Hurt, Rigell win as favorites take Va. GOP primaries

June 9, 2010

Contradicting the anti-politician mood in the nation, the only two elected officials on the ballots won Republican congressional nominations yesterday in Virginia’s lightly attended primary elections.

State Sen. Robert Hurt, R-Pittsylvania, won the GOP nomination in the 5th Congressional District by defeating six opponents who split the anti-establishment vote. Hurt will take on Rep. Tom Perriello, a Democrat first elected in 2008.

Rep. Robert J. Wittman of Montross brushed aside a challenge from Catherine T. Crabill of White Stone to win nomination in the 1st District.

Auto dealer E. Scott Rigell, backed by Gov. Bob McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, cruised to an easy win in Hampton Roads’ 2nd District. Five other Republicans sought the nomination.

In the 5th District, Republicans are targeting Perriello, who won his seat by 727 votes in 2008. Perriello has backed President Barack Obama on the health-care overhaul and on “cap and trade” legislation meant to combat global warming.

But Hurt’s nomination means that Danville businessman Jeff Clark will run as an independent, hoping to offer voters a more conservative alternative in November.

Hurt appeared unconcerned last night.

“In the last eight months that we traveled across the 5th District, we picked up support in all quarters — among Republicans, among independents, and we picked up support among folks who identify themselves as tea-party people,” Hurt told The Associated Press.

Rigell will take on Rep. Glenn Nye, D-2nd, who also was first elected in 2008. Jason Miyares, Rigell’s campaign manager, said the district’s voters wanted a businessman who has “made a payroll, created a budget and created jobs.”

Despite good weather, turnout was light across the state. There were no Democrats on the ballot yesterday.

In the 11th District, Keith Fimian headed toward a rematch with Rep. Gerry E. Connolly, another first-term Democrat. Connolly defeated Fimian by 11 percentage points two years ago as Barack Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Virginia since 1964.

Fimian easily defeated Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity yesterday.

In the 8th District, J. Patrick Murray edged Matthew B. Berry for the chance to take on Rep. James P. Moran, D-8th.

Wittman, 51, who won a special election in 2007 and then was elected to his first full term in 2008, issued a statement attributing his victory to his promotion of “common-sense conservative leadership based on fiscal responsibility, smaller government and job creation.”

He also attacked his Democratic opponent, Krystal Ball of Stafford County, for running a negative campaign against him.

Wittman’s primary opponent, Crabill, had some support from the tea-party movement, but Wittman won nearly 90 percent of the vote.

All the Republicans chosen yesterday will face Democratic incumbents as well as a slew of conservative-leaning independent candidates who could siphon off votes from the Republicans.

Hurt, whom national Republicans helped recruit to run, came close to winning 50 percent of the vote. The lawyer is serving his third year in the state Senate after serving in the House of Delegates for six years.

Turnout did not exceed 10 percent of the registered voters in any of the five districts.

Click here to read the full story.