Rep. Morgan Griffith, a Republican from Salem, won his reelection to his sixth term representing Virginia’s 9th Congressional District. Griffith on Tuesday defeated Taysha DeVaughan, his Democratic challenger.
By 11 p.m., the Republican incumbent was ahead with 74% of the vote, with DeVaughan trailing behind with 26%, with 419 of 452 precincts reporting, making it a mathematical impossibility for the Democrat to catch up.
Griffith, 64, was first elected to Congress in 2011, following a 17-year career as a state delegate, including 10 years as the Majority Leader. Since his arrival in Washington, Griffith has won reelection six times, every time by a wide margin. The 9th District has become so reliably Republican that in 2020 Griffith ran unopposed, securing 94.4% of the vote.
But this year he faced a challenge from DeVaughan, a community organizer from Wise County who decided to run after Democrats one year ago lost Virginia’s governorship and Republicans won back the majority in the House of Delegates.
“We felt defeated as Democrats,” DeVaughan told Cardinal News in a recent interview. “I stand for the working class, I stand for human rights, and for the disenfranchised living in poverty. The Democratic Party champions all those things, and that’s why I decided to challenge Congressman Griffith as a Democrat.”
DeVaughan, 32, knew that ousting Griffith would be a major undertaking in a recently redrawn district that covers a large swath of southwestern Virginia, including the New River Valley and the Virginia side of the Tri-Cities.
When Griffith found his hometown Salem in a newly redrawn 6th District approved by the Virginia Supreme Court last December, he announced that he would run again in the 9th, because members of Congress are not required to live in the district they represent. This move avoided facing Rep. Ben Cline, R-Botetourt County, the incumbent in the 6th, in a primary challenge over the Republican nomination in that district.
Stephen J. Farnsworth, a political scientist at the University of Mary Washington, said that the 9th District has become increasingly Republican in recent years due to redistricting and socio-economic changes, making it increasingly difficult for a Democratic challenger to be successful.
“Congressman Griffith was a strong favorite going into this contest, and the results on Tuesday demonstrated that the smart money knew this outcome a while ago,” Farnsworth said, referring to the Republican’s significant financial advantage.
As of Oct. 19 – the deadline for the most recent reporting period – Griffith had raised $755,000 for his reelection campaign, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonprofit tracking money in politics. By the same time, DeVaughan had raised just about $56,000, much of which she invested in several billboards across the district highlighting Griffith’s votes against legislation that she said benefited his constituents.