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Cao wins Republican Senate primary but faces a tough race to unseat Kaine

Retired Navy captain Hung Cao participates in a debate on Oct. 20, 2022, in Leesburg, Va. Cao won the 2024 Republican nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine.
Matthew Barakat
/
AP
Retired Navy captain Hung Cao participates in a debate on Oct. 20, 2022, in Leesburg, Va. Cao won the 2024 Republican nomination to challenge Democratic U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine.

Hung Cao was the Republican candidate who ran against Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton in the last election cycle. Now he has defeated four other candidates to win the statewide primary to be the Republican candidate for the United States Senate.

David Ramadan at George Mason University's Schar School says he thinks incumbent Senator Tim Kaine is likely to win in November.

"Hung Cao is not a good candidate. He's a candidate who has shown his inability to win in the past when he ran in Virginia 10. And he has made many mistakes and alienated many parts of the state,” Ramadan surmises.

 
One of those mistakes, he says, was calling the Staunton News Leader a "podunk local newspaper" -- a mistake Ramadan says voters will be hearing about during this election.

J. Miles Coleman at the University of Virginia says he'll be watching to see if the Republican Party or the super PACs start pumping money into this race.

"Right now, it seems like they are putting a lot of their eggs in the Montana and Ohio baskets because those are the two must-win states for the Senate Republicans," Coleman says. "So we'll see if they get involved in Virginia. But I think if Senator Kaine is in trouble or he's losing then the Senate is already in Republican hands."

For now, he says, the UVA Center for Politics’ Crystal Ball has this race as safe for Democrats.

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.