The newly drawn Virginia Senate District 11 includes Albemarle, Amherst and Nelson counties, Charlottesville City, and part of Louisa County. Creigh Deeds (D) and Philip Andrew Hamilton (R) are seeking to represent the new district in the Senate of Virginia.
Deeds has served in the General Assembly since 1992. He became a senator in 2001 representing District 25. He defeated Del. Sally Hudson in the Democratic primary for the new District 11.
Hamilton ran to represent the 57th District in the House of Delegates in 2021, but lost to Hudson. He became the Republican candidate this year when the primary was canceled.
Charlottesville Tomorrow sent a brief Q&A to the state candidates, informed by more than 200 responses to a voter survey this summer. The candidates responded by email. Their answers are here in the order they were received.
Many Americans feel political parties are becoming more polarized. Do you see this happening in your district? If so, how do you feel it affects our government?
Philip Andrew Hamilton: I believe in the inherent goodness of our voters who seek what is best for our communities and for our state. I have been doorknocking since January 2023 and I have had civil conversations with Democrats, Independents and Republicans alike on issues surrounding education, taxes, our economy and term limits. As a leader I have been working on getting the support of Democrats and Independents on common sense ideas, such as a School Resource Officer mandate for every public school in Virginia and a ban on gender reassignment surgeries for children under the age of 18.
In the 11th Senate District, I do not see greater polarization, rather I see many who are willing to listen to my message regardless of their political affiliation. Since 2020, greater polarization has occurred in other parts of the country, and people vote with their feet. If they don’t like the state that they live in, they will move to another state that best follows their political preferences.
Creigh Deeds: Parties have certainly become more polarized. Politics and society in general is more polarized than it used to be. I think polarization does affect the ability of government to work. This is most notable at the national level, though it has crept into Virginia politics and impedes our ability to compromise and get things done, particularly with a divided legislature and the Governor being of a different party. You have to find ways to work together and get things done. Your job as a legislator is to make government work on behalf of the people you represent, and polarization cannot be an excuse for failure.
What is your position on Youngkin’s proposal to limit abortion access after 15 weeks of pregnancy?
Hamilton: In July 2023, during a candidate training hosted by the Republican Senate Caucus, Virginia Secretary of State Kay Coles James spoke to multiple Republican senate candidates, including myself, about the “compassionate compromise” that she believes a 15-week limit on abortion access provides. My counter argument is that over 90% of abortions occur within the first 15 weeks and that it offers minimal protection for the unborn. Therefore, I would support a bill that gives greater protection for the unborn, and if that fails, then I would support the 15-week limit to abortion access in Virginia.
Editor’s Note: James stepped down as the secretary of the commonwealth in Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s cabinet in Aug. 2023. While we cannot find a public record of James using the term “compassionate compromise” with candidates, she has supported the 15-week abortion limitations in the past. In 2020, she wrote for the Heritage Foundation: “The issue of life cannot be compromised.”
Deeds: I oppose the Governor’s proposal. I support existing law that roughly follows the dictates of Roe v. Wade. I would work to embed that standard into the Constitution of Virginia thus making abortion access more difficult to restrict.
*Editor’s note: Virginia law currently allows for abortions under any circumstances until the end of the second trimester, or within the first 26 weeks of pregnancy. Abortion in the third trimester is legal only if it is necessary to save the woman’s life or if continuing the pregnancy would “irremediably impair” her physical or mental health.
What is your position on Virginia’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)?
Hamilton: As a freshman senator I would host committee meetings on the financial impacts of the RGGI. After digging into the financial impacts, in our state, I would make a decision on what elements of the RGGI are deemed to be effective and ineffective.
Deeds: I support participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The climate crisis is existential, and RGGI has worked well for Virginia so far. We have used the hundreds of millions of dollars it has produced to increase resiliency throughout the state and to ameliorate some of the flood damage that has occurred.
Many cities have seen an increase in gun violence since the pandemic. What would you as a legislator support doing to address this public health crisis?
Hamilton: I support our sacred 2nd Amendment Rights and have been endorsed by the Virginia Citizens Defense League. I believe that gun free zones and bans on gun ownership for law abiding citizens reduce public safety because it emboldens criminals to commit murder in gun free zones. The guns are not the problem, because if we were to hypothetically ban all firearms, those with mental health issues would still commit violence with knives and other lethal tools. Our focus needs to be addressing mental health issues and providing resources to our mental health institutions.
Editor’s note: There is not much evidence that people with mental health illness are more likely to commit gun violence, however most gun deaths are suicides which are connected to mental health illness. A podcast on NPR, a news report from ABC, and a report published by the Association of American Medical Colleges offer more information on this topic.
