- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 14, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia voters are set to head to the polls Tuesday in a handful of primary elections around the state.

Here’s what you need to know before Election Day:

- Who is running?

There are primaries in only three congressional districts - the 2nd, 4th and 6th - and in State Senate District 1.

The most closely watched race is the Republican 2nd District primary, where Rep. Randy Forbes is facing off against former Navy SEAL and state lawmaker Scott Taylor and attorney Pat Cardwell. The race between Forbes and Taylor has been marked by its negative tone, with both candidates assailing each other’s character. The 2nd District includes much of the defense-heavy Hampton Roads area, and the race has focused heavily on national security issues.

In the 4th District, which stretches from Chesapeake to Richmond, both parties are having primaries. State Sen. A. Donald McEachin is facing off against Chesapeake City Council member Ella Ward in the Democratic contest. On the Republican side, Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade is facing off against Chesterfield Country resident Jackee Gonzalez.

In the 6th District, which runs from the northern Shenandoah Valley to Roanoke, longtime incumbent Rep. Bob Goodlatte is facing tea party favorite Harry Griego in a Republican primary.

Newport News-area Democrats will decide between Del. Monty Mason and Newport News School Board Member Shelly Simonds. They are running to replace former Sen. John Miller, who died of a heart attack earlier this year.

- What’s new this election?

This is the first set of elections taking place in Virginia since a panel of federal judges ordered the state to impose a new redistricting plan crafted by a court-appointed expert. The judges ruled that lawmakers in 2012 illegally packed black voters into the 3rd Congressional District, which is represented by Democrat Rep. Bobby Scott, to make surrounding districts safer for GOP incumbents.

The biggest change to the new maps was to make the 4th District, which is currently held by Forbes, much friendlier to Democrats by significantly increasing the number of African-American voters. Forbes’ decision to leave the district and run in the more GOP-friendly 2nd District, which is being vacated by retiring Rep. Scott Rigell, has been the focus of Taylor’s attacks during the primary.

- Why aren’t there races where I live?

Most Virginians will not have a primary race. That’s because there were either no contested elections, or the parties decided to select nominees through other means, like conventions.

- What else?

Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. To find out your congressional district and polling place, go here: https://vote.elections.virginia.gov/

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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