Prince William County Board Chair Election Set With Republicans Choosing Right-Wing Candidate

The race to fill the open chairmanship of Prince William County's county board is set, with Republicans nominating accountant John Gray over longtime county supervisor Martin E. Nohe.

In a firehouse primary on Saturday, county Republicans chose Gray, a right-wing candidate, over Nohe, a moderate who has been critical of outgoing Prince William County Board Chair Corey Stewart, who most recently ran an unsuccessful Senate campaign against Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine.

Gray took 3,158 votes to Nohe's 2,422, a 57 to 43 percent win. He has previously run for the board of supervisors and the school board, but lost both elections.

Gray's campaign has consisted of videos posted to YouTube, warning against "radicalized Democrats" taking a majority of the seats on the county board and turning Prince William County into a "sanctuary county," the Prince William Times reported.

Currently, Republicans hold a majority of six seats on the board, while Democrats hold two seats, but all eight seats are up for re-election in 2019.

“Today, Republicans came out in large numbers all across the county to nominate a diverse ticket of individuals who have been invested in our community and are dedicated to bringing positive results for the people of this County,” Republican Committee Chairman Bill Card said in a statement. “Our Republican ticket is unified and focused on reducing traffic congestion, bringing high-paying jobs to Prince William, and reducing classroom sizes and supporting teachers."

Gray will now face Democratic candidate Ann Wheeler in November.

Wheeler, who has also not held elected office previously, has served in other county roles, including chairing the Committee of 100, a nonpartisan civic group, and as a member of the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative Board.

Commenting on the result, Wheeler congratulated Gray and urged him to participate in debates with her.

"John's victory reflects a dramatic change in Prince William County Republicans that are now completely controlled by the far right. I will lead a ticket of Prince William County Democrats this fall that will offer the voters a different vision that puts our schools, transportation network and public safety as our first priority – while the GOP offers far right ideology only. I will bring a new era of inclusivity to Prince William County," Wheeler said in a statement.

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