Reyes faces uphill battle in 3rd District Senate campaign against Norment

svaughan@vagazette.com

JAMES CITY — — If you've missed the fact that there's an election going on in the 3rd Senate District, you're in the same boat as most everyone else.

Sen. Tommy Norment, R-James City, is facing Democratic challenger Hugo Reyes, although they haven't actually been face-to-face much.

"I've only met him once, he came up and introduced himself," said Norment, in a phone interview Tuesday.

That's something that rubs Reyes the wrong way. He says Norment is ducking him, refusing to schedule joint appearances.

Running in a very Republican district, Norment is spending as much time worrying about other races across the state. As majority leader, he's very concerned with Republicans holding their thin margin in the Senate.

And he says that's going well.

"I'm confident that Republicans will be able to retain control of the Senate," he said. "I am spending a great deal of my time on other races."

Reyes believes there's a good deal of dissatisfaction with Norment in the district, although he acknowledges its an uphill battle in a district without many Democrats.

"And I'm not just hearing that from Democrats and independents, I'm hearing it from some Republicans too," said Reyes, during a recent fundraiser for James City County Supervisor John McGlennon.

Ironically, Although Norment was incensed when Senate Democrats redrew his district in 2011 to exclude Williamsburg, in the process they gave him a solidly Republican district.

Reyes, like most challenger candidates, has been out knocking on doors.

Norment, like most 23-year incumbents, has not.

"No, I've been out making public appearances and meeting people in groups, but I haven't been door-knocking," he said.

To the extent that money gives a candidate an advantage, Norment would seem to have an monumental edge.

He's raised more than $1.9 million this election cycle and still has more than $1.2 million on hand. Reyes has raised $12,233 and had $4,732 on hand as of the Sept. 30 campaign finance report filing deadline, according to the Virginia Public Access Project.

Much of Norment's war chest will likely end up in the coffers of Republican senate candidates who need the help. This year, Norment has already donated $161,104 to party committees and $62,011 to legislative candidates. He's also donated $7,456 to local candidates, including $500 to Roberts District Supervisor candidate Heather Cordasco and $250 each to Berkeley Supervisor Mary Jones and Stonehouse Supervisor candidate Sue Sadler.

Attempting to make a negative into a positive, Reyes on his web site criticizes Norment for his ties to corporate donors.

"He has accepted gifts and donations and focused on the needs of high dollar corporate donors," wrote Reyes on the site.

In a telephone interview, Reyes said Norment has been more focused on the politics of the Senate than to his district.

The issues Reyes says are important to the district are veteran assistance, promoting early education, helping working families, mental health, preventing animal cruelty and supporting the arts.

Vaughan can be reached at (757)345-2343.

3rd District Senate race

Huge Reyes

Occupation: Cybersecurity consultant

Age: 50

Tommy Norment

Occupation: Attorney

Age: 69

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