2012 elections preview: Virginia voters to select winners in congressional primaries

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By Ballotpedia's Congressional and State legislative teams

Virginia voters will select their party's nominees for U.S. Senate and U.S. House tomorrow. The House races are generally quiet, but the Republican primary for Senate is key, as the seat is one that could determine which party holds the majority this fall.

Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.[1]

Contested Primaries in Virginia -- June 12, 2012
U.S. House
(11 seats)
Total Democratic Contested Primaries 2 (18.1%)
Total Republican Contested Primaries 4 (36.4%)

U.S. Senate

United States Senate elections in Virginia, 2012

With Senator Jim Webb (D) retiring at the end of his term, four Republicans are seeking their party's nod to take on Democrat Tim Kaine in the general election. Kaine is unopposed in the Democratic primary. The Republicans are former senator and governor George Allen, pastor E.W. Jackson Sr., state Tea Party leader Jamie Radtke, and state Representative Bob Marshall.

The University of Virginia's Center for Politics rating page Sabato's Crystal Ball on March 22, 2012, detailed the 8 races in the Senate in 2012 that will decide which party will end up with control in 2013.[2] The seat rated a toss-up that Sabato's Crystal Ball believes is most likely to depend on the outcome of the Presidential election in November is the Senate seat in Virginia.[2] According to the article, "outcome of this race will largely be determined by which party claims Virginia’s 13 electoral votes in November."[2]

Allen has outraised his Republican challengers and has the benefit of greater name recognition. He is also the most centrist of the Republican candidates, although all four candidates agree on most issues.[3]

U.S. House

United States House of Representatives elections in Virginia, 2012

Virginia has 11 U.S. House seats up for election this year. Of the 22 possible primaries, just 6 are contested. Nationally, 62.94% of primaries so far have been contested; Virginia's 27.3% is well below the national average.

Most primaries in U.S. House are uncontested. In the 4th District, however, Democrats will choose between Chesapeake City Council member Ella Ward and small-business owner and minister Joe Elliott Jr.. On the Republican side, consultant Bonnie Girard is challenging incumbent Randy Forbes.

In the 11th District Republican primary, Chris Perkins and Ken Vaughn battle to see who will face Democratic incumbent Gerald Connolly in the November general election. Vaughn has put forth a very specific budget plan to require bipartisan consensus on expenditures, with any remaining funds to be distributed to each congressional district.[4]

In the 6th, Air Force veteran Karen Kwiatkowski is challenging incumbent Bob Goodlatte in the Republican primary. Goodlatte has vastly outraised Kwiatkowski, and according to a local news source, he "has avoided recognition of his opponent and calls from Kwiatkowski to debate."[5]

There's another challenge of a Republican incumbent in the 7th, where Floyd Bayne is looking to knock out Eric Cantor. Bayne criticizes Cantor as being insufficiently conservative.[6]

Democratic incumbent Jim Moran isn't free from a contest, either, as Bruce Shuttleworth is challenging him in the 8th District Democratic primary. While Shuttleworth says his politics are similar to Moran's, he is running as the more ethical candidate, in the wake of some questionable financial practices of Moran's.[7]

Members of the U.S. House from Virginia -- Partisan Breakdown
Party As of November 2012 After the 2012 Election
     Democratic Party 3 3
     Republican Party 8 8
Total 11 11

See also