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Rigell, Hurt and Fimian Earn GOP Nods in Virginia

The frontrunners emerged victorious in three competitive Republican Congressional primaries in Virginia on Tuesday.

Auto dealer Scott Rigell won the six-candidate primary in the 2nd district and will face freshman Rep. Glenn Nye (D) in what should be one of the nation’s most competitive House races.

Rigell won 39 percent to top a field that included Ben Loyola (27 percent), an engineering firm owner, and Bert Mizusawa (18 percent), a brigadier general in the Army Reserve. Three others split the remainder of the Republican vote.

Armed with fundraising heft, ample personal resources and an impressive collection of endorsements, Rigell was the Republican race’s frontrunner from start to finish. He came under fire for a March 2008 donation to Barack Obama that Rigell, a prodigious contributor to Republican causes, defended as a rare Democratic donation meant to prevent Hillary Rodham Clinton from becoming president.

Virginia’s 2nd, which includes all of Virginia Beach, historically has voted Republican but backed Obama in 2008, when Nye unseated two-term Rep. Thelma Drake (R). Republicans expect a more friendly partisan composition of voters this fall in a district where there is no race for president, governor or Senator to help drive turnout.

Democrats note that Nye is well-funded, with $1.1 million in his campaign account as of April 18. And party officials hope that some anti-Rigell Republicans will vote for Kenny Golden, a former Virginia Beach Republican Party chairman who is running as an Independent.

State Sen. Robert Hurt was the victor in the crowded 5th district Republican primary and will face Rep. Tom Perriello (D) in the fall.

With nearly all of the vote counted, Hurt had 48 percent in a seven-candidate race in which his toughest competitor was real estate developer Jim McKelvey, a self-financing candidate who took 26 percent.

They were followed by airline pilot Mike McPadden (10 percent), county Supervisor Ken Boyd (7 percent), conservative activist Feda Morton (5 percent), real estate developer Laurence Verga (2 percent) and businessman Ron Ferrin (2 percent).

Hurt was the preferred candidate of the National Republican Congressional Committee but had to combat criticism from McKelvey and other opponents of his 2004 vote for a tax increase. Hurt defended his overall record as supportive of tax relief and spending restraint.

Perriello was a narrow victor in 2008, and Republican officials think his votes for a climate change bill and the health care overhaul make him vulnerable in a district that has a general conservative lean. But they also acknowledge Perriello is working the district hard and will not be as easy to unseat as they thought 19 months ago.

Perriello had almost $1.6 million in his campaign account as of May 16.

Jeffrey Clark, a self-described social and fiscal conservative, filed to run as an Independent.

Meanwhile, in the Northern Virginia 11th district, businessman Keith Fimian is the newly minted Republican nominee, where he will compete in a rematch against freshman Rep. Gerald Connolly (D).

Fimian, the founder of a home inspection company, had 57 percent of the vote in mostly complete returns to outperform Fairfax County Supervisor Pat Herrity, who took 43 percent in a district that takes in some outer suburbs of Washington, D.C.

Fmian dominated the vote in Prince William County and was running about even with Herrity in populous Fairfax.

Fimian began his campaign earlier than Herrity, was better-funded and criticized his opponent’s vote for a modest increase in property taxes. Herrity said he had a much longer history of local civic involvement.

Connolly beat Fimian by 12 points in 2008, when Obama carried the district by 15 points as the Democratic presidential nominee.

Republicans expect a more favorable political climate this fall and have attacked Connolly’s vote for the health care overhaul.

Democrats plan to paint Fimian as too conservative for the district and will raise questions about his business background.

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