Breaking News
More () »

Several of Virginia's US House districts aren't having primaries Tuesday. Here's why.

Out of Virginia's 11 congressional districts, only five will have primaries on June 21.

NORFOLK, Va. — As Republicans and Democrats in Virginia head to the polls to elect their candidates of choice for the U.S. House of Representatives, many nominees are already set for the November 2022 election.

Five of Virginia's 11 congressional districts — the 2nd, 3rd, 6th, 7th, and 8th — will have primaries on Tuesday, June 21, with all but the 8th District being Republican races.

RELATED: VOTER GUIDE: Virginia's midterm primary election on June 21

But why aren't primaries being held in the other congressional districts? In the six remaining races, candidates were nominated by other means.

Alternatives to primary elections allowed under state law

Under Virginia law, a political party's primary is canceled when a candidate runs for the nomination unopposed or if no one runs at all.

If only one person qualifies for a party's nomination, they automatically become the party's nominee. This was the case in over half of the House races this year, mostly amongst Democrats:

  • Republican Rep. Rob Wittman and Democratic nominee Herb Jones in Virginia's 1st Congressional District.
  • Democratic Rep. Elaine Luria in Virginia's 2nd Congressional District.
  • Democratic Rep. Bobby Scott in Virginia's 3rd Congressional District.
  • Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin and Republican nominee Leon Benjamin in Virginia's 4th Congressional District.
  • Democratic nominee Josh Throneburg in Virginia's 5th Congressional District.
  • Democratic nominee Jennifer Lewis in Virginia's 6th Congressional District.
  • Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger in Virginia's 7th Congressional District.
  • Republican Rep. Morgan Griffith in Virginia's 9th Congressional District.
  • Democratic Rep. Jennifer Wexton in Virginia's 10th Congressional District.
  • Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly in Virginia's 11th Congressional District.

When no one runs, a party can use an alternative way to pick a candidate, such as a nominating convention. Parties can also choose to forego a primary election in favor of other nominating methods. Five of the nominees were picked by their parties at a convention this year:

  • Republican Rep. Bob Good in Virginia's 5th Congressional District.
  • Republican nominee Karina Lipsman in Virginia's 8th Congressional District.
  • Democratic nominee Taysha DeVaughan in Virginia's 9th Congressional District.
  • Republican nominee Hung Cao in Virginia's 10th Congressional District (elected by firehouse primary).
  • Republican nominee Jim Myles in Virginia's 11th Congressional District (elected by firehouse primary).

Yes, firehouse primaries are a thing

A firehouse primary — also known as a party canvass — is a candidate selection process run by party officials instead of election officials, according to an archived handbook for Virginia Republican Party officials.

For example, Republican officials in Virginia's 10th Congressional District held a firehouse primary on May 21 at different locations throughout the district. Voters "in accord with the principles of the Republican Party" had seven hours to cast a ballot for a U.S. House candidate.

According to Google Trends, Virginia is the only state where "firehouse primary" has been widely searched, looking at data between 2004 and the present day.

Stay updated with the Virginia primaries

13News Now has all the information you need for the June 21 primary elections. Use 13News Now's voter guide to see where, when and how to cast your vote.

Before You Leave, Check This Out