On Wednesday, the Virginia Department of Elections announced that it was too late for local Republicans to place Del. Nick Freitas’ name on the general election ballot, potentially requiring the GOP to run a write-in campaign to keep from forfeiting Freitas’ solidly red district this fall. Freitas vowed to appeal the decision to the state Board of Elections when it meets on Tuesday, adding that he’s willing to wage a write-in effort.
Freitas officially ended his re-election campaign last month because he hadn’t properly filed candidacy papers, but days later, the local Republican Party announced it would award him the GOP nomination anyway. Party officials hoped that, because Freitas had withdrawn before state election officials could disqualify him, state law would allow them to select him as their new nominee.
State law does allow a party to pick a new nominee if its original choice drops out or dies, but the question was whether Freitas’ screw up meant that the district even had a GOP nominee in the first place who could withdraw. The elections board never certified Freitas as the nominee, but Republican officials argued that he became the party’s official pick in March when no one else filed to take him on in the primary.
However, the Department of Elections rejected this line of thinking this week, saying that party leaders never had submitted a form saying that Freitas was the nominee—and to do so now was to do so too late. Amusingly, local Republican leader Bruce Kay insisted he had emailed Freitas’ nomination papers to the state earlier this year … but that he’d sent it to an outdated address. However, Kay was unable to prove he’d sent this form out at all, claiming that computer problems had erased two years of his emails. (But his emails!)
The 30th District backed Donald Trump 60-36 and supported 2017 GOP gubernatorial nominee Ed Gillespie 61-38, so a well-financed write-in campaign would have a good chance of success. Still, Democrats will count it a victory if the GOP has to divert resources from more competitive seats to hold this district, which Republicans shouldn’t have had to devote even a single thought to.
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