Virginia voters elected a slate of party nominees Tuesday to compete in November’s general election, when Republicans will try to seize the state Senate from Democrats and take control of the General Assembly.
In several high-profile races, establishment candidates — Republican and Democratic — beat back political newcomers.
Arlington County Board member Barbara A. Favola easily defeated a fellow Democrat, lawyer Jaime Areizaga-Soto, in a race to fill an open Senate seat that includes parts of Arlington, Fairfax and Loudoun counties.
“People would rather have candidates talk about issues that are important to them, and that’s what I tried to do in my campaign,” said Favola, dismissing talk that her campaign was too negative.
Areizaga-Soto called Favola to concede, but in an interview later, he would not say whether he would encourage his supporters to vote for her in November.
Jeffrey M. Frederick, ousted leader of the Republican Party of Virginia and a former delegate, decisively won a hard-fought race against Tito Munoz — a small-business owner dubbed “Tito the Builder” by Sarah Palin — in a primary for a Senate seat in Fairfax and Prince William.
“We’ve got strong momentum going into the general, but we still have a tough race on our hands,” said Frederick, who faces Sen. Linda T. “Toddy” Puller (D) in November.
In the House of Delegates, Alfonso Lopez, the state’s onetime federal lobbyist, overwhelmingly defeated Stephanie Clifford, formerly of the Podesta Group, in a race all but decided Tuesday because no Republican is running.
Lopez said he would spend the next two months helping other Democrats campaign. “I’m so excited about the possibility of being a strong representative down in Richmond,” he said.
A 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook Virginia appears to have had little effect on the balloting.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) said at a news conference in Richmond that he did not have the legal authority to extend voting hours and that he did not see a reason to cancel or postpone the voting.
“We don’t believe any voter has been deprived of their vote,” McDonnell said.
Election officials said that turnout was low but that was not unexpected for an election in prime vacation season and in an off-year when no federal or statewide candidates are on the ballot.
The primary was moved from June to August after the General Assembly drew new maps to bring the 140 districts of the Democratic-controlled Senate and Republican-held House into alignment with population shifts detailed in the 2010 Census.
Republicans are in a battle to take control of the Senate, where Democrats hold a 22-to-18 majority, and hope to pick up a handful of seats in the House.
If they are successful, it would be the second time since Reconstruction that the party held the governor’s mansion, House and Senate at the same time in Virginia.
“Our party is as united as it has ever been, and we are offering Virginians qualified conservative candidates in every region of the commonwealth,” said Senate Minority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr. (R-James City).
McDonnell and House Speaker William J. Howell (Stafford) are looking for allies to pass school-choice bills, immigration enforcement, pension changes and other party priorities that have died in recent years under a Democratic-led Senate.
Senate Democrats, who lag in recruiting and fundraising, were quick to say the candidates that Republicans nominated Tuesday were too conservative to win in general elections.
“We just cinched our coming back into the majority,” said Senate Majority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax). “It’s over.”
In the 30th District, which is held by Ticer and includes parts of Arlington and Fairfax Counties as well as Alexandria, Del. Adam Ebbin (D-Alexandria), the legislature’s only openly gay member, narrowly defeated Alexandria City Council member Rob Krupicka. Arlington School Board member Libby Garvey also ran.
In the new 13th Senate District, which takes in parts of Loudoun and Prince William counties, Republicans had a three-way primary. Former Loudoun delegate Dick Black, one of the most conservative voices in the House, appears to have defeated Prince William Supervisor John T. Stirrup and Prince William chief deputy clerk and small-business owner Bob FitzSimmonds.
In the 37th Senate District, which is represented by David W. Marsden (D) and includes Fairfax, two Republicans ran in the primary — Jason Flanary, chief operating officer of a Fairfax telemarketing firm, defeated Steve Hunt, a retired naval flight officer and former Fairfax School Board member who ran for the seat before.
In the 39th Senate District held by Sen. George Barker (D), which includes Fairfax and Prince William counties as well as Alexandria, Miller Baker, a constitutional lawyer at a Washington firm, defeated Scott Martin, an assistant dean and associate professor at George Mason University, in the GOP primary.
The two other House races are in two new districts centered in growing Loudoun and Prince William.
House Republicans expect to pick up three or four seats to add to their hefty 61-member caucus. But Democrats thinks their party can be competitive in some seats, particularly new ones, which swing back and forth between the two parties.
In the primary for the new 87th District, which includes Loudoun and Prince William, Jo-Ann Chase, a real estate broker who serves on the Republican Party’s State Central Committee, lost to David Ramadan, an international consultant who considerably outspent his opponent.
In the new 10th District, which includes Clarke, Frederick and parts of Loudoun, Republicans had a three-way primary. Lawyers Randy Minchew defeated John Whitbeck and Cara Townsend, a small-business owner.
Staff writers Isaac Arnsdorf, Victor Zapana, Caitlin Gibson and Jennifer Buske contributed to this report.