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Postponed primary ready for regional voters to choose Senate and House candidates

It’s been postponed due to pandemic, prolonged by court order and thinned by political party conventions, but Central Virginians still will get a chance to weigh on which candidates they want to see on a November ballot.

Virginia’s primary election for U.S. Senate and House of Representatives seats will finally take place Tuesday. Races will include a statewide Republican primary for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat Mark R. Warner and a Democratic primary for the 5th Congressional District currently held by Republican Denver Riggleman.

Riggleman will not be in the election, however; he was voted down in a 5th District Republican convention that instead appointed Campbell County resident Bob Good to run in November.

The state primary election was originally planned for June 9, but was pushed off by Gov. Ralph Northam in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Conducting an election in the middle of this global pandemic would bring unprecedented challenges and potential risk to voters and those who work at polling places across the Commonwealth,” Northam said when making the April 8 announcement.

“This is about protecting the health and safety of Virginians during this pandemic and ensuring our citizens can make their voices heard in a safe, fair, and uniform manner,” he said.

Northam wasn’t the only one looking for more time as state Republicans sought and received an April 14 deadline extension to select a candidate for the 7th Congressional District to contest the seat currently held by incumbent Democrat Abigail Spanberger, of Henrico County.

The district includes residents of Orange and Louisa counties.

The party will hold a convention July 18 to choose a nominee. The convention was originally scheduled for April 25.

Central Virginia voters will join the rest of the state in having a chance to cast a ballot for one of the Republicans vying to face Warner. They are Daniel M. Gade, of Alexandria; Thomas A. Speciale, of Woodbridge; and Alissa A. Baldwin, of Lunenburg County.

Voters in Fluvanna, Greene, Madison, Albemarle, Nelson and Buckingham counties as well as those in Charlottesville will get the chance to choose between Democratic candidates R. D. Huffstetler Jr., of Charlottesville; Dr. B. Cameron Webb, of Albemarle County; Claire C. Russo, of Earlysville; and John D. Lesinski, of Rappahannock County.

But voters in the 5th District must choose between voting in the Republican Senate primary or the district’s Democratic primary.

According to state law, any registered voter may cast a ballot in a primary election in Virginia without regard to their party affiliation but may only vote for the candidates from one party.

“All persons qualified to vote … may vote at the primary,” the law states. “No person shall vote for the candidates of more than one party.”

While any registered voter in Virginia may cast a ballot in a party primary, conventions are restricted to members of the particular party.

Seeking the nomination at the Republican 7th District convention are state Del. Nick Freitas, R-Culpeper; Del. John McGuire, R-Goochland; Tina Ramirez, of Richmond; Andrew Knaggs, of Hanover County; Pete Greenwald, of Midlothian; and Jason Roberge, of Spotsylvania.

Many voters this year have opted to fill in absentee ballots rather than voting in person due to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.

According to state law, those absentee ballots need to be returned to voter registrars by 7 p.m. Tuesday, which is the time polls close for walk-in voters.

The polls are open for in-person voting from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

In Albemarle County, voting officials recently announced two changes in polling places. Northside precinct voters will cast ballots at Laurel Hill Baptist Church, at 3595 Grand Forks Blvd. Branchlands voters will vote at the Virginia Institute of Autism, at 491 Hillsdale Drive.


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