Call it confusing, call it intriguing, but it’s a fact: Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper) is again running for re-election five days after withdrawing from the race.
The two-time incumbent in the 30th District has been chosen—again—by the Republican legislative district committee as its candidate for the November race.
The committee met tonight and unanimously selected Freitas as its candidate, according to a statement released by Joe Desilets, Freitas’ campaign manager.
The news comes on the heels of Freitas’ withdrawal from the race on Thursday. He was facing the possibility that the Virginia State Board of Elections would deny his request to be on the November ballot because he and the chair of the legislative committee had failed to submit two crucial candidacy forms on time. With Freitas stepping away, it appeared Democratic challenger and first-time candidate for public office Ann Ridgeway of Madison County had caught a big break in the right-leaning 30th, which includes Orange, Madison and part of Culpeper County.
By withdrawing from the race, however, Freitas created an opportunity for the legislative committee to start fresh with the nomination process.
Desilets said Freitas’ legal counsel, Chris Woodfin of Williamsburg and Holtzman Vogel based in Warrenton, recommended the strategy.
“We didn’t want to leave it up to chance,” Desilets said.
But nominating Freitas again is potentially a gamble, since it’s possible the Virginia Department of Elections will ask the state elections board to weigh in on the matter. If that happens, he would be right back where he was last week.
Promising that all paperwork will be filed appropriately this time around, Woodfin said, “The legislative district committee followed the statute as well as the party plan for the Republican Party of Virginia in selecting Nick as their nominee.”
If things don’t break Freitas’ way in his second attempt to get on the ballot, Desilets said the campaign is prepared to launch a write-in campaign. He said such an endeavor would be “resource-intensive” and probably cost between $100,000 and $150,000.
According to Desilets, Freitas has about $500,000 in his campaign war chest. For the several days when he technically wasn’t running for re-election, he added, the campaign was not seeking donations, but fundraising will resume tomorrow.
Desilets, who said he has been Freitas’ campaign manager for about a month, expressed confidence in his candidate: “We fully expect Nick’s name to appear on the ballot. The state [Republican] party feels the same way.”
Reached at her home this evening, Ridgeway said, “It’s crazy and I don’t know what to expect, but I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing.”
She continued, “I think it’s all kind of new territory. I assume I’ll be running against somebody, whether it’s a write-in or whatever. I don’t think I’m not going to have an opponent.”