Northern Va. Seeing Higher Voter Turnout

Voters to Pick Democratic Candidate for Va. Gov.

RICHMOND, Va. -- State officials are seeing heavier voter turnout in northern Virginia for Tuesday's primaries.

Election and party officials believe less than 5 percent of the state's 5 million registered voters will take part. As of 11 a.m. turnout was more than 6 percent in Alexandria and 4 percent in the Richmond area, State Board of Elections Secretary Nancy Rodrigues said. The highest numbers were about 10 percent in Arlington precincts where they have a House of Delegates race. The lowest were in Southwest Virginia with about 2 percent.

Early Tuesday, officials in Richmond, Arlington and Fairfax reported light turnout. Thunderstorms also temporarily knocked out power at some northern Virginia precincts. By 8 a.m., some precincts hadn't seen any voters, Rodrigues said. The largest precinct in Fauquier County -- with more than 4,400 voters -- had only had 14 votes cast.

Democrats Creigh Deeds, a state senator; Terry McAuliffe, the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee; and former state Delegate Brian Moran have raised and spent about $15.5 million to win the primary and take on Republican Bob McDonnell this fall.

All three spent a relentless final weekend of campaign rallies while broadcast ads, direct mail, robo-calls and door-to-door volunteers sought to motivate a disinterested electorate.

Election registrars and party and campaign officials expect no more than 5 percent of the state's 5 million voters to turn out.

But that figure could be dampened by forecasts for afternoon showers and thunderstorms, some severe.  Early-morning storms knocked out power at Langley High School, a polling location.  The lack of power didn't stop those who showed up from voting, however.  The voting machines are powered by backup generators, so people voted in the dark.

The McAuliffe family arrived early Tuesday morning at their polling place in McLean, where one of the family's daughters voted for first time. As of 7 a.m., 13 people had voted -- that included three McAuliffes.

The tight, low turnout contest gives new meaning to the saying "every vote counts," political observers said, which is why candidates spent their final campaign day making appearances to fire up committed supporters while volunteers burned up the phone lines trying to sway undecided Democrats.

A rousing final rally was held for Moran in Old Town Alexandria. The stage was filled with local elected leaders who've endorsed his bid to become the Democratic nominee for governor. 

At McAuliffe's campaign headquarters in McLean, every last hour was spent phone banking. Over the weekend volunteers and staff placed almost 200,000 calls to likely primary voters. On Monday, they made 56,000. McAuliffe supporters aren't discouraged by some recent polls that have shown their candidate's early lead in the polls slipping.

Deeds focused the final hours closer to his home territory of Bath County.

McAuliffe already has one small victory Tuesday. A federal appeals court rejected Ralph Nader's attempt to sue Democrats who he says conspired to keep him off the ballot in the 2004 presidential election. Among other claims, the lawsuit alleged that McAuliffe offered to support Nader's campaign in some states if he'd drop his campaign in the battlegrounds.

Polls opened at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

For voter information, visit the state board of elections website.  

2 Vie for Chance to Challenge Lt. Gov. Bolling

Voters also are deciding between two Democrats hoping to challenge Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling in November for the state's No. 2 position.

Tuesday's primary election is between former Finance Secretary Jody Wagner, of Virginia Beach, and national security expert and Democratic strategist A. Michael Signer, of Arlington.

Wagner served as state treasurer under former Gov. Mark Warner and as finance secretary for Gov. Tim Kaine. Signer was a deputy counselor to Warner and a senior strategist for U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello's upset of six-term congressman Virgil Goode Jr. last year.

Bolling, a Republican, is seeking his second term.

Va. House Primary to Decide 12 Party Nominees

Voters also are choosing the nominees in a dozen House of Delegates races, including three in which the incumbent is facing primary opposition.

Delegates Onzlee Ware, Robert Hull and Algie Howell Jr. each have Democratic primary opponents. Howell is opposed by the son of another incumbent Democrat, Del. Lionel Spruill Sr.

Six of the races are for open seats in which the delegate is retiring, and another is to fill that vacated by Steve Shannon, who is the only Democrat running for attorney general.

Voters will decide the nominees in nine Democratic and three Republican races. Republicans chose Stan D. Clark to face Democratic Delegate Bill Barlow in the 64th District race at their convention in May.

In the 90th District, 43-year-old Lionell Spruill Jr. is taking on Algie Howell Jr., 71, who has served in the House since 2004.

Ware, who has served since 2003, faces Martin Jeffrey, a former president of the Roanoke chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. Hull is getting his first primary challenge in his 17 years in the House from Fairfax County School Board member L. Kaye Kory.

There are two five-way primary races for retiring delegates' seats -- a Democratic primary to replace Delegate Albert Eisenberg and a Republican match for Del. William Fralin's seat.

Alan Howze, a policy director for former Gov. Mark Warner, National Wildlife Federal employee Miles Grant, day-labor center director Andres Tobar, Adam Parkhomenko, a 23-year-old former staffer for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, and Patrick Hope, an adjunct professor of health at Johns Hopkins University, are competing in the 47th District.

In the 17th District, Roanoke County Supervisor Mike Wray, Botetourt County lawyer William Cleaveland, Roanoke attorneys John Johnson and Melvin Williams, and Chris Head, who owns an in-home care business for seniors, are competing to face Democrat Gwen Mason, a Roanoke city councilwoman.

Four Democrats are vying for Shannon's seat. Vienna lawyer Roy Baldwin, former prosecutor John Francis Carroll, former Federal Communications Commission employee Mark Keam and Alexandria surgeon Esam Omeish are facing off to take on former Fairfax County Republican Committee chair Jim Hyland in November.

In the 23rd District, Republican Lynchburg City Council members T. Scott Garrett and Jeff Helgeson are competing to face Democratic Del. Shannon Valentine.

Three Democrats -- economic development director Matthew James, Portsmouth City councilman Douglas Smith and former civic leader Elijah Sharp III -- are running to replace retiring Del. Kenneth Melvin.

The 55th District Republican primary to replace longtime Del. Frank Hargrove also fielded three candidates: small business owner and former Defense Department budget analyst Gerald "Jerry" Burch, trucking company owner John Cox and Russell McGuire, chief deputy commonwealth's attorney in Louisa County.

Three more Democrats -- corporate finance lawyer Carlos Brown, Richmond School Board member Betsy Brooks Carr and Richmond Crusade for Voters president Antoine Green -- are running to replace Del. Frank Hall, who retired after 33 years to become a commissioner for the Alcoholic Beverage Control.

McGaheysville optometrist Gregory Marrow and Jim Noel, a facility planner from Mount Sidney, are competing to see who will face Republican Del. Steve Landes in November.

In the 52nd District, former Secret Service agent Michael Hodge is running against Dumfries pastor Luke Torian to see who will face Republican nominee Rafael Lopez, a former Dumfries town councilman. Republican Del. Jeff Frederick, who was ousted as the state party chairman after less than a year in office, decided not to seek re-election.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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