- Associated Press - Saturday, May 19, 2018

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) - Ben Cline, a state delegate and former staffer for retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte, was selected Saturday as the Republican nominee for Virginia’s 6th Congressional District.

Cline won the nomination at a convention Saturday that drew more than 2,000 delegates to James Madison University.

News reports indicate Cline received 52 percent of the votes on the first ballot in an eight-person field. His chief competitor, Republican National Committeewoman Cynthia Dunbar, moved after the first ballot to nominate Cline by acclimation.

Cline received a boost at the start of the convention when another candidate, Rockingham County circuit court clerk Chaz Haywood, withdrew and threw his support to Cline.

Supporters of Cline and Dunbar had clashed in the weeks leading up to the convention. Cline and other candidates had complained that convention organizers were favoring Dunbar, the 2016 state co-chair for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign.

For the past 16 years, Cline has represented Rockbridge County, Lexington and parts of the Shenandoah Valley in the House of Delegates.

The 6th District is one of the most reliably Republican in Virginia, so Cline starts the race as a favorite in a year when Democrats are expected to pick up numerous seats.

Four Democrats are vying for the party nomination in a June 12 primary.

The retirement of Goodlatte, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, opened a seat Goodlatte has held for more than two decades.

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