In Obscure Off-Year Primary, Paltry Turnout Likely

By: AP/WHSV Email
By: AP/WHSV Email

RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WHSV) -- With the major party gubernatorial choices for this fall settled, a paltry turnout is expected Tuesday as Virginia Democrats pick their down-ballot nominees and nominations are decided for 11 contested House of Delegates seats.

Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe are already nominees for governor, leaving the off-year primary without its marquee races.

Democrats choose between state Sen. Mark Herring and first-time candidate Justin Fairfax for attorney general, and between former Virginia and White House technology chief Aneesh Chopra and state Sen. Ralph Northam for lieutenant governor.

Among the House races, nine contests are Republican, and five of them are conservative challenges to GOP incumbents, including House Speaker Bill Howell. Another race of local interest is a primary for the 15th district in the House of Delegates, which includes Page and Shenandoah Counties, as well as parts of Rockingham County. Incumbent C. Todd Gilbert is facing Mark Prince in the race.

All three Democratic races involve challenges to incumbent delegates.

In Harrisonburg at the Lucy Simms Center, only 16 people had voted as of about 12 p.m. Some of the people working the polls said that it was the slowest they'd ever seen it, and they've been working elections for many years.

Some estimates said only 3% of voters would vote in the elections. Local Democrats say they're not worried and compared that to the Republican convention process. "If the 3% estimate holds statewide that'll be about 165,000 voters, which is actually 20 times the number that picked the Republican nominee. We fee like we will have a good choice, and that the people making the choice are going to be informed and interested," said Joe Fitzgerald, a member of the Harrisonburg Democratic Committee, and a former mayor.

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

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