Virginia's race for U.S. Senate is expected to be one of the most closely watched this fall, but voter turnout for tomorrow's primary is expected to be low.
The primary may pass some Virginia voters by -- even the campaign signs are far and few between. Four republicans are running to become the party's nominee for the U.S. Senate, and the winner will step into a race that could decide the balance of power in the Senate.
That's one reason Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell stopped by a final rally for the candidate he favors -- former Gov. George Allen, who is trying to win back the Senate seat he lost to Sen. Jim Webb in 2006. Allen faces three lesser known challengers: Prince William County Delegate bob Marshall, Chesterfield tea party activist Jamie Radtke and Chesapeake minister E.W. Jackson.
“It’s not surprising that not a lot of people are paying close attention to this race, because many people consider it’s a foregone conclusion that George Allen is going to win, and by the way we have this really interesting presidential race going on and that’s a lot more fun,” George Mason University political analyst Mark Rozell said.
Even some voters who do plan to cast ballots tomorrow conceded to News4 the primary isn't necessarily on their neighbors’ radar.
Political observers say there are two risks for front-runner Allen in a low turnout primary -- a smaller winning margin than expected or the impression that Republicans aren't yet enthusiastic about the likely nominee.
Republican leaders are confident that the primary winner will have little trouble unifying Republicans after the primary. The key to the contest in the fall against Democrat Tim Kaine is winning over independent voters in places like Fairfax, Loudoun and Prince William counties.
There are several other local races in tomorrow's primary. Rep. Jim Moran has a primary challenger, and two Republicans are running for the right to challenge Rep. Gerry Connolly this fall. In Alexandria, 14 Democrats are running for city council. Many of them are focusing on concerns over the controversial waterfront development plan.