven't had much luck in Alexandria since the days of Wiley Mitchell and Bob Calhoun, two GOP state senators who represented the city before Patsy Ticer was elected in 1995. Since Ticer unseated Calhoun, Democrats have dominated the city's delegation to the General Assembly with lopsided elections and uncontested races. Ticer never faced another Republican after knocking off Calhoun. And when Adam Ebbin was first elected to the seat in 2011, he won with 64 percent of the vote against Republican Tim McGhee. Republicans have not offered another candidate to challenge Ebbin since then.

Until now.

This year, the three-term incumbent Democrat will have a Republican opponent, Sophia Moshasha. She declined repeated requests to be interviewed for this story, although she sent a press release describing herself as a "seasoned technology advocate" and a "dedicated community builder." The press release says she plans on prioritizing education and workforce development, economic growth. According to her Linkedin page, she is the vice president of the DC Chapter of the VR/AR Association and co-host of the "Everything VR & AR" podcast. VR is virtual reality and AR is augmented reality.

"She understands that divisive partisanship should not hinder progress," the press release says, "and is determined to work collaboratively with colleagues from all backgrounds to achieve results for the community."

Republicans acknowledge that Democrats have an overwhelming advantage in a city where President Joe Biden won in 2020 with 80 percent of the vote. The GOP will not have candidates on the ballot challenging any of the city's three House of Delegates seats, and party leaders concede that getting Republicans to challenge Democrats in Alexandria is a very difficult challenge. 

"It's not rocket science," says Mike Lane, who was in charge of recruiting Republican candidates in Alexandria. "When you are interested in public service and you look at a race and you read the numbers and figure out that it's an extraordinarily uphill race, you need to think seriously and hard about the effort that is to be invested for very iffy returns."

IN AN INTERVIEW, Ebbin says he hopes voters in the newly created 39th Senate District will return him to office so he can protect abortion rights, secure funding for public education, safeguard voting rights and press for more gun violence prevention legislation. When Democrats held the General Assembly and the governor's office, Ebbin led an unsuccessful effort to ban assault weapons. Now that he has to deal with a Republican governor, he says Democrats should continue pressing for banning ghost guns and requiring safe storage of firearms as well as raising the purchasing age to 21.

"I think people are angry and tired of mass shootings," said Ebbin, while campaigning for a Senate colleague this week. "We know that assault-style weapons are often used in them, and that we can come together and come up with a principled alternative to letting assault weapons be easily available."

Ebbin is perhaps best known as being one of the General Assembly's most outspoken advocates for legalization of marijuana, a process that is still half baked at best. While it's currently legal for adults to possess small amounts of marijuana, House Republicans have blocked efforts to create a system to issue licenses to sell weed. As the first openly gay member of the Senate, Ebbin has been outspoken about the unsuccessful effort to remove Virginia's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. As the chairman of the influential General Laws Committee, Ebbin says he'll use the position to influence everything from laws governing real estate and genetic data to evictions and documents available under the Freedom of Information Act.

"You never know what's going to come through General Laws," says Ebbin, who was previously chairman of the Privileges and Elections Committee. "Whatever we can do to see that renters are getting a more fair shake and whatever we can do to lessen evictions by seeing the process is fair."

REPUBLICANS HEAD into the fall election energized by their sweeping election victory in 2021, when they took all three statewide offices and seized control of the House of Delegates. Although voters ousted four incumbent Democratic senators this week, the only Republican to be unseated was Amanda Chase of Chesterfield — and she was not a member of the Senate Republican Caucus. Senate Republicans say they are poised to regain the Senate majority in November with the help of candidates like Sophia Moshasha.

"Our lineup of challenger and open seat nominees are committed to working with Governor Youngkin to advance his common sense conservative agenda," said Senate Caucus co-chairman Mark Obenshain in a written statement this week. "Republicans are ready to regain the Senate majority in November."

Democrats say the political dynamics have changed since 2021, especially after the United States Supreme Court obliterated the constitutionally protected right to abortion. That was a major issue in a hotly contested Democratic primary in Petersburg, where voters ousted the only Senate Democrat who opposes abortion rights. Democrats say they plan to campaign against the agenda of Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, especially when it comes to corporate tax cuts, voting rights, gun violence and limiting access to controversial books in public school libraries.

"He doesn't have any accomplishments," said Sen. Scott Surovell, who is currently running in the newly created Senate District 34. "He hasn't accomplished anything as governor for the last two years because he's in the middle of a presidential beauty pageant."