Virginia continues to see few contested primary elections

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August 22, 2011

3Competitive 2011.jpg

By Geoff Pallay and Tyler King

RICHMOND, Virginia: The 2011 Virginia state legislative primaries take place tomorrow with very few contested races. Overall, with 7.1% of possible primaries having multiple candidates, Virginia has the lowest percent of contested primaries of the three states that will have held primaries thus far in 2011 (New Jersey and Mississippi held primaries earlier this year).

There are a total of 140 districts (40 senate and 100 house) that are up for election in 2011, meaning there are possibility of 280 primaries. Of the 280 possible primary elections, only 16 (9 senate and 7 house) are contested. These numbers keep in line with the 2009 and 2007 elections.

Thomas Norment, a Republican from Senate District 3, and Algie Howell, a Democrat from House District 9, are the only two incumbents facing primary opposition.

Voters will have the opportunity to choose between multiple candidates tomorrow in the following districts.

State Senate

There are nine state senate districts with contested primaries tomorrow. Those districts and candidates are:

District 3
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:
District 13
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:
District 21
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:
District 22
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:
District 30
Democratic Party August 23 Democratic primary result:
District 31
Democratic Party August 23 Democratic primary result:
District 36
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:
District 37
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:
District 39
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:

State House

There are seven state house districts with contested primaries tomorrow. Those districts and candidates are:

District 10
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:
District 18
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:
District 49
Democratic Party August 23 Democratic primary result:
District 87
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:
District 90
Democratic Party August 23 Democratic primary result:
District 98
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:
District 99
Republican Party August 23 GOP primary result:

Other method of nomination

One reason for the lack of contested primary elections is the method of nomination in some districts. Many districts use primaries to chose which candidates move on to the general election while others use party nomination, caucuses, or meetings, thereby eliminating the need for a primary.

The following district/party combinations do not use a primary in the State Senate.

Democratic Party Democrats: Districts 7, 12, 13, 15, 21, 24, 25, 26, 27, 38, 39

Republican Party Republicans: Districts 6, 17, 25, 29, 38, 40

The following district/party combinations do not use a primary in the House of Delegates.

Democratic Party Democrats: Districts 2, 3, 4, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 25, 31, 32, 33, 50, 51, 56, 57, 59, 67, 72, 73, 81, 82, 83, 84, 85, 86, 98

Republican Party Republicans: Districts 1, 3, 15, 26, 47, 59, 64, 75, 88

Thus, a total of 56 of the 280 possible primaries in Virginia do not use primaries.

Given that there are 56 district party's that do not use a primary to select the nominee, there are therefore 224 possible primaries where multiple candidates could have declared to seek election. Out of the 224 districts that use a primary to select the candidate, voters more than option in only 7.1% of those races.

In the other two states that held primary elections this year, there were more overall contested primaries. In New Jersey, 15% of the primaries were contested while in Mississippi, 22.1% of the primaries had multiple candidates.

See also

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