The Republican chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and three GOP colleagues filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking to overturn a county electoral board decision against holding primary elections in June.
The lawsuit, filed in the county’s circuit court, claims that the candidates have the right to a primary election under a state law that allows political parties to determine the method for nominating their candidates for office.
It lists as plaintiffs Chairman Corey A. Stewart; Supervisors Martin E. Nohe (Coles) and Maureen S. Caddigan (Dumfries); and Glen Hill, the county sheriff. Supervisor Pete Candland (Gainesville) chose not to participate in the lawsuit because he is not facing a nomination opponent, he said.
The other Republican incumbents pursued the court action in hopes of not having to seek nominations for new terms through what could be unpredictable caucuses or firehouse canvass elections, a situation they found themselves in after the local party committee missed a state deadline for requesting primaries.
Under state law, incumbent candidates who were elected through a primary election have the option of seeking nomination for another term through another primary.
But those candidates must also be confirmed by the state department of elections, which that agency chose not to do after the paperwork requesting that action was filed 36 hours after the Feb. 24 deadline.
On Wednesday, the two Democrats on the electoral board — Chairman Keith A. Scarborough and Jane M. Reynolds — used that requirement as a basis for their vote against staging a primary election. Republican Guy Anthony Guiffré argued that the candidates still have a legal right to a primary despite the missed deadline.
“We’re going to protect our rights,” Stewart said. “More importantly, we just want to make sure Prince William County residents have the ability to vote in an open primary election.”
The lawsuit names the county’s three electoral board members as defendants, plus electoral board members in Manassas Park and the City of Manassas, where voters participate in the county sheriff’s election. Officials there have yet to decide whether to pursue a primary election.