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Tipsheet

GOP Suffers One Last Defeat in Virginia's 2023 Elections

AP Photo/Steve Helber

It maybe was a Hail Mary shot, though the grounds for an election challenge were sound. The residency of an incumbent Virginia Democratic State senator was in doubt. In November, The Daily Wire’s Luke Rosiak reported that something was fishy regarding Sen. Ghazala Hashmi’s residency. She had opted to run in the more Democratic-friendly 15th Senate district post-redistricting. She did represent the 10th district before the 2023 elections. 

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She trounced her Republican opponent, Hayden Fisher, garnering 62 percent of the vote, but he argued that since her residency for the 15th district was inaccurate, those votes were ineligible. At least three constituents sued Hashmi, but a judge delivered a final ruling, dashing any hope of Republicans retaking the upper chamber in Richmond (via Associated Press): 

A Virginia judge on Friday dismissed a legal challenge that sought to prevent the certification of the election of a state legislator, rejecting claims that Democratic Sen. Ghazala Hashmi had not met the state’s residency requirements. 

Retired judge Jan L. Brodie issued the decision from the bench after an hourslong hearing in Chesterfield Circuit Court. 

Several Chesterfield County residents filed a petition in November alleging that Hashmi, who was first elected in 2019 and recently won a second term, was not complying with the requirement that candidates live in the district they are seeking to represent. 

In the court proceedings, both sides acknowledged that Hashmi had rented an apartment inside the confines of the Richmond-area 15th District where she was elected in November after the most recent redistricting process resulted in new political maps. But the petitioners argued she had not abandoned the longtime family home where her husband continued to live, which is located near the apartment but in a different district, the one in which Hashmi was first elected. 

The petitioners, who lived near the family home, closely monitored the residence and the movements of her family’s vehicles, noting that Hashmi sometimes still spent time there. They argued that Hashmi was falsifying her residency at the apartment and was therefore ineligible to serve in the General Assembly. They asked the court to prevent the Board of Elections from certifying the election, a process that’s scheduled to take place Monday. 

Brodie rejected their arguments, saying that the evidence showed Hashmi had established a domicile at the apartment and that the petitioners had not met their burden of proof. 

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Hashmi isn’t the only one plagued with a residency controversy; other state representatives have faced the same legal issues since outside experts created the new maps. No legal filings were made, however, though this ruling ends the longshot hope for Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin of retaining at least one chamber. The 2023 cycle ended with Democrats retaking the House of Delegates and maintaining their slim hold on the state Senate. Hashmi being disqualified could’ve changed that, as Democrats only control the chamber, 21 seats to the Republicans’ 19. 

The Hashmi campaign issued the following statement after their legal victory: 

Regarding the ruling of a court case in her favor, Senator Ghazala Hashmi said, “As we knew all along, this lawsuit was filed by election deniers outside of the district who made baseless accusations and tried to take away the will of the voters of the 15th Senate District. I am very grateful to the court for seeing this sideshow for what it was and am even more grateful that I can now fully focus on representing the families of my district. I thank the judge for this ruling, and I am grateful to the many voters and supporters who reached out.”

Jeffrey Breit, an attorney representing Senator Hashmi said, “We had a good, thoughtful judge assigned to the case and she applied the facts to the appropriate law. I am pleased for the Senator that she will be certified Monday as the new Senator for the 15th Senate District.” 

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Virginia is bound to return to total Democratic control in the next gubernatorial election.

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