Virginia’s Primary Elections Are Done, So What Happened?

Former Virginia State Delegate Lashrecse Aird, right, talks with Surry County Democratic chair Earrett Parson as she visits a polling precinct Tuesday, June 20, 2023, in Surry, Va. Aird is running against Virginia State Sen. Joe Morrissey in a Democratic primary for a newly redrawn Senate district. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

By Carolyn Fiddler

June 21, 2023

On June 20, Virginia voters in many parts of the commonwealth selected their party’s nominee in races for state House, state Senate, and more. Here’s what you should know about the results in some of the hottest contests.

On Tuesday, voters across Virginia cast their ballots in the state’s primary elections.

Here are the results in some of the most-watched contests and why they matter.

Senate District 13: Former Del. Lashrecse Aird handily defeated Sen. Joe Morrissey to win the Democratic nomination in this solidly blue district.

Unlike other Democratic primary contests, this one is mostly centered around reproductive rights.

Morrissey is the last anti-abortion Democrat serving in Virginia’s legislature, and Aird capitalized on Morrissey’s past statements declaring himself “pro-life” in her “Roe Not Joe” effort highlighting his opposition to and her support for reproductive rights. The message appears to have resonated with voters in the district, as they supported Aird two-to-one over Morrissey.

Senate District 18: Two sitting state senators faced off in the primary for this new Hampton Roads-area seat, which was redrawn last year to (unintentionally) include Sens. Louise Lucas and Lionell Spruill. 

Democrats Lucas and Spruill ran in the only Senate primary contest with two incumbents. Lucas emerged victorious in the contest, and the heavily blue lean of the district means that she will likely win in November’s general election.

Senate District 12: Three Republican candidates battled it out in the primary for this solidly GOP Chesterfield-area seat.

Incumbent Sen. Amanda Chase, who has described herself as “Trump in heels,” was ejected from the Republican Senate Caucus and censured by her colleagues for a “pattern of unacceptable conduct” related to making repeated false and misleading statements and generally hostile extremist behavior. Tina Ramirez is a single mom, nonprofit leader, and failed congressional candidate who “can be as outspoken as Chase” in her support of Trump

Both candidates lost to Glen Sturtevant, a former one-term state senator whose past votes supporting the Equal Rights Amendment and a “red flag” gun safety bill became fodder for attacks from the right. He was endorsed by several of Chase’s fellow Senate Republicans, and he eked out a win in this three-way contest.

House District 57: Bob Shippee faced Susanna Gibson in the Democratic primary for this slightly Republican-leaning seat just west of Richmond. Their stances on many policy issues overlap – they both support reproductive freedom, public education, and reducing gun violence – but they brought very different resumes to the race.

Shippee is a former banking director who became deeply involved in local political organizing after he retired from Capital One in 2015. 

Gibson is a nurse practitioner who was spurred to get involved in politics after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last summer.

“Realizing that Virginia is at a tipping point in terms of reproductive rights, I wanted to be able to do everything I can to protect those reproductive rights and reproductive freedom,” she told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

Gibson won handily and will face Republican David Owen in November.

House District 59: Incumbent Republican Del. Buddy Fowler faced two challengers for the newly-drawn, GOP-favoring House seat west of Richmond.

Fowler has served in the House of Delegates for 10 years and can be fairly characterized as a more or less “traditional,” pre-Trump Republican. He was endorsed by Gov. Glenn Youngkin in a contest with little of the combativeness of some other primaries.

Graven Craig has almost 26 years’ experience as a trial attorney, and a particular point of pride for him is that he’s successfully sued the state multiple times. Philip Strother is a lawyer, winery owner, farmer, and beekeeper. 

Fowler easily won this race and wil face Democrat Rachel Levy in November. 

House District 79: Three Democrats contended for their party’s nomination for this deep blue Richmond-area seat.

Ann-Frances Lambert is the daughter of late state Sen. Benny Lambert, who represented Richmond in the General Assembly for more than three decades. Richard Walker is CEO of Bridging the Gap in Virginia, a nonprofit organization that helps at-risk groups – including formerly incarcerated people, veterans, substance abusers, and those suffering from homelessness – “overcome barriers that hinder their effective transition.”

Rae Cousins, an attorney whose family has lived in Richmond for several generations, easily won this primary contest

  • Carolyn Fiddler

    Carolyn Fiddler is Dogwood's chief political correspondent. She is also the nation’s foremost expert in state politics with almost two decades of experience in statehouse machinations, and her comic book collection is probably bigger than yours.

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