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Voters head to polls for Va. primary to select candidates in Senate, Congressional races

Voters head to the polls for Virginia primary. Tuesday, June 12, 2018 (ABC7 photo)

Voters in Virginia’s Tuesday primary are picking their favorites as they narrow the field of candidates in a GOP Senate contest and nine Congressional races, some Democratic and some Republican.

Primary contests also were being decided in a handful of local offices. A northern Virginia congressional race is among those being watched nationally.

After days of heavy rains in the mid-Atlantic, sunny weather greeted voters on Tuesday. State elections officials did not have any information on early turnout, but there were no reports of problems at polling places.

In the Republican Senate nomination contest, voters were choosing between three candidates vying to replace incumbent Sen. Tim Kaine, a former governor and vice presidential candidate who is seeking a second term.

Kaine’s potential GOP challengers are Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors; Nick Freitas, a state delegate; and E.W. Jackson, a minister. All three Republican candidates have struggled to raise serious money, and the winner will have a serious cash disadvantage against Kaine, who is expected to have about $25 million for this election.

Patrick Gordon, 70, a retired Defense Department administrator who lives in Glen Allen, said he voted for Freitas.

“Corey Stewart has run before and he didn’t impress me,” said Gordon, referring to Stewart’s bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination last year.

Voters in Glen Allen also were casting ballots in the Democratic primary for the 7th Congressional District, where former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger was vying against Dan Ward, a farmer and former Marine. The winner will take on incumbent Republican Dave Brat in November.

Robert Monroe, 53, a video producer, said he voted for Spanberger because he believes she has a better chance of defeating Brat.

“To be honest with you, I voted for her because she is a woman,” he said. “To defeat Dave Brat, I think we need to energize the voters, particularly the female voters. I think she will energize that voting bloc, which we need to defeat Dave Brat.”

Among the U.S. House primaries, the most crowded is the Democratic contest for the 10th Congressional District in northern Virginia. The winner will likely face Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock — considered one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress — in one of the most closely watched races in the country. Six Democrats are on the ballot.

The Hampton Roads-area 2nd Congressional District is another swing-district race with a Republican incumbent seen as vulnerable in the fall. GOP Rep. Scott Taylor is seeking a second term in a district that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam won by 4 percentage points. On Tuesday, the former Navy SEAL is trying to fend off a primary opponent, Mary Jones, who chides Taylor for not supporting President Donald Trump more.

Two Democrats are seeking the nomination: Elaine Luria, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who spent 20 years on active duty, and Karen Mallard, a school teacher.

Not all congressional districts have primaries. Some incumbents don’t face opponents, and in some cases the parties chose different methods of nominating their candidates.

Polls are open 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., and voters must bring a photo ID. Valid forms of identification include a driver’s license, passport or student ID. A registered voter without an ID can cast a provisional ballot but will have to complete follow-up steps to ensure it’s counted.

Anyone not already registered is not allowed to vote. Virginia doesn’t allow same-day registration.

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