One of the most heated Republican Senate primaries contests in the 2018 cycle reaches ends tonight in Virginia. State Delegate Nick Freitas faces former gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart and minister E.W. Jackson in the GOP primary to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., the formidable 2016 Democratic candidate for vice president.
Freitas, a libertarian-minded state lawmaker, has earned the endorsements of Sens. Rand Paul, R-Ky., and Mike Lee, R-Utah. He gained national attention from conservatives in March 2018 when a passionate speech he gave on the floor of the Virginia House of Delegates in defense of the Second Amendment went viral.
Stewart, once considered the front-runner, is running his second statewide campaign in two years. In 2017, he narrowly lost the Republican nomination for governor to Ed Gillespie, who went on to lose the general election to current Gov. Ralph Northam, D. He is a controversial figure and has come under fire for the actions of activists associated with his campaign. He has pledged to run a “ruthless” campaign against Kaine should he win the Republican nomination for Senate.
E.W. Jackson, a minister who previously ran for statewide office in 2012 and 2013, is also running.
Virginia uses an open primary system, meaning voters do not need to register with a political party to vote in that party’s election. The polls close at 7:00 p.m. ET.