The Latest: Hanger defeats Freitas in GOP Virginia primary
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on Virginia’s primary elections (all times local):
A longtime Virginia Republican lawmaker who was an outspoken supporter of expanding Medicaid has held off a primary challenger.
Sen. Emmett Hanger defeated Tina Freitas in a Republican primary Tuesday. Hanger represents a region in the western part of the state.
He was key in getting Medicaid expansion passed in Virginia last year, even defeating his own party’s plan to derail the effort during one committee hearing.
The state’s hospitals spent heavily to help Hanger win the GOP nomination.
Hanger was one of three Republican lawmakers who voted for Medicaid expansion last year and faced a nomination battle this year.
Several Republicans voted for Medicaid expansion in 2018 after years of near unanimous opposition.
Polls have closed in Virginia’s highly charged legislative primary elections.
Local officials are counting votes, and results from Tuesday’s vote should start coming in soon after polls closed at 7 p.m.
Tuesday’s contests have seen plenty of drama as moderates in both parties take fire from their parties’ outer flanks.
An unusually high number of Democratic incumbents are being challenged by liberal newcomers who aren’t shy about attacking their opponents as ethically compromised. On the GOP side, lingering resentment over last year’s vote to expand Medicaid is helping fuel unusually divisive nomination fights.
All 140 legislative seats are up for grabs this year. Virginia is the only state whose legislature has a reasonable chance of flipping partisan control. Republicans currently hold narrow majorities in both chambers.
Some Virginia primary voters say they forgive the state’s governor for a blackface scandal, and don’t think he will be a drag on Democrats in statehouse elections.
Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam isn’t on Tuesday’s ballot for legislative primaries. But a racist yearbook photo that surfaced in February and almost forced Northam from office is on voters’ minds as they consider contests for all 140 seats in the legislature.
Gail Parker-Coefield is an African American voter in Virginia Beach. She says she has forgiven Northam for the scandal and believes it’s now a non-issue.
Melvin Washington cast a ballot in a Richmond-area Democratic primary. He said the scandal might affect Democrats in a small way come November, but he doesn’t think it will make a big difference.
Virginia’s highly charged legislative primary elections are being closely watched as a possible political barometer for the coming presidential election year.
Tuesday’s statewide primary contests feature plenty of drama as moderates in both parties take fire from their parties’ outer flanks. The stakes are high: All 140 legislative seats are up for grabs this year and Virginia is the only state whose legislature has a reasonable chance of flipping partisan control.
Republicans currently have narrow majorities in both the House and Senate.
Several Democratic incumbents are being challenged by liberal newcomers. On the GOP side, lingering resentment over last year’s vote to expand Medicaid is helping fuel unusually divisive primary contests.