ARLINGTON — Democrat Justin Fairfax captured the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor Tuesday and Jill Holtzman Vogel, a state senator from Fauquier, narrowly won the Republican contest.
Fairfax, 38, a former federal prosecutor from Annandale who previously ran for attorney general in 2013 and narrowly lost that nomination to Mark R. Herring, on Tuesday defeated lobbyist and activist Susan Platt and former prosecutor Gene Rossi.
With 99.6 percent of precincts reporting, Fairfax had 49.13 percent of the vote, to 39.18 percent for Platt and 11.69 percent for Rossi.
“I am so thankful to the people of Virginia for this vote of confidence in our vision for the future of the commonwealth,” Fairfax said in a statement, adding: “Virginia is going to be the match that sparks a progressive wildfire that spreads across the country. It starts tonight. This is just the beginning.”
In the Republican contest, Vogel edged state Sen. Bryce E. Reeves of Spotsylvania. Del. Glenn R. Davis Jr. of Virginia Beach finished third.
With 99.88 percent of precincts reporting, Vogel had 42.76 percent of the vote, to 40.03 percent for Reeves and 17.21 percent for Davis.
"After many months and many more miles spent campaigning across the commonwealth, I am incredibly grateful and honored to be the Republican Party's nominee for lieutenant governor," Vogel said in a statement.
"The biggest issues of our day should not be partisan issues, and as this campaign continues building momentum, I eagerly look forward to earning the support of independents and Democrats who also wish to put principle over party and focus on solving our problems."
If he wins in November, Fairfax will be the second African-American elected lieutenant governor in Virginia. L. Douglas Wilder was lieutenant governor before becoming the nation’s first elected black governor in 1989.
Vogel is the only woman among the six statewide candidates in the two major parties. If she wins, she will be the state’s first female lieutenant governor and the second woman elected to statewide office in Virginia. Democrat Mary Sue Terry served two terms as attorney general, from 1986 to 1993.
Fairfax’s campaign relied on ground-level politics in fending off Platt, who centered her campaign on opposition to President Donald Trump.
“I am honored and humbled by the support we received across the commonwealth," Platt said in a statement. "I am grateful to my supporters, particularly women, who stood with us every step of the way.
“I congratulate Justin Fairfax on his victory and look forward to working with him to make Virginia a better place to work, live, and raise a family.”
In Virginia, the lieutenant governor holds a part-time job presiding over the state Senate and breaks tie votes on most issues. But in a way, the vote for lieutenant governor can be seen as a party nominating a gubernatorial hopeful in waiting.
In the Republican contest, Reeves had pummeled Vogel with direct mail attacks during the campaign and attacked her for supporting gay rights and being “liberal.”
The campaign also included personally contentious allegations from Reeves that Vogel and her husband were behind an email last fall alleging he had an affair with a campaign aide. Reeves has denied the allegation and said it is defamatory. A judge denied Reeves’ request to depose the Vogels, and Reeves has said he will sue them and others to get to the truth.
Vogel is the managing partner of a law firm handling campaign finance and ethics issues.
Fairfax spent two years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Virginia’s Eastern District and now is a litigator at a Northern Virginia law firm. He led Platt and Rossi in fundraising, raising more than $1 million.
Platt, 62, a veteran Democratic operative, served as a chief of staff to then-U.S. Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., and ran the 1994 re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Charles S. Robb, in which he defeated Republican challenger Oliver North.
Rossi, 60, like Fairfax, worked in the U.S. Attorney’s Office but his career spanned nearly three decades and included high-level cases. He handled more than 110 federal trials.