Virginia voters go to primary polls Tuesday

WASHINGTON – It has been a low-key campaign, with more intraparty squabbles than real issues, but voters in Virginia will choose candidates for two statewide offices and 12 legislative slots in a primary on Tuesday.

The top of the ticket for the Nov. 5 election has been set for weeks, with Democrat Terry McAuliffe facing Republican Ken Cuccinelli.

But voters in Tuesday’s primary will be choosing the Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Meanwhile, seven members of the House of Delegates face primary challenges, including five Republicans who are up against newcomers who say they’ve broken faith with the party.

That includes the 28th District, where House Speaker Bill Howell, who represents Stafford County and Fredericksburg, is being challenged by Craig Ennis. In the the 33rd District, Delegate Joe May, of Loudoun County, is being challenged by Dave LaRock.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics, says those challenges are a residual effect of the passage of the multi-billion dollar transportation package by the Virginia General Assembly earlier this year.

“Some of the anti-tax, Tea Party Republicans want to exact a price, a pound of flesh, from some of the Republicans who voted for the bill,” he says.

In statewide races, Democrats will choose between state Sen. Ralph Northam and former Obama White House technology chief Aneesh Chopra for the lieutenant governor’s nomination, and between Sen. Mark Herring and Fairfax lawyer Justin Fairfax for the attorney general nomination.

Sabato predicts that fewer than than 200,000 Democrats will turn out to vote in the statewide races.

Republicans have already chosen E.W. Jackson as their candidate for lieutenant governor and Mark Obenshain as their attorney general candidate.

The polls in Virginia are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

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