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Virginia gives Freitas, Good and others a pass on campaign filing error

Virginia state Del. Nick Freitas(R) in the State House in Richmond.
Virginia state Del. Nick Freitas(R) in the State House in Richmond. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

RICHMOND — Virginia's State Board of Elections on Tuesday granted Republican state Del. Nicholas J. Freitas and seven other congressional hopefuls more time to file candidate paperwork, sparing them from having to run costly write-in campaigns.

Freitas, a state lawmaker from Culpeper hoping to take on freshman Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) in November, missed the registration deadline this year — as he did last year when he ran for his third term in the General Assembly.

Last year’s error forced him to run for the General Assembly as a write-in candidate, an effort bankrolled by GOP megadonor Richard Uihlein of Illinois, who donated $500,000. Freitas won his solidly red district by double digits.

Challenging Spanberger as a write-in would have been far more daunting in a swing congressional district that is anchored in the Richmond suburbs and has trended blue since President Trump took office four years ago.

Freitas is one of six Republicans competing for his party’s nomination, which will be decided at a convention on July 18.

The elections board voted 2 to 1 Tuesday to grant the extensions, with Chairman Robert H. Brink and Vice Chairman John O’Bannon in favor and Secretary Jamilah D. LeCruise opposed. Brink said he would urge the General Assembly to consider changing the law so the board could impose a sanction less draconian than the only one currently available: refusing to put the late filer’s name on the ballot.

Among the other congressional hopefuls who had missed the deadline was Bob Good, a former Liberty University fundraiser who last month upset freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Va.) for the GOP nomination in central Virginia’s 5th District.

Freitas’s opponents in the Republican nominating convention are Del. John J. McGuire III (Goochland), a former Navy SEAL; Andrew Knaggs, a former Defense Department official in the Trump administration; Tina Ramirez, founder of an international nonprofit; Peter Greenwald, a retired Navy commander and high school teacher; and Jason Roberge, a Coast Guard veteran.

National parties are closely watching this fall’s matchups in the 7th and 5th districts in Virginia. In the 5th, Good will face Democratic nominee Cameron Webb, an African American physician, former White House fellow and health policy researcher who analysts say could energize a restive Democratic electorate. In the 7th, Spanberger, a former CIA officer, defeated Republican Dave Brat in the 2018 blue wave, helping Democrats win the House majority. But she is considered potentially vulnerable to a strong Republican challenger in November.

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