Pat Mullins, chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia, said the low Democratic turnout translated into a weak ticket “incapable of winning in November.”
“The lack of enthusiasm from Virginia Democrats is understandable given that this is a ticket that is not focused on nor is credible on the primary concern of Virginians: creating jobs,” he said in a statement.
But Democratic Party Chairwoman Charniele Herring said the Democrats’ focus on jobs, transportation and education “couldn’t be more opposite of the extreme ideological agenda and rhetoric of the Cuccinelli-Jackson-Obenshain ticket.”
At the Lake Anne Elementary School precinct in reliably Democratic Reston, 50 of the 3,100 registered voters — less than 2 percent — had cast ballots Tuesday afternoon.
Among them was 78-year-old Arnold Moses. The retired CPA arrived uncertain of his vote even though he felt he had been bombarded by mailings and ads. But he also said he was confident about the Democrats’ chances in November.
After casting a ballot, Moses emerged to say only that he had split his ticket by race: He picked a person of color in one race and a white candidate in the other.
“They all sounded good,” he said. “I had to make a choice.”
In 2012, about 73 percent of the precinct voted for Obama, compared with 25 percent for GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. In 2009, about 66 percent of the precinct backed state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds (D-Bath) in his unsuccessful run for governor against McDonnell.
In Loudoun, registrar Judy Brown said turnout across the county was lighter than expected. “A lot of the precincts were still in the single digits at 10 o’clock, which is terrible,” she said.
At Potomac Middle School in Prince William County, Sophie Doane had the voting stations to herself at 6:30 a.m., a stark difference from the November presidential election, when the wait to vote was at times four hours long.
Doane, 58, said she voted for Herring and Northam because she thought that they were most likely to work on transportation solutions. Public officials, she said, “keep building more places but not more roads.”
In Henrico County outside of Richmond, Adele and David Karp wanted to help Democrats choose nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general even though they didn’t see too much difference between the candidates.
“I could have flipped a coin,” David Karp, a 63-year-old lawyer, said after casting his ballot at Maybeury Elementary School.
“It’s important, especially for this county that has traditionally gone red but has been blue recently, to see that we’ve got a lot of Democrats who care,” said Adele Karp, also 63 and a clinical social worker.
At Emerick Elementary School in Purcellville, signs for May and LaRock lined the entrance to the parking lot.
But not all voters in the conservative-leaning town had come to vote in the Republican primary. Kevin Feeney, who moved there from Falls Church with his wife just a month ago, said he’d come out to support Fairfax.
Feeney said he didn’t have particularly strong feelings against Herring but thought Fairfax was more impressive. “I saw a blurb about his credentials, and they looked pretty good,” he said.
Jeremy Borden, Stefanie Dazio, Caitlin Gibson, Fredrick Kunkle and Laura Vozzella contributed to this report.