Truth Tracker targets 85th House of Delegates race, but candidates mum about their political ads

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PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — This Truth Tracker targets the 85th House District seat, which is entirely in Virginia Beach. 

Incumbent Del. Alex Askew, a Democrat, faces Republican challenger Karen Greenhalgh, who has never held political office.  

In all the years we’ve done Truth Tracker, this is a first. Both candidates refused to be interviewed for this report following several requests over two weeks. 

Election Day is Nov. 2 this year.

We have been told both candidates likely think this is a close race, and don’t want to be put in a position where they are forced to answer questions about their commercials.  

We went looking for the candidates anyway.

We went to Askew’s home, where we asked his mother to have him call us. He never did.   

We went to the Democrat’s campaign office where we got a quick, “No comment” before we even asked a question. Then a quick “good-bye” from the political operative who showed us the door.

“Well thank you for stopping by. I’ll let Alex know you came by,” they said. 

Askew never called. Askew also refused to return submitted questions. If he had responded, we would have asked him about one of the commercials from Karen Greenhalgh.

“Are higher prices hitting your wallet? Politician Alex Askew is to blame,” the commercial says. Then, Askew responds “I voted to increase the gas tax gas.” Askew is heard confirming his vote in 2020. 

Truth Tracker finds that true: Askew did vote to raise that gas tax in 2020 to fund transportation. 

The commercial continues: “Askew also voted to raise your electric bill by $800 a year.” 

Truth Tracker also finds that true. That is the projected increase according to regulatory staff to comply with the Virginia Clean Economy Act.

The commercial goes to the next issue: “Alex even sided with defund the police radicals and voted to release violent criminals into neighborhoods.”  

It is true Askew is endorsed by the New Virginia Majority that has called on defunding police, and it is true he voted for House Bill 33 supporting more lenient parole. 

10 On Your Side also went looking for Greenhalgh and found her campaign manager Jonathon Nave. The campaign manager for two weeks has denied our requests to interview Greenhalgh, a candidate has never held elective office and really has no record for our Truth Tracker to refer to.

“Andy [Fox], if you want a one-on-one interview you have to have a scheduled time,” Nave said from his car, which he had turned around after watching 10 On Your Side go up to the locked campaign office. He had already denied our requests to interview more than once.

We reminded Nave he refused to arrange it following several requests, and refused us time to interview Greenhalgh. 

We wanted to ask her about the Askew ad now on-air blasting Greenhalgh.

“The pandemic was hard enough for small business owners,” the commercial says. 

That line was not said by Askew, but from another candidate for another office. It should be noted we have never seen that before. A candidate in another race speaking in an ad for another candidate. This one ad features civic leader and small family business owner Laura Haber, who is also running for Virginia Beach city treasurer.    

Haber lays out the point for Askew.

“When politicians like Karen Greenhalgh spread dangerous information, she is threatening people like us,” Haber said. 

The shot then goes to what appears to be a social media post of Greenhalgh saying into the camera: “I feel safer taking my chance with COVID than taking the vaccine. I don’t want to be on Facebook fainting. I don’t see a pandemic when I look at the numbers.”  

If given the chance, we would have asked Greenhalgh about her not seeing a pandemic when looking at the COVID-19 numbers. Does she believe that? 

And when her campaign sent in the 10 On Your Side questionnaire, she did not answer that question.  

Financially, Askew has raised the second most amount of campaign money in this election cycle in House of Delegate races, which comes to just under  $1.3 million, and that is second only to the Speaker of the House.

Just behind Askew is Del. Nancy Guy with just under $1.2 million. 

With those numbers, Democrats appear to be concerned these seats could flip in the election, and they are working hard to make sure they don’t.  

Both Askew and Guy had close races in 2019. Guy’s was forced into a recount and she ended up winning by 41 votes. 

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