- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 20, 2002

Democrats and Republicans have set firehouse primaries for next week to nominate candidates for the special election to choose a successor to state Sen. Warren E. Barry, Fairfax Republican.

Republicans will hold their primary at Robinson High School in Braddock on June 27, from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

The two candidates running for the nomination are Ken Cuccinelli, a lawyer from Centreville, and Mike Thompson, founder and president of the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy in Springfield.

The Democratic primary will be held in three locations on June 29, from noon to 5 p.m. The locations the Stone Middle School in Sully, White Oaks Elementary School in Springfield and Fairview Elementary School in Braddock.

Lawyer Jim Mitchell and Fairfax County School Board member Cathy Belter are the two Democrats vying for the nomination.

Firehouse primaries are similar to caucus meetings, except the voters can leave after they have voted. These type of primaries often are held during special elections because turnout is typically low, and fewer facilities are needed.

Mr. Barry, who represented the 37th Senate District, resigned earlier this month to accept a post in Gov. Mark R. Warner's administration. The 37th Senate District runs from Springfield to Centreville.

Mr. Warner, Democrat, has announced the special general election to succeed Mr. Barry will be held Aug. 6.

"The governor had every right to make the election when he did. It's the political thing to do," Mr. Thompson said. "He is hoping that the low turnout for an August election will help Democrats capture the seat."

Republicans hold a 22-18 advantage in the Senate.

"The district is quite Republican, but I don't know" if the date favors us due to low turnout, said Jan Reeves, chairman of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee. "Frankly I hope so, but I am sure the Republicans are thinking the same thing."

Before getting to general election, however, both parties need to nominate their candidates. The Republican candidates feel the one-site location could hinder supporter turnout.

"A lot of people are upset, but I hope they still turn out to vote," said Mr. Cuccinelli. "This location is going to depress the turnout from Centreville and Chantilly and will help Mike Thompson."

Bill Finerfrock, chairman of the 37th District Republican Senate Committee, which set the time and date of the special primary, has endorsed Mr. Thompson, but said Mr. Cuccinelli's accusations are not true.

"I tried to get it as centrally located as possible and for it to be in a large enough place to deal with what we thought the turnout might be," Mr. Finerfrock said. He decided against having multiple locations to avoid confusion as to where people could vote, he said.

Mr. Thompson said the location could actually help Mr. Cuccinelli because people will vote on their way home.

"With a small turnout, I will sweat until 9:30, but I have had some people tell me that this could help Ken because people driving home to Centreville will stop there, where there is no way the people in Springfield can get there on their way home from work," he said.

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