Super Tuesday will probably live up to the name in Loudoun County.
Democrats and Republicans alike are preparing for a very busy Virginia primary on March 1.
“We have motivation galore,” said Mike Haynes, chairman of the Loudoun County Republican Committee. “I think the turnout on the Republican primary will be very high. Everyone is excited about the election cycle, and I think the Republicans feel like they have a really good shot at taking the White House. And with that many people on the ballot, it stirs a lot of people.”
Fernando “Marty” Martinez, Leesburg councilman and chairman of the Loudoun County Democratic Committee, agreed that enthusiasm is high.
“Really, all we can do is wait and see,” Martinez said. “I know that we have a lot of Hillary and Bernie supporters, and we’re all working together.”
The Loudoun race matters to presidential hopefuls who are paying attention. The politically purple county—situated in politically purple Virginia—was a regular campaign stop for candidates ahead of the 2012 presidential election.
Tuesday, Feb. 23: Deadline to request to have a ballot mailed to you.
Saturday, Feb. 27: Deadline to vote an absentee ballot in person
Details: Loudoun.gov/vote or 703-777-0380
“Loudoun County means a lot to the area of Northern Virginia,” Martinez said. “Some call it the bellwether for the state.” Haynes agreed.
Voters in the Republican primary particularly will face a very crowded ballot. The Republican ballot has 13 names, including several candidates who have dropped out. (Because official ballots are printed well in advance, those names will still appear.) Haynes said those former candidates will likely get some votes anyway.
“That happened in New Hampshire, too,” he said. “It’ll happen everywhere. As you saw in New Hampshire, some people will go ahead and vote for that person even though they’re no longer in the race. You’re basically throwing your vote away when you do that.”
Republicans will see, in order: Marco Rubio, Lindsey Graham, Ben Carson, Rand Paul, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Donald Trump, Jim Gilmore, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Rick Santorum, John Kasich, and Carly Fiorina. As of Tuesday, Feb. 16, more than half have dropped out of the race: Graham, Paul, Huckabee, Gilmore, Christie, Santorum, and Fiorina, and there’s still time for more to leave before Super Tuesday.
Democrats will choose from three names on their ballot: Hillary Clinton, Martin O’Malley, and Bernie Sanders. O’Malley has left the race.
The Republican Party of Virginia, after successfully defending in court a rule that would require primary voters to sign a loyalty pledge, has dropped the pledge after all. Republican primary voters will not have to sign a loyalty pledge.
“That’s probably a good thing, that it’s not there now,” Haynes said. “It caused a lot of confusion, but at its core, all it was trying to do was make sure Republicans pick the Republican candidate, and I don’t see a problem with that.”
And voting matters.
“When we talk about freedom and patriotism, sometimes we use that word way too cheaply,” Martinez said. He said freedom has been bought at a dear price by people in every echelon of society. “If we really want to pay respect to our veterans, to our leaders, to the people in the past who have sacrificed and died in the past so we can have this freedom,” we should vote, he said. “To me, it’s the one freedom that we have to exercise.”
The election is open to all registered voters in Loudoun County. Virginia does not recognize party affiliation when registering citizens to vote. Voters will be asked to choose which primary they wish to vote in upon arrival. Virginia law now requires all voters to provide a photo identification at the polls.