Virginia Republican Races Headline June 21 Primary

By John Haughey
John Haughey
John Haughey
John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.
June 20, 2022 Updated: June 21, 2022

Hard-fought campaigns featuring crowded slates of candidates in two Virginia U.S. House Republican primaries highlight a relatively light schedule of preliminary inter-party elections set for June 21.

Virginia and the District of Columbia are the only primaries on the June 21 docket. Meanwhile, some voters in Alabama and Georgia will be headed to the polls to resolve unfinished post-primary business in the form of runoffs.

In Virginia, Republican voters will be selecting candidates to challenge Democratic incumbents in two congressional districts that the GOP believes it can flip and turn the commonwealth’s 7–4 Democratic-majority congressional delegation to 6–5 in favor of Republicans.

Virginia’s 2nd and 7th districts are among 22 congressional districts nationwide occupied by incumbent Democrats that the Cook Partisan Voting Index (CPVI) rates as “tossups”—likely to produce significant congressional gains for Republicans.

In CD 2, Republican state Sen. Jen Kiggans, a former U.S. Navy helicopter pilot and now a nurse practitioner, is considered the favorite. The GOP primary field also includes Jarome Bell, who retired as a chief petty officer after 27 years in the U.S. Navy; Tommy Altman, a U.S. Air Force special operations Iraq/Afghanistan veteran; and Andy Baan, a retired Navy captain awarded the Bronze Star in Iraq.

The winner will square off in November’s general election against Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), who was narrowly elected in 2018 and reelected in 2020 in the purple district. Luria, who wasn’t challenged in a primary, has raised more than $3.4 million in campaign funds.

In Virginia’s CD 7, six GOP candidates—including four who’ve raised more than $500,000 for their campaigns—are battling for the party’s nomination to advance to November’s general election.

The crowded—and contentious—field includes state Sen. Bryce Reeves, a former high school football coach, narcotics officer, and U.S. Army veteran; Derrick Anderson, an attorney and U.S. Army Green Beret veteran of six Afghanistan and Iraq combat deployments; Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chair Crystal Vanuch; Spotsylvania County Board Supervisor David Ross; and Prince William Board Supervisor Yesli Vega, a sheriff’s deputy who led Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s Latinos for Youngkin campaign.

The winner will take on Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who isn’t facing a primary challenge. A former CIA officer seeking a third term, Spanberger’s June 1 Federal Election Commission campaign filing reported $4 million in cash on hand.

US Congressman Mo Brooks speaking
Rep. Mo Brooks (C) (R-Ala.) speaks with Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) on Capitol Hill in Washington on June 15, 2021. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)

Alabama

Alabama Republican voters will choose between Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.) and Katie Britt, a former chief of staff for retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), who announced in February 2021 that he wouldn’t seek a seventh term.

In Alabama’s May 24 Republican U.S. Senate primary, Britt garnered 45 percent, Brooks got 29 percent, and Michael Durant collected 23 percent.

Because none of the contestants scored 50 percent or more, the top two—Britt and Brooks—are facing off in the runoff. Britt, in a May 24 post-vote statement, said Alabama Republican voters, like those in many states during the 2022 primary season, want change.

“It is clear tonight that Alabamians want new blood,” she said. “They want someone to go to Washington, D.C. and shake it up. It is clear that they want a true Christian conservative Republican who will lead on the America first agenda and doesn’t just talk about it but knows how to actually get something done.”

That same night in Huntsville, Brooks said the fact that he made it to a runoff after losing former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, shows he has survived the worst, is on the rebound, and will defeat what he calls “the Mitch McConnell–Katie Britt team.”

“Just call me Lazarus, resurrected by Alabama citizens who figured out who the real MAGA conservative is,” he said.

The winner of the GOP primary in bright-red Alabama will be heavily favored to defeat Democratic U.S. Senate primary winner Will Boyd in November.

Georgia's Secretary Of State Holds News Conference On Election Ballot Count
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger holds a press conference on the status of ballot counting in Atlanta on Nov. 6, 2020. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Georgia

Republican voters in two Georgia congressional districts will also be headed to the polls to cast runoff ballots, as will Democrats statewide to select a secretary of state candidate to take on incumbent Republican Brad Raffensperger. He easily cruised past Trump-endorsed Jody Hice in the state’s May 24 primary to earn the party’s November ballot berth.

In Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District (CD 2), which includes most of the cities of Columbus and Macon, a runoff between Chris West and Jeremy Hunt will determine which one will challenge incumbent Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.) in November.

Hunt, a 28-year-old former U.S. Army captain and Fox News commentator who left Yale Law School to enter the race, garnered nearly 37 percent of the tally, while West netted about 30 percent of the May 24 preliminary tally.

West, 38, a real estate development corporation attorney and Georgia Air National Guard officer, in a May 25 statement, called Hunt a carpetbagger who came to Georgia with a lot of money just to run for office.

“We advanced to this runoff despite being outspent 11-1 by Jeremy Hunt and his Washington D.C. lobbyists and special interest donors who flooded this district with their crony, carpetbagging money,” West said. “The good news is the voters of Middle and Southwest Georgia know a phony campaign when they see one: and that’s exactly why Jeremy Hunt was exposed.”

Post-2020 census redistricting has made the Democratic-leaning CD 2 more attractive for Republicans, with nearly 45 percent of its registered voters in the GOP.

According to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Bishop is one of the nation’s most vulnerable Democratic incumbents, meaning he will have a significant bankroll to defend his seat come fall.

In Georgia’s CD 6 Republican primary runoff, attorney Jake Evans and Dr. Rich McCormick vie to be the November opponent for Democrat Bob Christian.

The district was represented by Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.), but post-2020 census redistricting moved her into the 7th District, where she defeated fellow incumbent Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Ga.) in the district’s Democratic primary.

That makes CD 6 essentially a new and wide-open district. In the May primary, McCormick pulled 43 percent of the tally in the nine-candidate field over Evans at 23 percent.

Georgia Democrats will be casting ballots for the party’s secretary of state nominee in a runoff between state Rep. Bee Nguyen and former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler.

After the primary polls close in Virginia, 25 states will have conducted their preliminary races and set nominees for the November elections. Louisiana and Rhode Island don’t have primaries, so primaries in 23 states still await.

After voters in four states—Colorado, Illinois, Oklahoma, and New York—vote in primaries on June 28, the pace in July remains slack before picking up in August. Fifteen states will hold primaries between Aug. 2 and 23.

John Haughey
John Haughey has been a working journalist since 1978 with an extensive background in local government, state legislatures, and growth and development. A graduate of the University of Wyoming, he is a Navy veteran who fought fires at sea during three deployments aboard USS Constellation. He’s been a reporter for daily newspapers in California, Washington, Wyoming, New York, and Florida; a staff writer for Manhattan-based business trade publications.