Deeds: I support enacting a ban on assault-style weapons and on “ghost guns.” I support banning the possession of firearms on college campuses. And I think we need to examine other laws and programs to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our communities safe. I know there are some people who blame mental health for gun violence, but that is a cop out. We have work to do to improve our mental health system and ensure resources are available to anyone who needs them, but the supply of firearms on our streets is a huge problem.
Editor’s note: “Ghost guns” are firearms that individuals make themselves, sometimes assembling them using kits that come with all the necessary parts.
Like elsewhere in the country, political candidates in Virginia are receiving millions of dollars in campaign contributions this election. What effect do you see this having on state and local government in Virginia?
Hamilton: In Virginia there is no limit to campaign contributions. My opponent, Senator Creigh Deeds, has raised over $1.5 million and has accepted large amounts of money from corporations such as Dominion Energy. I’ve been endorsed from Big Money Out Virginia because I support a cap on corporation donations at $25,000 per year.
I believe many politicians, representing both major political parties, are being bought out from Dominion Energy and other special interest groups. Without a cap in place the voice of corporations will trump the voice of the people.
Editor’s note: As of Nov. 5, Deeds has raised $1.48 million for this election, beginning Jan. 2020. He raised $109,700 from Dominion Energy for prior elections, according to the Virginia Public Access Project. Hamilton has raised $21,200, according to VPAP.
Deeds: Campaign finance is in serious need of reform in Virginia. I worry that this much money creates the perception of wrongdoing. We ought to be about restoring confidence in our electoral system, and I am currently working on some ideas to reduce the influence of money on campaigns. In the past, I have supported contribution limits and restrictions on campaign contributions from regulated utilities.
Are there any other pressing issues facing your district you want voters to know about?
Hamilton: I am in full support of school choice because I believe it is necessary to empower parents with the choice to take their children to private schools, with taxpayer funded vouchers, if they are not satisfied with the performance in their public schools. In Albemarle County, we have a shortage of school bus drivers and lower student performance standards in spite of all of the money going into the public schools. If school choice were to become the law tomorrow I believe many Albemarle County parents would pull their kids out of the public schools and place them into private schools, which would force the public schools to seriously address the bus driver shortage and the performance of their students if the schools lost a significant number of students.
I support passing Sage’s Law, which would require public schools to notify parents if their child goes by a different gender identity than the one assigned to them at birth. I support passing a law treating the distribution of fentanyl as a homicide, to deter drug dealers from illegally selling that drug in our commonwealth. I support reversing the ban on internal combustible engines that would put us on the same standards as the state of California. I support increasing the pay of public school teachers and for our Virginia State Troopers. I support cutting the gasoline tax, the sales tax and other taxes. I support keeping marijuana sales legal in the state of Virginia.
Deeds: The issues that affect this district are like issues affecting every community throughout Virginia. We have to better fund K-12 education and make higher education and workforce training programs more accessible to more people. We have to build long-term resiliency in our energy supply and take seriously our commitment to carbon-free energy. We have to protect our precious natural resources. We have to build a healthcare system that responds to people’s needs in every corner of Virginia. We have to be opportunistic and look for ways to build an economy that allows every community to thrive in the 21st century and beyond.
More about the candidates for to represent the 50th District in the House of Delegates
- Campaign finances for this race, from the Virginia Public Access Project
- More about the 11th District, from Virginia Public Access Project
- A Cavalier Daily profile of the two candidates
- Q&As with the two candidates, for subscribers to the Daily Progress
- A segment on WSET with the candidates, focused on education
- A profile of Hamilton in Charlottesville Tomorrow’s 2021 Voter Guide
- A report on Charlottesville Tomorrow’s forum for the Democratic primary
- Virginia Public Access Project’s Pre-Election Campaign Finance Reports
- More about the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) from Charlottesville Tomorrow
As you get ready to vote, here are some key dates and links from the Virginia Department of Elections:
Polls in Virginia close at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, night. The Virginia Department of Elections will publish election results in real time, as they arrive from precincts around the state. To view them, head to this link. These are unofficial results until they are certified. Here’s more about how to get election results.
- Sept. 22: First day of in-person early voting at your local registrar’s office.
- Oct. 16: Deadline to register to vote, or update an existing registration. You can also register after this date, and on election day, but you will vote with a provisional ballot, could take longer for officials to count because they will verify your eligibility.
- Oct. 27: Deadline to apply for a ballot to be mailed to you. Your request must be received by your local registrar by 5:00 p.m.
- Oct. 28: Voter registration offices open for early voting.
- Nov. 4: The last day of in-person early voting at your registrar.
- Nov. 7: Election Day. Here is where you can find your polling place.
Need to know if you’re eligible to vote? Here are resources from the Virginia Department of Elections.