POLITICS: Campaigns

Virginia Democrats to complete statewide ticket Tuesday

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Local,Virginia,Steve Contorno,Democratic Party,Campaigns

Virginia voters on Tuesday will complete the Democratic ticket in this year's statewide elections, picking candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general in primaries that will determine who will share the ticket with gubernatorial contender Terry McAuliffe.

The Democratic primary, lacking a marquee showdown for governor, is expected to be a low-turnout affair. McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman who lost his primary battle for governor four years ago, is unopposed this time and will face Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in November.

Republicans already selected their candidates for office at a state convention held last month.

In the lieutenant governor's race, voters will choose between state Sen. Ralph Northam of Norfolk and former White House technology czar Aneesh Chopra of Arlington. The winner will face Republican nominee E.W. Jackson, a Chesapeake pastor.

The Washington Examiner reported Monday that Jackson has a history of financial issues, including unpaid taxes and a bankruptcy.

Chopra has raised more than twice as much campaign cash as Northam, drawing heavily from tech industry insiders across the country. Northam, however, has enjoyed more support from the party establishment and is the only statewide Democratic candidate for office that doesn't hail from Northern Virginia.

The Democratic primary for attorney general pits Sen. Mark Herring of Loudoun County against Justin Fairfax, a former federal prosecutor and political novice. Whoever comes out on top will square off with Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg in the fall.

Whatever the final outcome is Tuesday, Democrats are likely to run as a united ticket, while Cuccinelli and Obenshain have distanced themselves from Jackson since he emerged as the victor in a crowded seven-man race for lieutenant governor.

"While Republicans nominated the most extreme ticket in Virginia history, the Democratic ticket will be unified in their focus on mainstream ideas to strengthen and diversify Virginia's economy," said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin. "Cuccinelli, Jackson and Obenshain have spent the last several weeks defending their extreme policies and rhetoric, including attacks on Planned Parenthood, demonization of gay Virginians and opposition to the bipartisan transportation compromise."

McAuliffe may be unopposed this go around, but in 2009, he finished second in a three-way race against state Sen. Creigh Deeds, the eventual nominee, and former Del. Brian Moran. Republicans are now repeatedly reminding voters of the bruising criticisms that Moran and Deeds raised against McAuliffe in that campaign. Cuccinelli's campaign on Monday was quoting Moran saying that McAuliffe's "character is his greatest vulnerability" and that "we need a fighter, not a fundraiser" as governor.

"As we approach the final hours of the 2013 Democrat primary," said Virginia Republican Party spokesman Jahan Wilcox, "the charges levied by Terry McAuliffe's 2009 opponents still ring true today."

scontorno@washingtonexaminer.com

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