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Virginia: GOP to Pick Perriello Opponent in Primary

Republican officials in Virginia’s 5th district have decided to choose their 2010 nominee against Rep. Tom Perriello (D) in a primary next June — the method preferred by a state legislator that the national party is promoting in a seven-candidate race.

Virginia law allows the political parties to nominate candidates by primary or convention, and the 5th district GOP organization voted 19 to 13 to hold a primary.

The decision was welcomed by state Sen. Robert Hurt, who is being touted by the National Republican Congressional Committee. But his six lower-profile opponents said a primary would burden cash-strapped local governments and also cause candidates to spend campaign funds that should be saved to compete against Perriello.

In Virginia, where there is no formal party registration, primaries are open to any voter who wishes to participate. Conventions feature smaller turnouts and tend to be dominated by very determined political activists.

A convention could have been problematic for Hurt, whose 2004 vote for a budget overhaul plan that raised some taxes has been criticized by anti-tax “tea party— activists, who also are angry at what they see as an anointing of Hurt by GOP establishment figures.

Laurence Verga, a real estate developer who is one of the other six Republicans in the race, wrote this on his Twitter page: “Today the Rep. establishment ignored grassroots call for convention and by secret ballot voted 4 a primary. I will stay in and win!—

The other Republican candidates are Feda Morton, an educator and conservative activist; Ken Boyd, a county supervisor; Michael McPadden, a pilot; Ron Ferrin, a businessman; and Jim McKelvey, a real estate developer.

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