By: Michael Campbell, News Editor
12:00 p.m. | June 26, 2017
PRINCE GEORGE – While the recent dual primaries saw low turnout overall across the county and Virginia, it did play a vital role in setting the ballot of candidates facing off in the race for the governor’s mansion and a pair of key local races in Prince George.
In the battle for the Democratic nomination for Virginia governor, Dr. Ralph Northam bested fellow Democrat Tom Perriello during last week’s primary, with Northam earning over 55% of the vote, defeating his challenger by over 64,000 votes across the state.
The race for the Democratic lieutenant governor nomination featured a three-person battle between Justin Fairfax, Gene Rossi, Susan Platt, but it was Fairfax who captured the largest percentage of voters during Tuesday’s primaries, earning nearly 50 percent of the vote, with Platt finishing second by over 51,000 votes.
On the Republican side, the race for the GOP nomination for governor was a narrow one between Ed Gillespie and Corey Stewart, but Gillespie edged out second-place Stewart by just over one percentage point, or 4,544 votes, to earn the party’s nomination.
A similarly close race was seen the GOP primary for lieutenant governor as Jill Vogel narrowly defeated fellow Republican Bryce Reeves, Vogel, the 27th District state senator, capturing 42 percent of the vote to Reeves’ 40 percent.
When drilling down into the local numbers, which featured just over 3,000 ballots cast across the dual primaries out of 22,000 registered voters as of June to create a voter turnout of approximately 13 percent, on the Democratic side, Northam carried a vast majority of the vote over his challenger Perriello in the governor’s race, earning 62 percent of vote to Perriello’s 37 percent.
On the Democratic lieutenant governor ticket, a majority of Prince George voters selected Fairfax over Rossi or Platt, with Fairfax collecting over 59 percent of the vote, with Platt trailing well behind with only 26 percent of the vote in second place within the county.
For the Republican gubernatorial nomination, Prince George voters selected Stewart over Gillespie, with Stewart earning nearly 1,000 votes to Gillespie’s 780.
Echoing the statewide trend, the GOP primary for lieutenant governor was just a close within Prince George, with Reeves winning in the county over Vogel by a mere 66 votes and a narrow 45 percent of the vote.
While some voters only had to worry about the two statewide races, voters on both sides of Prince George had to made selections for who should work to earn their vote in the 63rd and 64th District House of Delegates during last week’s primaries.
In the 63rd House District Democratic Primary, which includes parts of Prince George, Dinwiddie, Chesterfield and the Tri-Cities, incumbent Lashrecse Aird won handily over her challenger Gerry Rawlinson, with Aird earning over 72 percent of the vote in the primary to now advance to the general election ticket in November, where she currently has no Republican challenger and likely return to Richmond for her second term as delegate.
Of the ballots cast in the 63rd District in Prince George, which includes pollings places in the Rives and Jefferson Park area, Aird earned over two-thirds of the vote over Rawlinson.
For the other side of the county, which falls within the confines of the 64th District, voters had to make decide which primary they were going to vote in as both the Democrats and Republicans hosted a primary Tuesday for the House of Delegates seat now open by Del. Rick Morris (R – 64), who has stated he does not plan to seek re-election as he deals with legal matters stemming from allegations he assaulted two family members.
On the Republican side, businesswoman Emily Brewer defeated Isle of Wight County Supervisor Rex Alphin, earning over 60 percent of the vote and the party’s nomination on the November ballot, while the Democratic three-person race between for the 64th House District ballot between John Wandling, Jerry Cantrell, and Rebecca Colaw saw Hampton Roads lawyer and military veteran Colaw earn 42 percent of the vote, setting up a faceoff between Brewer and Colaw during November’s general election in the 64th District.
Within Prince George’s 64th District, which features voting locations such as Richard Bland College, Union Branch, and Templeton, among others, Brewer defeated Alphin, with Brewer earning over three-quarters of the 1,663 votes cast by county voters in the Republican primary while Colaw carried a majority of Prince George voters, earning 450 votes throughout the district.
Most area registrars reported no problems and light turnout for Tuesday’s primaries, with this event serving as a precursor to the general election on November 7.
Polling place change for some Prince George County voters
For Prince George voters whose polling place is at Jefferson Park Fire Station, this month’s primary was the last time they will vote in that location as, shortly after the polls closed, supervisors held a public hearing and eventually approved moving the polling site to Faith Baptist Church at 5501 Middle Road.
The move comes after an earlier work session with the county’s electoral officials, who said the change is needed due to space issues both inside and outside the building and access for handicapped voters.
During the June 13 meeting, representatives from the Prince George Electoral Board spoke to leaders, noting that the facility has plenty of parking and getting in and out of the church parking lot on Election Day would be far easier at the Middle Road facility that it is currently at the fire station along Jefferson Park Road.
With the board’s unanimous approval, Faith Baptist Church will begin serving as the county’s new polling place replacing the Jefferson Park Fire Station starting with the November 7 general election.