RICHMOND — Two Republican state senators lost to conservative challengers, while three Republican incumbents survived in yesterday’s legislative primaries.
A veteran Democratic senator lost his seat after endorsing a Republican in last year’s U.S. Senate race. Two incumbent House Democrats turned back challengers, and a disbarred former prosecutor won the Democratic nomination for a House seat
Sen. Marty E. Williams, Newport News Republican, got 46 percent of the vote to 54 percent for challenger Patricia Stall in a bitter intraparty fight that included unproved accusations of election fraud.
Miss Stall, a party activist, had told a prosecutor that Mr. Williams had improperly gathered signatures for his nominating petition, but the prosecutor dropped the case for lack of evidence.
Sen. J. Brandon Bell II, Roanoke County Republican, lost by 95 votes out of more than 7,200 cast to former Roanoke Mayor Ralph Smith.
Mr. Williams, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and Mr. Bell both supported a tax-reform package that included a $1.4 billion tax increase favored by then-Gov. Mark Warner and fellow legislative Democrats.
Republican Sens. Emmett W. Hanger Jr. of Augusta and Frederick M. Quayle of Suffolk survived their intraparty challenges — Mr. Quayle with more than 80 percent of the vote, and Mr. Hanger with a six percentage-point margin, according to unofficial totals.
Sen. Walter A. Stosch, Henrico Republican, barely survived a determined race from anti-tax challenger Joseph Blackburn, whom Mr. Stosch outspent by nearly a 6-to-1 ratio. Mr. Stosch won by 272 votes out of nearly 17,000 cast.
Sen. Benjamin J. Lambert III lost his Richmond-area seat to Delegate A. Donald McEachin in a race that was the Democratic Party’s payback for Mr. Lambert’s support last year of Republican U.S. Sen. George Allen over Democrat James H. Webb Jr. Mr. Allen’s loss handed the Democrats control of the U.S. Senate for the first time in 12 years, and Mr. Webb campaigned vigorously for Mr. McEachin.
If not for Mr. Lambert’s Republican endorsement last year, Mr. McEachin said he doubts he would have challenged him.
“It’s important to understand this was a two-step process. One, he supported a radical Republican, and two, the party has a comfort level with me as its standard-bearer,” said Mr. McEachin, who served four terms in the House and ran unsuccessfully for attorney general in 2001.
In another rancorous Democratic primary, Delegate Johnny S. Joannou of Portsmouth protected his 79th District House seat from first-time candidate Henry Light. Mr. Joannou in 2004 was the only Democrat to oppose Mr. Warner’s tax package, and Mr. Light had the popular former governor’s endorsement and more than twice the campaign contributions.
Mark D. Tate, a Republican Senate candidate indicted just three weeks ago on 11 felony campaign-related counts, lost by nearly a 2-to-1 ratio to Jill Holtzman Vogel. Mr. Tate said the charges were orchestrated by Mrs. Vogel’s political allies, and Mrs. Vogel angrily denied it. Mrs. Vogel meets Democrat Karen Schultz in November for the seat of retiring Republican Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr.
In other primaries:
n Delegate Dan Bowling, a Democrat, won 55 percent of the vote over challenger Michael G. McGlothlin in the 3rd House District.