Stewart wins GOP primary; Wexton wins 10th District Dem race
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republicans chose Corey Stewart, an outspoken supporter of President Donald Trump and defender of Confederate monuments, as their nominee for the state’s U.S. Senate race on Tuesday, while Democrats picked an establishment favorite to run in Virginia’s marquee U.S. house race.
Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors and one-time state chairman of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, defeated Nick Freitas, a state delegate, and E.W. Jackson, a minister, in Tuesday’s Republican Senate primary.
Stewart has pledged to run a “vicious” campaign against U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, who did not face a primary opponent and is considered an early favorite to win the general election. Virginia Republicans haven’t won a statewide race in nearly a decade, and Kaine has a massive fundraising advantage over Stewart.
In a victory speech, Stewart said he’s going to campaign in a way that appeals to blue collar voters across the political spectrum.
“We will unite the coalition that President Trump brought together in 2016. We will win working men and women across this state,” Stewart said.
In Virginia’s bellwether 10th Congressional District, state Sen. Jennifer Wexton won a six-way Democratic primary. She will face two-term incumbent Rep. Barbara Comstock, who defeated challenger Shak Hill, a retired Air Force veteran, on Tuesday.
Comstock, a moderate Republican, is one of Democrats’ top targets in November, when they hope a blue wave can help them retake control of the House of Representatives.
The district stretches from the wealthy suburbs of McLean, inside the Capital Beltway, west to Winchester. Comstock won re-election in 2016 with 53 percent of the vote, but voters there supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 by a 10-point margin over Trump.
Wexton was the best-known and best-financed in the field and was viewed as the Democratic Party’s establishment choice.
In the Hampton Roads-area 2nd Congressional District, another swing-district race with a Republican incumbent seen as vulnerable in the fall, GOP Rep. Scott Taylor fended off a primary challenger.
He defeated Mary Jones and will now face Democratic primary winner Elaine Luria, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate who spent 20 years on active duty.
Democrats also hope they can flip Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, where former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger handily defeated primary opponent Dan Ward, a former Marine pilot, for the party’s nomination on Tuesday.
Spanberger will face GOP incumbent Dave Brat in the fall. Four years ago, Brat won a stunning upset in the Republican primary against then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor, the second-most powerful person in the House. At the time, Brat was a little-known economics professor at Randolph-Macon College, a small liberal arts school north of Richmond.
Spanberger told a cheering crowd at an election night party at a Richmond hotel she would flip the Republican-leaning district.
“Make no mistake, we have a long road ahead of us and face an intense fight,” she said. “But with everything that’s at stake right now, we cannot let up.”
Robert Monroe, 53, a video producer from Glen Allen, said he voted for Spanberger because he believes she has a better chance of winning in November.
“To be honest with you, I voted for her because she is a woman,” he said. “To defeat Dave Brat, I think we need to energize the voters, particularly the female voters. I think she will energize that voting bloc.”
Democratic voters picked women in five of the six Congressional districts that had contests Tuesday. And they had previously selected another woman, Leslie Cockburn, as their nominee in the 5th Congressional District through caucuses.
Cockburn will face Denver Riggleman for the open seat. U.S. Rep. Thomas Garrett announced earlier this month he would not seek re-election to focus on a recovery from alcoholism.
Associated Press writers Alan Suderman in Richmond, Denise Lavoie in Glen Allen, Matt Barakat in McLean and Ben Finley in Norfolk contributed to this report.