Virginia June 23 primary includes Senate, House races

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Gov. Ralph Northam (D) moved the date of the primary from June 9 to June 23 and encouraged voters to cast absentee ballots, in hopes of reducing the possibility of the spread of the coronavirus at polling places.

Unlike states such as Maryland, Virginia did not take the step of automatically mailing ballots to registered voters. But the state waived a requirement that a witness sign the outside of each absentee ballot and made it easier for people to request absentee ballots.

In the 5th District, Democrats requested 20,929 ballots and returned 10,637, according to an analysis of the data from the Virginia Public Access Project. In the 2nd District, Republicans requested 9,187 ballots and returned 4,580, it found.

Counties and cities will count absentee ballots received by 7 p.m. Tuesday.

Turnout on Tuesday is expected to be low, making for uncertain results, said Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“If you have a turnout of 2 to 5 percent, anything can happen, because you’re talking about a few thousand votes,” he said. “If it’s a very low-turnout election, it doesn’t take many votes to create a surprise.”

Here is a rundown of the congressional races:

Republican Senate primary

Gade, a retired Army lieutenant colonel whose leg was amputated after he was wounded in Iraq, worked in the administration of President George W. Bush and is a professor at American University. He has far outraised his competition and has the support of the party’s establishment leaders.

Baldwin, a civics and economics teacher in Nottoway County Public Schools, is a member of the National Rifle Association and the Virginia Citizens Defense League, another gun rights group, and a former emergency medical technician.

Speciale, who lives in Woodbridge, is an Army reservist and Cub Scouts master who owns a firearms training company and says on his website that he wants to “fight against the Socialist agenda to take away our rights to protect ourselves and protect our children.”

Warner is seeking a third term on the strength of his reputation as a bipartisan centrist and popular former Virginia governor who has investigated Russian interference in U.S. elections as vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Virginia has not elected a Republican in a statewide contest in more than a decade.

2nd District

The national parties are watching the three-way Republican primary to nominate a challenger to Luria in a Virginia district that, Kidd noted, has had the most turnover in the state in the past 20 years.

The nonpartisan analysts at the Cook Political Report consider the general election a toss-up.

Jarome Bell, Ben Loyola Jr. and former congressman Scott W. Taylor are vying for the GOP nomination.

Taylor is a former Navy SEAL, a native of Maryland’s Eastern Shore and a former state lawmaker who was elected to Congress to represent this district in 2016. He was defeated by Luria in the 2018 blue wave, amid an increase in anti-Trump sentiment and a scandal over fraudulent signatures that his campaign collected to help a potential spoiler candidate get on the ballot. Taylor is the front-runner for the nomination based on his fundraising and how widely known he is in the district, Kidd said.

Loyola is a retired Navy captain and defense contractor whose family fled communist Cuba when he was 2 years old. Bell is a retired naval chief petty officer who runs a business helping high school athletes secure college scholarships.

5th District

The four-way Democratic primary in an expansive central and Southside Virginia district garnered national attention this month when GOP voters nominated a self-described Christian conservative, Bob Good, over Riggleman.

Democrats say the newly open seat gives them a shot at winning for the first time since Tom Perriello won a single term in 2008, before the tea party ousted him in part for voting for the Affordable Care Act.

R.D. Huffstetler, a Marine veteran and former congressional chief of staff with Silicon Valley experience; John Lesinski, a retired Marine Corps colonel and former elected official in Rappahannock County who works in commercial real estate; Claire Russo, a former Marine intelligence officer and advocate for victims of military sexual assault; and Cameron Webb, a physician, former White House fellow and health policy researcher.

“Ultimately, it’s going to be the person who was already tilling the soil and planting the seeds of getting their voters to turn out long before there was any idea this could be a good year for Democrats in the fifth,” Kidd said.

The Cook Political Report changed the race from “likely Republican” to “leans Republican” after Good won the GOP nomination.

1st District

Two Democrats are vying for the chance to challenge Rep. Rob Wittman (R) in the solidly red district. They are Qasim Rashid, a human rights lawyer, and Vangie Williams, a strategic planner who was the party’s 2018 nominee.

3rd District

Three Republicans are seeking the nomination to challenge Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D), the longest-serving member of the Virginia congressional delegation and chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor.

They are: John Collick, a Marine veteran; Madison Downs, a teacher and community developer; and George Yacus, a former Navy pilot and consultant for the U.S. Coast Guard.

Scott will be heavily favored in a district that is overwhelmingly Democratic.

4th District

Rep. Donald A. McEachin (D), an attorney and former state senator first elected to Congress in 2016, faces a long-shot challenge from technology consultant Cazel Levine.

11th District

Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D), a member of the House Oversight Committee who has served in Congress since 2009, also has a challenger, activist Zainab Mohsini. Before being elected to Congress, Connolly chaired the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

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