Hala Ayala will now become one of the first Latina women to ever serve in Virginia’s General Assembly, knocking off four-term incumbent Del. Rich Anderson, R-51st District.
Ayala, a former cybersecurity specialist with the Department of Homeland Security and one-time head of Prince William’s chapter of the National Organization for Women, bested Anderson by 52.99 percent to 47.01 percent, with 95.45 percent of precincts reporting. The Republican had represented the district, which covers much of Prince William County, since he first won election in 2009.
Anderson has only faced one challenger after narrowly knocking off Democrat Paul Nichols, but Ayala proved to be quite well-financed — she raised more than $698,000 in all, compared to Anderson’s $427,000. The Democrat’s total placed 15th in the entire state.
Ayala now becomes just the third person of Hispanic descent to serve in the General Assembly, and only the second Democrat to hold the seat since 1998.
But the district has long been tilting blue on the national level — in 2016, voters in the 51st picked Hillary Clinton over President Donald Trump by a 50 percent to 43 percent margin. It was one of 17 in the state to vote for Clinton, yet be represented by a Republican in Richmond.
“She’s a candidate we’ve tried to recruit for years to run against Rich Anderson, who’s voted with the conservative majority for a long, long time,” House Minority Leader David Toscano, D-57th District, said on a call with reporters before the election.
Ayala handily won a June primary against Ken Boddye, and ran primarily on expanding Medicaid eligibility in the state, protecting access to abortion and contraception for women and raising teacher salaries.