LYNCHBURG, Va. – One of the three dozen primary races for state legislature seats Tuesday will be in the Lynchburg area.
Republican voters will choose between three candidates who are trying to replace Del. Scott Garrett, who for 10 years served the 23rd House District, which covers parts of Lynchburg and Amherst and Bedford counties. It’s a conservative district, one that typically goes to Republicans.
The candidates are party leader Wendell Walker, local Councilman Turner Perrow and activist Ron Berman.
They have near-identical stances on the major issues, but they come from different places.
Walker is the Lynchburg Republican Committee chair. The longtime political activist has spent decades helping other people get elected.
“That's what a lot of folks are saying. ‘Mr. Walker, we trust you. We know you because you understand the process,’” he said.
Virginia Sen. Steve Newman, among others, endorses him.
“We want a conservative leader. We want somebody who's pro-life, somebody that will stand up for our Second Amendment, somebody who understands how we can bring jobs, build our economy,” Walker said.
An engineer, Perrow has spent more than a decade on the Lynchburg City Council.
“I'm proud to be a Virginian,” he said. “Virginia is a changing state. We're seeing a lot of influence from outside… They're bringing values that aren't Virginian.”
He said he has the support of many business leaders.
“I'm an unapologetic capitalist and a pragmatic conservative. I work hard for my constituents. I'm easy to get in touch with and I look for the solutions,” Perrow said.
Ron Berman is a conservative activist and business owner who’s trying to position himself as the grassroots candidate, fighting against the establishment. He has endorsements from local conservative supervisors.
“We have a lot of folks in Richmond that are willing to negotiate, willing to trade on issue after issue. They're in the thrall of the donor class. I will not be,” he said.
He believes Del. Garrett and others aren’t conservative enough.
“Time and time again, we've sent folks that have done things in Richmond that have been contrary to the values of our voters,” Berman said.
Garrett sided with Democrats on a vote to expand Medicaid. All three candidates disagree with that decision.
Also, Walker, Perrow and Berman all share the following stances: They would oppose all gun control measures in the General Assembly. They would oppose any pro-choice measures and they are against the concept of sanctuary cities.
Through June 3, Walker and Perrow have raised just more than $50,000 while Berman has raised just short of $10,000.
Voter turnout is expected to be low for the race. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Voters must bring photo ID. Any voter in line by 7 p.m. will be able to cast a ballot.
The winner of Tuesday’s Republican primary will face Democrat David Zilles, whom the party nominated last month.
The November election will feature a battle for control of the legislature, as Republicans look to keep or expand upon their slight majorities in both chambers.