Tomorrow features a number of party primaries across Virginia. In some districts, incumbent members of the House of Delegates are facing challengers from within their own party. For example, in the northern Shenandoah Valley, Delegate Bev Sherwood faces Dr. Mark Berg and Delegate Todd Gilbert squares off against Mark Prince. All in all, about half a dozen Republican delegates have an interparty challenge. In addition, two Democratic delegates also will also have to defend themselves from within their own ranks.
Delegates in a vast majority of the commonwealth are unchallenged. However, regardless of the delegates’ races, in every single polling place there will be a primary; the Democratic Party will be selecting their nominees for lieutenant governor and attorney general for the 2013 general election.
Given that Virginia does not have party registration, every voter, regardless of party preference, can vote in tomorrow’s primary. It is not merely a contest for Democrats, but for Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, Constitutionalists, and independents. However, with those thoughts in mind, one important exception is that no one can vote in both parties’ primaries. Therefore, if you vote in a Republican contest on Tuesday, you will be ineligible to participate in the Democratic one as well (or vice versa).
Now, many Republicans I know are abstaining from voting tomorrow, claiming that it would be improper for Republicans to participate in a Democratic Party issue. I take a different approach. If the Democratic Party didn’t want outsiders to participate, then they would have held a convention like the Republicans did on May 18th and the Libertarians did on April 21st. In addition, given that the contest is decided by a primary, that means that the Virginia taxpayers pay for Tuesday’s contest. If a party takes my money, either directly or indirectly, then I believe that I am entitled to voice my opinion in that process.
With these thoughts in mind, how can we differentiate among the candidates? After all, the Democratic Party offers two choices for lieutenant governor and two choices for attorney general. They are (with a link included to their websites):
State Senator Ralph Northam
But for which of the candidates should you vote? Well, there are several competing theories, that I discussed more in depth in an article four years ago. You could vote for the candidate who you believe is the strongest (or weakest), in order to give the Democratic Party the best (or worst) chance of victory. However, my recommendation is to support whichever candidate best represents your political principles. After all, if a Democrat does win in the general election in November, I’m hoping we would get the most conservative of the candidates (assuming such a candidate exists).
For me, control of the Virginia Senate is a very important issue in the LG race. Given his openness to creating a power sharing agreement in the Virginia Senate (which is currently evenly split between Democratic and Republican Parties), I will be casting my primary vote for Ralph Northam. Then again, this very same issue may be the driving point which convinces some of my more liberal friends to choose Aneesh Chopra.
Although I know that many of my readers have no plans to vote in tomorrow’s primary, I still encourage you to learn about the various choices and cast a ballot based upon your research. Never go to the polls in ignorance; arrive well informed. Our political system requires a knowledgeable electorate.
Don’t forget tomorrow’s primary!
Thanks to Lowell Fulk for indirectly reminding me to write this piece through his Facebook post.