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Virginia Voters Pick Party Nominees

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Ed Gillespie (AP)

Tuesday, 13 Jun 2017 09:02 PM

Virginia voters picked their parties' nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and dozens of House of Delegates races on Tuesday, plus local contests in some areas.

Polls closed at 7 p.m.

GOVERNOR

By far, the most closely watched races were between the five candidates running to be Virginia's next governor.

On the Democratic side, Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam defeated former congressman Tom Perriello. Northam stressed his pragmatic approach and ability to work with Republicans, while Perriello ran a more liberal campaign, promising to raise taxes on the wealthy to pay for social programs.

The Republican contest between Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie, Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner was too close to call early Tuesday evening.

Gillespie is a moderate GOP insider who advised former President George W. Bush and has a more than $2 million cash advantage over his challengers.

Wagner has emphasized his experience as a businessman, military veteran and longtime lawmaker. He's accused Gillespie of trying to mislead voters with unrealistic promises to cut taxes as governor, while calling for a gas tax increase himself to pay for transportation projects.

Stewart, an ardent supporter of President Donald Trump, has made preserving Confederate history a top priority, along with immigration, saying he wants any person living in the country illegally who is arrested in Virginia to be deported, "no questions asked."

Virginia and New Jersey are the only states set to elect governors this year, and the contest in the Old Dominion is attracting broad national attention as a possible early referendum on Trump ahead of the 2018 midterm elections.

LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR

Both parties had a three-way primary for lieutenant governor, a largely ceremonial position that's often a stepping stone to higher office.

Republican Sens. Jill Vogel and Bryce Reeves and Del. Glenn Davis sought their party's nomination. Davis has run a business-focused race; Reeves has touted his conservative credentials; and Vogel, who has a big fundraising lead, has promised to put "principle over party."

On the Democratic side, attorney Justin Fairfax snagged front-runner status, with dozens of endorsements from state officials and a fundraising lead. Challenging him was Gene Rossi, a retired federal prosecutor who vowed to work on criminal justice reform, as well as Susan Platt, a longtime political operative and former lobbyist who's made a point of attacking Trump's policies. None of the Democrats has ever held public office, though Fairfax narrowly lost the 2013 Democratic primary for attorney general to Mark Herring.

The lieutenant governor is a part-time position that involves presiding over the state Senate and breaking tied votes.

HOUSE OF DELEGATES

Democrats have seen a surge in candidates for the House of Delegates this year, where they have a longshot at taking back control of the chamber from Republicans in November.

All 100 House seats are up for election this year. On Tuesday, there were 27 primary races, though candidates in two districts dropped out since the ballots were printed.

Twenty primaries were in Democratic districts, with incumbents being challenged in four. Among them was Democratic Minority Leader David Toscano, who represents Charlottesville and part of Albemarle County. He faced Ross Mittiga, a teacher and researcher at the University of Virginia.

In the most crowded Democratic primary, four candidates faced off for the chance to take on Del. Bob Marshall, a long-serving ultraconservative who sponsored this year's failed North Carolina-style bathroom bill that generally would have prohibited individuals from using a bathroom of the opposite sex in government-owned buildings.

Republicans have seven primaries. Among those, two incumbents — Ron Villanueva, who represents part of Chesapeake and Virginia Beach, and Bobby Orrock, who represents parts of Caroline and Spotsylvania counties — faced primary challengers.

It's typically tough to unseat an incumbent. All six being challenged this year have big fundraising leads over their opponents.

The most crowded GOP primary is a six-way contest for outgoing Del. Peter Farrell's seat.

OTHER RACES

There's no primary for Virginia's other statewide elected office, attorney general. Voters in November will choose between incumbent Mark Herring or Republican John Adams, a partner at the Richmond law firm McGuireWoods.

Voters in some areas narrowed the pool of candidates in local contests, including city council and commonwealth's attorney races.

Associated Press writer Alan Suderman contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

   
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Virginia voters picked their parties' nominees for governor, lieutenant governor and dozens of House of Delegates races on Tuesday, plus local contests in some areas.Polls closed at 7 p.m.GOVERNORBy far, the most closely watched races were between the five candidates...
VA, Virginia Election, News Guide
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2017-02-13
Tuesday, 13 Jun 2017 09:02 PM
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