[Issues of race and scandal pulse through Virginia primary contest]
Democrats are competing in primaries to decide nominees for a total of 23 legislative seats this year, including an unusual number of seats — nine — held by incumbents. The party’s progressive wing is boosting candidates
viewed as friendlier than some longtime Democratic lawmakers when it comes to the environment, immigrants and women’s rights. State Sen. Richard L. Saslaw of Fairfax, the minority leader in the state Senate, is facing his first challenger
in 40 years. Progressives have attacked Saslaw and others for taking campaign donations from Dominion Energy, the state’s largest utility and corporate political donor, and several candidates have pledged not to take any Dominion money this cycle.
On the Republican side, there are contests for the GOP nominations in a total of 12 legislative races. Six incumbents face challengers, including three — Del. Christopher K. Peace (R-Hanover), Del. Robert M. Thomas Jr. (R-Stafford) and Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta) — who joined Democrats last year in a vote to expand Medicaid coverage to low-income Virginians. They are being targeted by challengers from the right wing of the party
Peace says he won a June 1 “firehouse primary” to be the GOP nominee, but challenger Scott Wyatt says he beat Peace at a nominating convention. Their fight may end up in court. Hanger’s opponent, Tina Freitas, is married to Del. Nicholas J. Freitas (R-Culpeper); the couple is aiming to become a husband-and-wife team in the General Assembly.
Virginia’s primaries are open to all voters.