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Virginia Holding A Decade-high Number Of State Legislative Primaries On June 20

The Virginia General Assembly is holding a decade-high number of state legislative primaries on June 20.
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Tuesday, June 6 was primary day in New Jersey. In case you missed our preview, get caught up here. Now, let’s look ahead to Virginia’s June 20 primaries.

The Virginia General Assembly is holding a decade-high number of state legislative primaries on June 20.

In total, there are 47 contested primaries—31 for Democrats and 16 for Republicans—up 88% from 2021 and up 34% from 2019, the last time both the Senate and House held elections. Unlike in other states, in Virginia, local party organizations can decide whether to hold primary elections or some other method, like conventions, for selecting general election candidates. Fifty-five district Republican parties—42 in the house and 13 in the Senate—scheduled conventions to select candidates. 

A voting booth is seen during the Kentucky Primary Elections at polling place in the Simpsonville Community Gym on May 16, 2023 in Simpsonville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jon Cherry/Getty Images)

These totals include 17 incumbents facing contested primaries—12 Democrats and five Republicans—representing 18% of all incumbents running for re-election.

Most of the incumbents facing challengers are in the Senate, making up more than one-third of those running for re-election. The six incumbents facing challengers in the House represent 9% of those running for re-election.

Based on media coverage and other competitiveness metrics, Ballotpedia  identified 14 battleground primarieseight in the Senate and six in the House.

Here’s a preview of some of the races we are watching closely.

Senate District 12

Incumbent Amanda Chase, nonprofit founder Tina Ramirez, and former state Sen. Glenn Sturtevant are running in the Republican primary.

State senator Amanda Chase addresses protesters on July 4, 2020 in Richmond, Virginia. (Photo by Eze Amos/Getty Images)

Chase assumed office in 2016. The chamber censured her in 2021 following comments she made supporting events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.

The Washington Post’s Laura Vozzella wrote, “Chase’s challengers … are trying to convince voters in a newly drawn suburban district south of Richmond that they’d cut the same staunchly conservative figure in the Capitol as the incumbent — without the drama.”

Elections Daily’s Joe Szymanski said the presence of two challengers, rather than one, could affect the primary’s outcome, writing, “[I]t’s nowhere near a certainty that [Chase] loses and with multiple opponents, in only increases the chances she survives.”

House District 55

Amy Laufer and Kellen Squire are running in the Democratic primary for this open district.

Laufer, a former teacher, served on the Charlottesville City School Board from 2011 to 2019 and is a former Chair of the Albemarle County Democrats.

Squire is an emergency room nurse and C.E.O. of a nature advocacy organization.

Szymanski described this race as “a primary that could end up being the closest of them all” and said, “Squire has taken the more progressive wing here, hyping his large base of small donors, one of the largest in Virginia.”

Szymanski said “Laufer is still progressive, albeit slightly less so than Squire, and has key institutional support,” pointing to endorsements from state Sens. Scott Surovell (D) and Louise Lucas (D).

Incumbent v. incumbent primaries

Our list of battleground primaries also includes the General Assembly’s two incumbent v. incumbent primaries. This is Virginia’s first election following redistricting. Under new lines, multiple incumbents might end up living in the same district and running against each other for re-election.

In the Senate, there is an incumbent v. incumbent primary in District 18 between Sens. Louise Lucas (D) and Lionell Spruill (D). Lucas assumed office in 1992 and is the chamber’s current President Pro Tempore. Spruill assumed office in the Senate in 2016 after having served in the House since 1994.

In the House, District 47 has an incumbent v. incumbent primary between Dels. Marie March (R) and Wren Williams (R), both of whom assumed office in 2022.

Virginia is one of 11 states with a divided government. Democrats have a 22-18 majority in the Senate, while Republicans control the governorship—which is not up for election until 2025—and have a 50-46 majority in the House.

While the primaries are first on the calendar, control of both chambers will likely come down to just a handful of races in November.

CNalysis rates both chambers as Lean Democratic. In the 40-member Senate, the outlet rates two districts as Toss-Ups, with the other 38 favoring one party or the other. The outlet has four Toss-Up districts in the 100-member House.


Produced in association with Ballotpedia

Edited by Jessi Rexroad Shull and Kyana Jeanin Rubinfeld

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