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How successful are write-in campaigns in Virginia?


Voters are already casting ballots for the November election. But, some voters won’t see the names of all the candidates printed on those ballots.

After losing a Senate primary with eight candidates, Republican Delegate Dave LaRock now says he wants to run as a write-in candidate. It's not impossible or unprecedented. Republican Delegate Nick Freitas won as a write-in candidate in 2019 after failing to submit paperwork on time.

But, David Ramadan at George Mason University's Schar School says it's extremely unlikely to work.

"It's a sore loser who decided to move from where he lived into a new district so he can run for this new Senate district, couldn't win the primary and then in Trump fashion any time you lose you make accusations that it was rigged," Ramadan says.

Wes Bellamy at Virginia State University says write-in candidates almost always lose.

"To write a name in requires a level of research that a lot of people just don't have," Bellamy says. "And then furthermore, for you to be able to beat a person who is actually on the ballot with a write in, it means that you’ve spent serious cash in terms of getting your name out there."

Back in 1989, Jackie Stump was able to unseat a longtime incumbent as a write-in candidate in a southwest Virginia House district. But that was an outlier. In 2014, Alexandria Mayor Bill Euille lost the Democratic primary and then ran as a write-in candidate and lost again.

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.