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Previewing the Primary: Public Endorsements or Sitting on the Sidelines?

Virginia voters get to weigh in on the presidential contest this week. While some of the state’s congressional delegation have made public endorsements, others are sitting on the sidelines.      

Virginia always matters in general elections, but primaries are a different story. The presidential contests are usually becoming a little more clear by the time commonwealth voters get to weigh in, but this year’s races have thrown all conventional political wisdom out the window, according to Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner.

“Virginia will be hotly contested. I think there’s a lot of dissatisfaction with the political establishment.”

Warner, like every Virginia Democrat, is backing Hillary Clinton. Still he says the nation is having an important dialogue and he understands all the angst voters are feeling.

“Many of the issues we face right now are not conservative versus liberal, in the old, traditional sense. It’s more future versus past. And when the traditional political parties on both sides don’t lay out a vision for the future, unfortunately we see more growth in support for the extremes on both the left and the right.”

As for the Donald Trump factor, he’s been consistently on top of polls in the commonwealth. Virginia Republican Congressman Scott Rigell is hoping Virginia Republicans blunt Trump's momentum.

“I completely reject who he is, what he stands for, how he’s conducted himself. I don’t think he has the character uh, to be President of the United States. I don’t think he has the convictions, the proper uh moral, uh ruggedness and sturdy uh, a steady hand to, to be Commander and Chief. I think he’s reckless.”

Rigell is a supporter of Florida Senator Marco Rubio. 

“I don’t stand in judgement of that with my fellow Americans. In fact, I share much of the concern, and in fact to the level of being really deeply troubled by where we are as a country. But the solution to that is not to, what I think of as an emotional appeal uhm to someone, that’s being made by someone like Donald-Donald Trump.”

While Virginia Republican Congressman Morgan Griffith hasn’t endorsed anyone, he says if the Republican Party nominates Trump, then he’ll back him in the general election.

“I could. Because I can’t seriously vote for President Sanders or for President Clinton, in round two with Hillary. Uhm, just can’t do it. Not gonna do it. Not proven it this time.”

Virginia Republican Congressman Rob Wittman also hasn’t endorsed in the contest. He says it’s been good for the nation to have the contest still be undecided after the first few contests.

“I don’t care where you are with the candidates, ya know the more we are able to learn about them the more they are able to tell us about where they stand, and to do that under different conditions. I think these debates have been very telling about the candidates, so I think it’s a good thing.”

Wittman says he expects Virginia voters to come out in droves for the primary.

“I think-I think there will be good turnout because a lot of candidates have-that have their uh supporters galvanized, they have them organized. So I think we’ll have a really good turnout on March the first.” 


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