Primary Wrap-Up: Anti-choice, anti-gun reform Republicans win

By Keya Vakil
June 12, 2019

Virginia voters went to the polls Tuesday to decide the Democratic or Republican nominees in 16 state Senate races and 19 House of Delegates races. The night saw a handful of surprise victories in what were mostly low-turnout elections, but of the 14 incumbents facing primaries, only two lost. But one key takeaway from yesterday’s elections was the success of hard-line conservatives.

An anti-choice candidate loses for not being extreme enough

Remember Del. Bob Thomas (R-Stafford)? He’s the guy who went on a radio show in May and said he wanted Virginia to enact an abortion ban similar to the one passed in Georgia.

He lost his bid for re-election in the 28th district on Tuesday, but not because he was too extreme on abortion. Instead, he lost to an even more conservative candidate, Stafford County Supervisor Paul Milde, who had attacked Thomas for not doing enough to oppose abortion.

Milde also criticized Thomas for his vote to expand Medicaid to up to 400,000 Virginians; a piece of legislation that has been life-changing for lower-income Virginians.

Milde also campaigned on a promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which reduced the number of uninsured individuals in Virginia by 27.9 percent from 2013 to 2016, according to the Untied States Census Bureau.

If Milde got his way and the ACA were struck down, as many as 685,000 Virginians would lose their healthcare, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Milde also opposes the Equal Rights Amendment, which simply says “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

Milde will now face Democrat Joshua Cole in November. Cole is a pro-choice, pro-ERA candidate who lost to Thomas by only 73 votes when he ran for the same seat in 2017.

Anti-gun reform Republican wins primary in Virginia Beach

Jennifer Kiggans, who told the Virginian-Pilot that “guns don’t kill people but people kill people,” won her primary in Virginia’s 7th state Senate district in Virginia Beach.

Like Milde, Kiggans also has far-right views on female reproductive health and does not support the Equal Rights Amendment.

Kiggans is a self-described “conservative Republican” who has managed to both praise and criticize government-run healthcare. She will now take on Del. Cheryl Turpin (D-Virginia Beach) in November in what is expected to be a competitive race.

Extreme conservative defeats moderate in Loudoun County

In a race that was described as a fight for the soul of the Republican party, hard-line conservative Geary Higgins defeated the more moderate candidate, Ron Meyer.

Higgins, who was backed by current Trump administration official and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, came out victorious, earning 65% of the vote in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 13th state Senate district.

Higgins ran a deeply conservative campaign, frequently mentioning his support for President Trump’s border wall and anti-abortion views.

He also earned the endorsement of the National Rifle Association after Meyer supported a handful of minor gun safety measures while serving as Loudoun County Supervisor.

Higgins will take on Del. John Bell (D-Loudoun County) in November.

NRA-backed Republican wins in Richmond area primary

Garrison Coward, who like Higgins has earned the support of the NRA, defeated Lori Losi in the Republican primary for the House of Delegates’ 68th district.

Coward previously served as a political advisor and campaign manager to U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), worked for the Republican Party of Virginia and received endorsements from a whole host of establishment Republicans.

Coward will take on Del. Dawn Adams (D-Richmond) in November in what is expected to be a tight race. Coward has been silent on Medicaid expansion and abortion while Adams voted to expand Medicaid and wants to protect women’s reproductive rights.

Other highlights:

  • Del. Debra Rodman (D-Henrico) defeated Veena Lothe in Tuesday’s primaries and will now face off against state. Sen Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico) in November.
  • State Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield), who has been mired in controversy this year, will face off against Amanda Pohl in November. Pohl, an advocate for victims of sexual or domestic violence, defeated attorney Wayne Powell on Tuesday.
  • Ghazala Hashmi, a college administrator, was the victor in her primary election and will now take on state Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R-Richmond) in November in a district that has been trending blue.
  • Joe Morrisey, yes, that Joe Morrissey defeated incumbent state. Sen. Rosalyn Dance (D-Petersburg) on Tuesday in what is a safely-Democratic district, meaning that he is all but certain to make an improbable return to Virginia’s General Assembly.
  • In an outlier, a more moderate Republican, State Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Augusta) survived a challenge from Tina Freitas, a hard-line, anti-choice conservative. Hanger will now take on Annette Hyde, who wants to increase broadband internet access in rural Virginia and improve health care for constituents of the 24th district.
  • Suhas Subramayam emerged from one of the most diverse fields of candidates in any race in Virginia history and will now face off against Republican Bill Drennan in the House of Delegates 87th district.

That’s all we’ve got, but if you want to check out the full results of yesterday’s elections, head over to the Virginia Public Access Project.

  • Keya Vakil

    Keya Vakil is the deputy political editor at COURIER. He previously worked as a researcher in the film industry and dabbled in the political world.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized


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