It’s All Over but the Vote Counting in ‘Firehouse’ Primary in Va.

December 21, 2022 by Dan McCue
It’s All Over but the Vote Counting in ‘Firehouse’ Primary in Va.
State Sen. Jennifer McClellan, a. Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, speaks during a debate at Virginia State University in Petersburg, Va., on April 6, 2021. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

RICHMOND, Va. — More than 26,400 people turned out to vote in a “firehouse” Democratic primary held in Virginia’s 4th Congressional District on Tuesday — so many that the party had to reportedly print as many as 10,000 additional ballots to keep up with demand.

“The Democratic Party of Virginia and the Fourth Congressional District Democratic Committee are exceptionally pleased with yesterday’s record-breaking turnout,” said Liam Watson, interim press secretary for the Democratic Party of Virginia, in an email to The Well News.

He added: “We are delighted that so many Virginians showed up to honor the legacy and memory of Congressman A. Donald McEachin by helping to select his successor.”

Watson put the number of extra ballots that needed to be printed at somewhere between 5,000 and 10,000, apologizing for not having an exact number.

As for the outcome of the race, Watson said the party hopes to have all the votes counted by sometime late this afternoon or tonight, but said “with tens of thousands of ballots to hand count, that may be wishful thinking.”

The primary election to nominate a successor to Rep. A. Donald McEachin, who died last month, came after a brief seven-day campaign — the result of Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin having set a special election date of Feb. 21 to choose a successor. 

Under state law, nominees must be chosen at least 60 days before the special election — meaning by this coming Friday. 

The Virginia Republican Party selected Leon Benjamin, who twice lost to McEachin by more than 20 points, after a five-hour caucus on Saturday.

As for the Democratic contest — a race that featured no television ads and allowed next to no time to set up a get-out-the-vote operation — State Sen. Jennifer McClellan was the favorite of the party establishment.

Her main competitor was state Sen. Joseph Morrissey, a maverick within his own party who largely mounted an outsider’s campaign. 

The 4th Congressional District stretches from Richmond to the North Carolina border.

Because the district is so blue, Tuesday’s Democratic primary will probably determine the next member of Congress. 

Two other Democrats, Joseph Preston and Tavorise Marks, were also in the race.

Though no winner has been declared in the Democratic primary, the party is not waiting to attack the GOP’s Benjamin, who is accused of having “a long history of stoking anti-immigrant sentiment, supporting far-right extremist candidates across the country, and spreading election-denying conspiracy theories. 

“After losing for a second time to Congressman McEachin on Nov. 8, 2022, Benjamin refused to concede his race,” the party noted in a press release.

Liam Watson added, “The path to a stronger fourth district does not pass through Leon Benjamin’s mire of election denialism and xenophobia.”

Dan can be reached at [email protected] and at https://twitter.com/DanMcCue

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  • 4th Congressional District
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