Voters to complete Democratic ticket in Virginia primary


Virginia Democratic candidates for Lt. Governor, Aneesh Chopra, right, and Ralph Northam, 2nd from right, talk with debate moderator Rex Simmons during brunch at Springfield Golf and Country Club Sunday June 2, 2013. (Dayna Smith/For The Washington Post)
June 11, 2013

Voters across Virginia will round out the state’s Democratic ticket Tuesday, with candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general on the primary ballot. Democratic and Republican nominees in several House races will be selected as well.

Democrats will decide whether Aneesh Chopra of Arlington County or state Sen. Ralph S. Northam (D-Norfolk) gets the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor and will choose between Justin Fairfax of Alexandria and state Sen. Mark R. Herring of Loudoun for attorney general.

Terry McAuliffe is the Democratic nominee against state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) in November’s much anticipated governor’s race.

Republicans chose E.W. Jackson for lieutenant governor in a party convention last month in Richmond. The Chesapeake minister defeated six competitors for the GOP nod, riding a wave of grass-roots support that bested better-funded campaigns. Since then, Jackson has drawn criticism for his views on homosexuality, abortion and race, but he has said his statements are based on his Christian faith.

Chopra, who has not held public office, served as secretary of technology under former governor Timothy M. Kaine (D) and was the first chief technology officer under President Obama. On the campaign trail, Chopra has emphasized training and innovation as keys to job creation in the state.

Candidate guide to the 2013 Virginia primary election

Northam, a pediatric neurologist, was elected to the Senate in 2007. He has promoted his record in the chamber on issues that include health, the environment and gun control and has made education a centerpiece of his candidacy.

The lieutenant governor’s office has taken on weighted meaning in recent years. As president of an evenly divided Senate, the lieutenant governor holds the tie-breaking vote in the chamber.

For their attorney general nominee, Republicans chose state Sen. Mark D. Obenshain of Harrisonburg. Obenshain, who has served in the Senate since 2004, comes from a storied Virginia political family and has said he plans to continue in the tradition of Cuccinelli — who has challenged the federal government on health care and environmental regulation — if elected.

Fairfax, a former federal prosecutor who has not held elective office, has pointed to his law-and-order credentials as his main qualification for the post. Herring has reminded voters of his work in the Senate, where he has served since 2006, on issues that include elder abuse, drug abuse and voting.

The Virginia attorney general’s office has become a launching pad for higher office, especially for Republicans. Democrats have not elected an attorney general in Virginia in nearly a generation, and several recent attorneys general have either run for or become governor.

Voters also will choose general election candidates in three Democratic House races and eight Republican House contests. Turnout was not expected to be high in these off-year primary races, especially because there are no gubernatorial candidates on the ballot.

In 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 believed that they were most likely to work on transportation solutions. Public officials, she said, “keep building more places, but not more roads.”

Polls will be open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Jeremy Borden contributed to this report.

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