Virginia Primary: What to Watch

What share of the Republican primary vote does House Majority Leader Eric Cantor win today in central Virginia? And which Democrat wins a primary in an open district in northern Virginia?

Those are the two biggest things to watch in the Virginia primaries.

Cantor, who’s favored to win an eighth term in the Richmond-area 7th District, is opposed in the Republican primary by David Brat, a college economics professor who’s tried to position himself to the incumbent’s right on immigration and fiscal policy.

Brat opposes “clean” increases in the federal borrowing limit, aligning himself with a key position of the small-government Tea Party movement. He’s hoping to win the votes of conservatives who think Cantor will push for an overhaul of immigration laws that opponents call “amnesty.”

“I expect that he’s going to do everything in his power to pass immigration this year — some sort of immigration and amnesty this year, whether it is before November or during the lame-duck session,” Jenny Beth Martin,David  president and co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, said in a meeting today with Bloomberg reporters and editors in Washington. 

Cantor’s campaign paid for four ads on broadcast television, two of them touting his record and two more attacking Brat as a “liberal college professor,” according to Kantar Media’s CMAG. Cantor’s campaign also paid for mail that said he was opposed to “pushing amnesty to give illegal aliens a free ride.”

Cantor “stood up to Barack Obama” on federal spending and is “fighting for tax cuts to get our economy moving,” a narrator said in a Cantor campaign ad, which also described the House’s second-ranking Republican as “the conservative standing up for us.”

Outside groups backing Cantor include the American Chemistry Council, a Washington-based trade organization whose members include Dow Chemical Co., and 3M Co., and the National Rifle Association, which paid for pro-Cantor postcards.

Virginia’s 7th District includes all or part of 10 counties or cities. About 70 percent of the Republican vote comes from three counties — Henrico, Chesterfield and Hanover.


The other Virginia primary to watch is the Democratic contest in the 8th District, where seven Democrats are actively seeking to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Moran in a Democratic bastion that includes Arlington, Alexandria, Falls Church and part of Fairfax County. (The ballot lists 10 candidates, including three who have withdrawn).

The best-known and best-funded candidate is Don Beyer, a former Virginia lieutenant governor and Volvo car dealer. He raised more than $1.3 million this year through May 21, a total that includes a $200,000 personal loan. Minority Whip Steny Hoyer of Maryland and Rep. Bobby Scott of Virginia’s southeastern 3rd District made political donations to Beyer’s campaign. Beyer’s television ads have emphasized his support for abortion rights, pay equity for women, and energy policies that counter climate change.

Lavern Chatman, former head of the Northern Virginia Urban League, has emphasized a career spent “in the trenches” fighting for working families. Her donor list includes the leadership political action committee of Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina, the third-ranking House Democrat and the highest-ranking black member of Congress.

Adam Ebbin, a state senator, received financial support from the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union and some colleagues in the Virginia legislature.

Bill Euille, mayor of Alexandria, is the preferred candidate of the Greater Washington Board of Trade. One of his abiding concerns is transportation, including affordable and accessible options for senior citizens.

Patrick Hope, a member of the state House of Delegates from Arlington, received donations from health-care PACs and criticized Beyer over his role in rewriting welfare programs. At a candidate forum last month, Hope said he founded and led the Progressive Caucus “mainly because I believe government should stand up for people that are most vulnerable among us, and I’ve always championed those kinds of causes.”

Mark Levine, a self-styled “aggressive progressive” who’s mostly self-financed his campaign, ran a television ad that touted Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts as his “role model” while vowing to work in Congress to overturn the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United ruling removing limits on independent political spending by corporations and labor unions.

Virginia polling stations close at 7 p.m. Eastern time. Here are maps of Virginia’s 7th and 8th Districts:




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