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Meet 17 of the Democrats who will flip Virginia blue this fall

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The entire Virginia House and Senate are up for election this fall, and Democrats need to flip just two seats in each chamber to flip control from red to blue. Here are 17 of the incredible, inspiring candidates fighting to make it happen.

Shelly Simonds, HD-94

A teacher much of her career, Shelly Simonds knows firsthand the needs of students and those in the community. She also knows the importance of every single vote: She previously ran for this district in 2017, an election that was decided by random draw. Shelly plans to continue her life’s work of pushing for higher teacher pay, a stronger economy, and quality healthcare.

Sheila Bynum-Coleman, HD-62

As an activist, Sheila Bynum-Coleman has played a huge role in her community for years. She has fought for education reform to help students and advocated for environmental cleanup to protect kids from chronic health problems.

Missy Cotter Smasal, SD-8

Missy Cotter Smasal joined the Navy and served during Operation Enduring Freedom. When she returned home, she owned and operated a successful small business, Rita’s Italian Water Ice, for over 10 years and became an activist in the Virginia Beach community. Since then, she has advocated for economic growth, school safety, and protecting the environment.

Dan Helmer, HD-40

Dan Helmer, the grandson of Holocaust Survivors, attended West Point and served in the military for years. His expertise in safety has made him a great advocate for common sense gun reform and reducing traffic. Dan also wants to ensure all Virginians have a high quality education and access to quality, affordable healthcare.

Alex Askew, HD-85

Alex Askew knows how to get things done in the state legislature — he serves as a legislative aide in the House of Delegates, where he’s helped craft legislation to expand Medicaid, support safe learning environments for Virginia’s students, and provide affordable housing to those who need it. He’s running to represent Virginia Beach and fight for all Virginians.

Karen Mallard, HD-84

Elementary school reading specialist Karen Mallard has been a fighter her whole life: She first advocated for her community at the age of eleven, working with her father — who she later taught to read — to stop waste dumping in the river nearby. She has committed herself to improving public education throughout her entire career, and will fight to make sure every child has access to quality education that fits their individual needs.

Larry Barnett, HD-27

Larry Barnett has spent the past three decades serving Chesterfield County as a leading mental health professional. He is running now to expand affordable healthcare access for Virginians, especially around mental health and addiction.

Phil Hernandez, HD-100

As a native of Hampton Roads, Phil Hernandez owes much of his success to the support of the community in which he grew up, and he’s running for the state House to give back. Phil has demonstrated his passion for helping others through his past work. From championing clean energy during his time on the Obama Administration’s Domestic Policy Council, to advocating for civil rights and workers’ rights as an attorney, he has proven that he will fight for the people in his community.

John Bell, SD-13

Retired Air Force member John Bell served over two decades before retiring as a Major, during which time he had tours all across the globe. He was first elected to the state House of Delegates in 2015, and has fought for working families just as he did in the military. Now he’s running to flip a top-targeted Virginia Senate seat.

Danica Roem, HD-13

Delegate Danica Roem became the first openly transgender state legislator in Virginia when she flipped this long-time Republican seat. She campaigned on reducing traffic on Route 28 and rooting out discrimination.

Kelly Convirs-Fowler, HD-21

As a Virginia Beach native, Delegate Kelly Convirs-Fowler understands the needs of Virginia Beach residents, and has spent the past year fighting for them in the House of Delegates. She ran her 2017 campaign on education funding, healthcare access, and job creation, and faces a critical reelection fight in November.

Jennifer Carroll Foy, HD-2

As a criminal defense attorney and a foster parent for 8 years, Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy has dedicated her life to helping the most vulnerable members of society. She has carried this dedication over to her constituents by proposing legislation this session to extend the Metro blue line, protect drinking water from contamination, and pass the Equal Rights Amendment. She faces reelection this November in this key district.

Kathy Tran, HD-42

Delegate Kathy Tran and her family came to America as Vietnamese refugees when she was just 7 months old. As a delegate, she has worked to expand opportunities for all Virginians. This session, she introduced legislation to expand access to healthcare, strengthen public education, help working families, and advance women’s rights. She is facing reelection in 2019 in a critical swing district.

Hala Ayala, HD-51

Delegate Hala Ayala decided to run in District 51 in 2017 to advocate for working families and women. As the 17th female delegate elected to serve in Virginia — and one of the first Latina women in the state House — she is proud to represent women in her district and in the state, and looks forward to continuing her work in 2019.

Elizabeth Guzman, HD-31

Delegate Elizabeth Guzman immigrated to the US as a single mother, working three jobs to support her family and pay for education for herself and her daughter. She first ran for the Virginia House in 2017 to fight for every Virginian to have a fair shot at the American dream.

Wendy Gooditis, HD-10

Delegate Wendy Gooditis has dedicated her time and passion to serving District 10 since she beat out Republican incumbent Randall Minchew in 2017. Now she is running again to fight for affordable healthcare and public school access and funding.

Chris Hurst, HD-12

Former news anchor Chris Hurst lived a nightmare when his girlfriend was murdered on live TV. Now he’s a member of the Virginia House fighting for the issues they once reported on together.