Big Election Year Virginia picks its governor and other top state officials in the year after a presidential election. Because it's one of only two states that hold major elections in such years (New Jersey being the other), Virginia draws a lot of national attention. Politicians, their managers and interest groups test arguments and tactics for future campaigns.

The Basics On Tuesday, Virginians will pick some of the Republican and Democratic candidates who will face each other in the Nov. 8 general election for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general. Primaries for delegate will be held in 19 House districts.

Voting Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. The commonwealth does not register voters by party, and the primaries are open to any registered voter. People can vote in one or the other, but not both.

What to Watch For Politicians and pundits consider former attorney general Jerry W. Kilgore the front-runner in the Republican gubernatorial primary against Warrenton Mayor George B. Fitch, founder of the Jamaican bobsled team that went to the 1988 Winter Olympics. Party leaders hope the nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general will help the gubernatorial candidates. In the House races, attention will focus on the fate of the Republican delegates who defied their party leaders last year and voted for tax increases. Six face primaries.

In The Post Voters Guides were published Thursday in the Northern Virginia Extras.

On the Web Candidate profiles and campaign articles, a guide to the primaries and a campaign blog can be found at www.washingtonpost.com/metro.