But state election officials said his local Republican legislative committee never submitted a required form indicating Freitas was the party’s nominee. The state said another form, which Freitas personally should have filed, was also missing.
Freitas’s largely rural district, which includes Madison, Orange and Culpeper counties, has been reliably red territory, where President Trump beat Hillary Clinton 61 percent to 34 percent in 2016. Running as a write-in would pose a significant hurdle in a pivotal election year.
All 140 seats in the state legislature are on the ballot in November. Republicans have a 51-to-48 edge in the House of Delegates and a 20-to-19 advantage in the Senate, with one vacancy in each chamber.
Two years ago, as Democrats picked up 15 House seats in an anti-Trump wave, Freitas beat Democratic challenger Ben Hixon 62 percent to 38 percent, despite being outspent nearly 2 to 1. Freitas will face a stiffer challenge if he has to rely on voters to write in his name. This year, he faces Democrat Ann Ridgeway, a former teacher and juvenile probation officer.
Freitas first won a seat in the House in 2015. Some Republicans have embraced the former Green Beret with libertarian leanings as a fresh face who could help rebrand a party that has not won a statewide election since 2009.
Freitas began the election year seemingly poised to play an outsized role. Breaking with House protocol, he waded into a nasty nomination battle against a Republican colleague, Del. Chris Peace (R-Hanover), who ultimately lost to GOP challenger Scott Wyatt. Freitas’s wife, Tina Freitas, mounted a primary challenge against Sen. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. (R-Augusta). She was soundly defeated.
“Maybe he should have spent less time trying to create a family political business or meddling in his colleagues races,” Peace tweeted this month, as Freitas’s ballot troubles began unfolding.
Freitas referred questions to his campaign manager, who did not respond to a request for comment.
Bruce Kay, chairman of the GOP’s 30th legislative district, said he emailed the nomination form to the state, but sent it to an outdated email address.
“It wasn’t kicked back to me to my knowledge,” Kay said. Kay could not provide evidence that he sent the email, saying he had a problem with his computer that caused two years of email to be lost. As for the form Freitas should have submitted, Kay said the state normally would have sent a reminder to the candidate, but since the first form was not received, that did not happen.
Jessica Bowman, deputy elections commissioner, declined to comment.
The board was scheduled to discuss Freitas’s case at a meeting July 19, but Freitas withdrew his candidacy the day before. The move was meant to prevent the board from disqualifying him as a candidate.
Under state law, the legislative district committee may nominate a new candidate after normal filing deadlines have passed if a candidate withdraws or dies, but the replacement cannot be someone the state board has disqualified.
“Nick and an attorney looked at state law and said as long as he hadn’t been disqualified by the state, the committee could replace him. That’s why he withdrew his nomination,” Kay said Friday.
The committee met Wednesday and nominated Freitas as the candidate. Kay said he filled out the requisite form and hand-delivered it to elections officials in Richmond on Thursday.
The board of elections now has to decide whether to allow Freitas to be placed on the ballot as a “replacement candidate” in a race where there had not been a certified GOP candidate in the first place.
“We’re still waiting to hear from the state,” Kay said late Friday afternoon. “Who knows what could happen . . . Our standing is we’ve done everything that is required by the state code and by the Republican Party of Virginia bylaws. [But] you never know.”