GOP Fears Primary Fight Will Ruin Virginia Senate Chances

Virginia Republicans lack a consensus frontrunner to take on Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), setting the stage for a brutal primary where the top contenders are likely to run hard to the right.

Republicans fear that the campaigns of two controversial figures —minister E.W. Jackson and frontrunner Corey Stewart, the chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors — will wind up alienating moderates and squandering any long hopes Republicans had of winning in a state that's increasingly trending blue. 

And even if state Delegate Nick Freitas is able to catch fire, most Republicans and analysts don’t think he’ll have a real shot against Kaine, either. 

Those 2017 defeats weigh heavily on the Senate primary. Republicans are shell-shocked by a blowout that was driven in part, according to exit polls, by President Trump’s low approval ratings.

“Northam over-performed because Virginia is not that big a fan of Donald Trump and northern Virginia was fired up,” said Ford O’Connell, a GOP strategist who has worked in Virginia, referring to the D.C.-area suburbs that tend to power Democratic wins in the state.

“Virginia is no longer a purple state, it’s a blue state, and your candidate has to come up with an issue that resonates with southern Virginia and northern Virginia.”

Read more from Ben Kamisar at The Hill

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