BRISTOL, Va. — Turnout is expected to be light as voters head to the polls today to choose candidates in two Republican primary elections.
Two seats in the Virginia House of Delegates will be up for grabs with only one incumbent on the ballot. Del. Israel O’Quinn, 39, of Bristol, will seek his fifth term representing the 5th District but faces challenger Michael Osborne, 61, of Washington County. The district includes the cities of Bristol and Galax, along with portions of Washington, Smyth and Grayson counties.
The winner will run unopposed in November.
In the 4th District, attorney William C “Will” Wampler III, 28, of Abingdon, faces David “Peanut” Eaton, 55, of Honaker, a business owner and member of the Russell County Board of Supervisors.
Wampler is the son of former state Sen. William Wampler Jr. and the grandson of former U.S. Rep. William Wampler, both of Bristol. Eaton is vice chairman of the county board and the owner of Cable Plus Inc., which provides internet, cable TV and phone service in Russell, Dickenson, Buchanan and Tazewell counties.
District 4 includes all of Dickenson County and portions of Russell, Washington and Wise counties. Incumbent Todd Pillion is running in the 4th District for the state Senate in November.
The winner of Tuesday’s 4th District primary will face Dr. Starla Kiser, a physician from Coeburn, in the Nov. 5 general election.
Across the state, there are seven GOP House primaries and five Senate primaries. On the Democrat side, there are 11 Senate primary elections and 12 House primaries.
“I think we’ll see very light turnout,” Washington County General Registrar Derek Lyall said Monday, predicting that about 5% to 7% of registered voters will participate. “We do have candidates who live in the county, so that might help some, but primary elections usually have very light turnout.”
Lyall’s office had 113 requests for absentee ballots and issued 43 via mail. Seventy voted in person, a small percentage compared to most general elections.
Bristol Virginia General Registrar Penny Limburg said her office had 17 absentee ballots but did field a few telephone calls on Monday.
“Single primaries like this will probably mean about 1% to 2% turnout,” she said. “Looking back on the gubernatorial primary with two parties, we had about 4% Democrat and 5% Republican. The solo Democratic primary in 2013 had 1% turnout.”
All regular voting precincts will be open today from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Voters are reminded they must have some form of approved photo ID, such as a Virginia driver’s license, DMV-issued photo ID, U.S. passport or other similar identification in order to cast a ballot.
Weather isn’t expected to impact voting, as the forecast calls for a very slight chance of rain in the morning, then sunny to partly cloudy conditions throughout the day, with high temperatures in the mid-70s and lows in the mid-50s.