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Virginia Republicans opt for primary nomination in 2017

The Republican Party of Virginia's State Central Committee voted 41-40 today to select the party's 2017 candidates by a primary, a shift from recent gubernatorial elections.

Ed Gillespie, who visited Loudoun County earlier this week, is considered the front-runner for the Republican nomination for governor. Also seeking the GOP nod is Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William County Board of Supervisors and Virginia campaign chair for Donald Trump's campaign, and U.S. Rep. Rob Wittman.

“This will be the first primary to nominate our state-level candidates since 2005,” Virginia GOP Chairman John Whitbeck said in a prepared statement. “Our 2016 presidential primary was the highest turnout in the history of Virginia for either party. Enthusiasm for Republican candidates is at an all-time high and we expect this to continue in 2017.”

Down ticket, local state Sen. Jill Vogel is seeking the party's nomination for lieutenant governor, as is state Sen. Bryce Reeves and state Del. Glenn Davis.

For attorney general, state Del. Rob Bell is the the favorite. Other candidates include John Adams, a former assistant U.S. attorney and Chuck Smith, a former chair of the Republican Party of Virginia Beach.

“I wish the State Central Committee had honored the 2015 handshake deal and gone with a convention,” Anthony DeFazio, a staffer for the Loudoun County Republican Committee, told the Times-Mirror. “That being said, I recognize many of the newly elected SCC members ran on their support of a primary and need to represent the Virginia Republicans who elected them.”

DeFazio continued, “We have an outstanding field of candidates for 2017, and I'm confident RPV will end up with qualified nominees to take on the Democrats.”

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