Del. Amanda Batten wins third term in House District 71

November 8, 2023

Voters in Williamsburg, James City and New Kent counties gave Republican Del. Amanda Batten a third term in the Virginia House of Delegates.

The Associated Press called the House District 71 race for Batten at 1:07 a.m. on Wednesday. With all precincts reporting, Batten secured 51.93% of the vote — 17,968, to Democratic challenger Jessica Anderson’s 48.01% — 16,611, according to unofficial results.

Uncounted are provisional ballots cast on Election Day. A number of William & Mary students stood in line to vote on Tuesday in Williamsburg — many of them registered the same day and voted provisionally.

Election officials said there were about 300 provisional votes cast in James City County and about 700 in Williamsburg. Those votes cannot be reported until Monday, and results will be certified sometime next week.

Batten, 44, has represented House District 96 for two terms, but statewide redistricting put her in the new District 71. The redrawn district includes all of James City County and Williamsburg, and part of New Kent County.

Batten said this campaign was different than her two previous runs for office because the legislative lines had shifted and much of her messaging was informing voters of the change. She indicated that General Assembly elections like this year’s are considered an “off-off year” because they align neither with national elections nor with the Virginia gubernatorial race.

But she was nevertheless pleased with the turnout. “I’m glad that so many people in the 71st District realized the importance of these races,” she said.

Among the themes that Batten concentrated on in her campaign were good governance, maintaining high academic standards, keeping the cost of living affordable and having smart energy policies.

Anderson’s campaign focused on several issues that arouse strong feelings among the electorate, among them abortion and public schools.

In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Anderson said, Virginia is at a crossroads, with the prospect of much more restrictive abortion laws on the line.

Support for public schools also drove many voters to the polls, said Anderson, 41, a public school employee and parent. She said that while some might have been motivated by the culture wars, many families she heard from simply wanted adequate public school funding to make sure that classrooms were fully staffed.

House of Delegates candidate Jessica Anderson speaks with fellow Democrats on election night at The Corner Pocket in New Town. Ben Swenson/freelance
House of Delegates candidate Jessica Anderson speaks with fellow Democrats on election night at The Corner Pocket in New Town. Ben Swenson/freelance

Anderson said that her stances were in line with majority opinions on issues, and that just in the last week, she heard from 10 people who crossed party lines to vote for her. One man she spoke to said that while he normally votes Republican, he cast his ballot for her because he agreed with her opinions on gun storage laws.

Abortion was another issue that caused many voters to buck the party line, according to Anderson. “A lot of Republicans, especially a lot of Republican women, don’t want to see abortion access restricted,” she said.

Batten expressed gratitude for all those not only who supported her campaign, but offered her feedback along the way. “I’m grateful and I’m humbled,” she said.

Anderson, too, was appreciative for all those who took time to help her along the way. “Thank you for believing in me,” she said.

Ben Swenson, [email protected]