Sixth District Congressman Bob Goodlatte and former Virginia governor and United States senator George Allen are the heavy favorites heading into Republican Party primaries in Virginia on Tuesday, but the final hours will be uneasy ones for the veteran lawmakers.
Polling done in the Sixth District, which Goodlatte has represented for 20 years, and in the Senate GOP primary featuring Allen and three other candidates seem to indicate that the name candidates should win their respective nomination battles. But with turnout expected to be low, and the challengers working to energize their bases of support, anything could happen on primary day.
Goodlatte faces a challenge from Karen Kwiatkowski, a retired military analyst now farming in Shenandoah County. Goodlatte, first elected in 1992, has rankled some among the party faithful with his refusal to debate Kwiatkowski.
“Bob Goodlatte has disarmed truth by refusing to debate. He has turned his back on needed discussion of issues, policies and his voting record. Most importantly, he has turned his back on the residents of the Sixth District by depriving them of information to make informed decisions about their representative,” Bill Shirley, the chairman of the Augusta County Republican Committee, wrote in an op-ed published in Monday’s (Waynesboro) News Virginian.
Shirley endorsed Kwiatkowski in the Sixth District in the op-ed and also endorsed Jamie Radtke in the Senate race over Allen, “whose voting record on spending is deplorable,” the county GOP wrote, citing Allen’s support for more than 40,000 earmarks and his own salary increase among his spending sins.
Radtke is one of three candidates challenging Allen for the Senate nomination. Also running are social conservative Bob Marshall, a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, and E.W. Jackson.
The most recent statewide primary in Virginia was held in 2009, when Creigh Deeds emerged from a three-candidate field to win the Democratic Party gubernatorial nomination with voter turnout at 6.4 percent.
The most recent federal-office statewide primary was in 2006 when Jim Webb and Harris Miller squared off for the Democratic Party Senate nomination. Voter turnout in that primary was at 3.5 percent.
Republicans held their last statewide primary in 2005 when Jerry Kilgore won the GOP gubernatorial nomination with voter turnout at 4 percent.