Chesapeake bishop surprises, wins Va. GOP lieutenant governor nomination
RICHMOND — After Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II formally accepted his party’s nomination for governor and Virginia GOP scion Mark Obenshain secured the same for attorney general, it was a political neophyte who stole the show Saturday with multiple helpings of 11th-hour drama.
Chesapeake Bishop E.W. Jackson, who mounted an unsuccessful run for U.S. Senate last year, emerged the wire-to-wire winner in the race for the GOP nomination for Virginia’s lieutenant governor at the state GOP’s nominating convention Saturday. It took four ballots and about 10 hours of voting for Mr. Jackson to emerge from a field of seven — and some confusing and conflicting endorsement claims surfaced as the voting spilled into the evening.
Mr. Jackson — who earlier in the day proclaimed that “I am not an African-American, I am an American!” — led the pack after the first ballot, and former state Sen. Jeannemarie Devolites Davis of Fairfax County and state Sen. Steve Martin of Chesterfield County did not make the second one after they finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
The second ballot then weeded out Del. L. Scott Lingamfelter of Prince William County and Stafford County Board of Supervisors Chairman Susan Stimpson, who had placed second in the first round of balloting.
On the third ballot, Mr. Jackson won 49.7 percent of the vote — agonizingly close to the 50-plus-1 threshold needed for an outright win — with Northern Virginia businessman Pete Snyder winning 30.6 percent and Corey Stewart, Prince William County Board of Supervisors chairman, getting 19.7 percent. As the lowest vote-getter, Mr. Stewart was not allowed to proceed to another ballot.
Then things got interesting.
Fliers were distributed claiming that both Mr. Stewart and Mr. Obenshain, a state senator from Harrisonburg, had endorsed Mr. Snyder. Mr. Obenshain’s father, Richard Obenshain, won the party’s nomination in 1978 before dying in a plane crash later that year. Former Sen. John W. Warner took his place and went on to serve five terms in the U.S. Senate.
Minutes after the results were announced, however, Mr. Stewart and Mr. Jackson, the first black candidate the party has nominated for statewide office since 1988, were seen walking off the convention floor, arms raised high, as people cheered.
“Unfortunately there are fliers circulating that erroneously state that I have endorsed a candidate for LG,” Mr. Obenshain also said on Twitter.
It was certainly unexpected for many of those left from the approximately 8,000 people who attended the convention. Next to Mr. Martin, Mr. Jackson had raised the least amount of money of the seven candidates through March 31, and received just 4.7 percent of the vote in a four-way primary for U.S. Senate last year.
But by Saturday night, none of that mattered.
“Thank you for believing in me,” Mr. Jackson said to the delegates in the crowd who were left.
In the Democratic contest for lieutenant governor, state Sen. Ralph Northam of Norfolk and Aneesh Chopra, who served as the country’s chief technology officer under President Obama, will battle it out in next month’s primary. Both men used “extreme” to characterize Mr. Jackson in statements late Saturday.
• This article is based in part on wire service reports.
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