Republican incumbent Frederick M. Quayle will face off against Portsmouth City Council member Steve Heretick, a Democrat, for the 13th District state Senate seat, in a race that could affect the balance of power in the General Assembly.
Quayle, a lawyer with a private practice in Chesapeake, has held the seat for 16 years. But the Democrats are targeting the race as one of many statewide they hope to make competitive in a year when all 140 General Assembly seats are on the ballot. Republicans currently hold a 23-17 majority in the Virginia Senate.
Quayle, who is 70, and Heretick, 46, earned their spots on the ballot Tuesday with easy primary wins amid sparse turnout.
The 13th covers all of Surry County, parts of Isle of Wight, Southampton and Prince George counties, and parts of the cities of Suffolk, Franklin, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Hopewell.
While the district boundaries have changed since he took office, Quayle has won four consecutive elections. He holds a money advantage over Heretick right now - as of June 4, Quayle had $95,188 on hand to Heretick's $43,086, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, which tracks campaign finances.
But other factors point to the potential for a close race.
Heretick, a former Justice Department lawyer who now has his own litigation firm, won an at-large election in 2004 in Portsmouth, which has 20,808 of the district's 122,030 registered voters. The district also stretches to Hopewell and Prince George County, where Heretick grew up and has family ties.
Heretick said Tuesday night that his campaign will focus on finding solutions to transportation, economic development and education problems. He said he will highlight what he called Quayle's "missed opportunities" to serve the district on these and other issues.
"Leadership requires a lot of hard work and a lot of continuing effort," he said. "Fred has served honorably. He has just not served actively."
Quayle disagreed, saying he does not seek out or enjoy the limelight, but has delivered results to the district "without a lot of fireworks."
He added, "I am not sure Mr. Heretick has been around long enough to know all that I've done for this district."
In Tuesday's primaries, Quayle had 1,950 votes to Ramsey's 391, according to unofficial totals from the state Board of Elections.
With 77 of 78 precincts reporting in the Democratic primary, Heretick had 3,102 votes to David Bouchard's 1,276.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times