Del. Dawn Adams, D-Richmond, retained her seat in House District 68 on Tuesday by beating Republican challenger Garrison Coward.
Two years ago, Adams, a health care professional, first won the seat, edging Del. Manoli Loupassi, R-Richmond, by 347 votes. Loupassi, a former member of the Richmond City Council, had held the seat for 10 years.
Coward, a centrist, African American millennial, works for a predictive analytics firm in Richmond. He had been touted by Republicans as a conservative alternative for suburban voters in the 68th District, which spans Richmond's West End, parts of northern Chesterfield County and a sliver of Henrico County.
He could not match Adams' financial advantage, which included key support from donors such as financier Michael Bills, Gov. Ralph Northam and Emily's List, a national group that supports Democratic female candidates.
Adams emphasized her "three decades" of experience in health care, as a nurse and also a high-ranking employee of the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services.
Coward, formerly an aide to Rep. Rob Wittman, R-1st, has never held public office, but hoped to represent the voices of millennials and conservative African Americans.
Coward said in an interview that raising teacher pay and expanding public schooling options for people in the district was at the top of his platform. Coward says he supports charter schools, publicly funded, privately operated schools in Richmond and surrounding areas.
Over the summer Adams become entangled in a lawsuit filed by a former aide, Maureen Hains. She is accusing the delegate of hacking into her personal email records to delete files related to work Hains performed for Adams' medical consulting business.