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A Look at the Potential Republican Challengers to Senator Mark Warner

Republican Party of Virginia

Republicans across Virginia will head to the polls Tuesday to select a candidate to go up against Senator Mark Warner. Michael Pope has this preview.

Daniel Gade is a college professor who wants to require every member of Congress place their holdings in a blind trust to prevent lawmakers from cashing in on classified briefings. Thomas Speciale is an intelligence officer who supports a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. And Alissa Baldwin is a middle school teacher who wants to outlaw abortion, dismantle the Department of Education and prohibit store owners from banning guns in their businesses.

None of those candidates have ever held elective office before, and former Republican Delegate David Ramadan, now at George Mason University’s Schar School, says the field shows the party is in big trouble. 

“There is no such thing as recruitment. There is no party apparatus. There is no structure. There is no real party leadership," he explains. "The RPV is no more than a mailbox and an answering machine.”

Turnout is expected to be very low. Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett says that means the winner is likely to be the candidate who leans as far right as possible. 

“Activists are going to be very much in control of it," says Tribbett. "And what we’ve seen with recent Republican primaries in the state is that that means the most conservative candidate is going to have a leg up if they can get the word out about that.”

Republicans will also select congressional candidates to run against Democratic Representatives Bobby Scott and Elaine Luria.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.