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UPDATED: May changes course, will run for Virginia Senate as independent

Joe May, who has served as a Republican in the Virginia House of Delegates for 20 years, announced Dec. 3 he’ll run as an independent to replace attorney general-elect Mark Herring in the state senate. May lost a Republican primary for his House of Delegates seat in June. Times-Mirror File Photo/Beverly Denn
Twenty-year Republican state Del. Joe May (R-33rd) will run as an independent to succeed attorney general-elect Mark Herring in the Senate of Virginia, May announced this morning, less than 24 hours after declaring a Republican candidacy for Herring's Senate seat.

May's decision was spurred by the 33rd Senate Republican Legislative District Committee's decision late Monday to hold a mass meeting Dec. 16 to nominate its candidate, as opposed to a firehouse primary. That move is seen by some in Republican circles as a leg up for candidate John Whitbeck, chairman of the 10th Congressional District Republican Committee.

May, 76, said he finds the “closed process unacceptable.”

“Yesterday I announced my candidacy for the Republican nomination for the 33rd State Senate district. I did so in good faith,” May said today. “Late last night, just hours after I had announced my intention to run in a firehouse primary, that good faith was rewarded by an attempt to deprive the voters of the 33rd district the opportunity to vote in a fair and open process.

“In an unannounced meeting, that was hidden from the press, the public and even other Republican Party committee members,” May continued, “five people made a decision which excluded all but a handful of voters from the selection process.”

May was defeated in June by tea party favorite Dave LaRock in a Republican primary for the House of Delegates 33rd District seat. Since then, there's been speculation May would run as an independent, first for his House of Delegates seat and then -- after Herring's recount-pending victory -- the Senate seat.

“I have been a Republican and a conservative all my life,” said May. “But today, I join Senator Byrd as an independent … I ask for the support of every Virginian in the 33rd District – Republican, independent and Democrat alike. We must ensure every voter has the opportunity to participate and to be heard. We must reject Washington style politics in our great commonwealth.”

With May's departure from the Republican race, Whitbeck will square off against Herndon's Ron Meyer, a public relations professional, in the Dec. 16 nominating meeting.

Mark Sell, chairman of the 33rd Senate Republican Legislative District Committee, has not responded to phone calls or an email seeking comment.

Introducing May at his campaign's kick-off Monday -- when he still intended to run as a Republican -- veteran Del. Tom Rust (R-86th) said May always “does the right thing” in the General Assembly.

“Sometimes we'll be sitting there when we're getting ready to vote on something,” Rust said, “and [May] will say to me, in essence, 'If I vote 'A' that's the political right decision, but if I vote 'B,' that's the right decision for Virginia and it's the right decision for the district,' and Joe takes position 'B.' He takes the tough votes.”

Democrats have elected Leesburg attorney Jennifer Wexton as their nominee, and no date has been set for the special election.

This story has been updated from an earlier version.

Contact the writer at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


Not very far out of touch judging by the last election for governor. Joe rejected the republicans by voting for every tax he could now that he was rejected by the electorate his faithful followers have convinced him to run again but after whining about the process he changed like a chameleon to a independent even though there was time to rally his base for the mass meeting. A fools errand and another loss coming for Joe the ? ? ?

Mr. May made the only sane choice available. The leaders of the Republican Party are a fringe group who are out of touch with the concerns of everyday people (who else nominates Ken Cuccinelli and E.W. Jackson?) and turn off reasonable people from participating. I, personally, am tired of the actions of a few out-there Republicans handing jokes about our state to Saturday Night Live and other comics!

I don’t know how Joe May could be involved in party politics for 20 years and not understand the process for nomination. I wonder if Tom Rust will continue to support Joe now that he has jumped ship?

Joe May just lost with that announcement. He won’t get 80% of the partisan voters who split 50/50 for Democrats or Republicans. And I doubt he’ll win over 100% of the remaining 20% of the independents. Hope he isn’t using his retirement money to fund his campaign.

Stupid decision.

Geez, at this rate the current version of the local GOP is eventually going to be meeting in a rented tour bus. 

“Purge, purge, we need more purging!!” “Keep it lily pure and keep the reasonable Republicans out of any level of influence or consideration.”

Oh wait!  How did that closed door selection process for Cuccinelli, Jackson, and Obenshain work out?  Wasn’t that supposed to be a winning formula?  Nah, why change and mix the washed with the unwashed. 

Good move May! 


Gee, I guess the “big-tent” party known as the tea-bag republican funhouse, just got some wind blowing through, and deposited Mr. May elsewhere.  I do have to agree with Mr. May.  He announces, and then, aw shucks, we get a process where three people will show up.  Let the fun times roll.

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