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A Quirk of 2021: The Same Candidates in Two Primaries

This election cycle will include a strange quirk that most voters have never seen: A ballot that includes the same name for two different races.

Democrats who vote in the June primary might end up doing a double take on their ballot, where some will see the same name in the House primary and in a statewide race.

Delegate Lee Carter is running for governor, but he also has two opponents in the primary for his House seat. Delegate Elizabeth Guzman and Delegate Mark Levine are both running for lieutenant governor while also facing down primary opponents. And Delegate Jay Jones is trying to unseat the incumbent attorney general while also beating back a primary challenge.

"They've certainly put themselves at risk," says Quentin Kidd, a political scientist at Christopher Newport University.  Kidd says these four House Democrats are more on the progressive side so they may be betting it'll be hard to challenge them from the left.  "That may be the calculation that these four have made, that they're in such safe Democratically oriented districts that they're willing to take the chance."

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says running for two different offices at the same time sends a conflicted message.  "When a candidate runs for two offices at the same time, they're sending two messages. One I want something better than what I have and two I'm not sure I'm going to be able to get it."

So far Delegate Sam Rasoul has no primary opponent for his House seat in Roanoke, so that won’t impact his campaign for lieutenant governor. But the deadline for candidates is March 25.

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

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.