UPDATE 10:13 PM: Final tallies: Chafin 439 (56.6%); McCall 268 (34.5%); and Neo 69 (8.9%)
UPDATE 10:10 PM: Congratulations to our nominee, Delegate and future Senator Ben Chafin, who won with 57% of the vote!
UPDATE 9:58 PM: @DRSuetterline: “Counting about 75% done. Folks sticking around just in case it goes to a second ballot”
UPDATE 9:52 PM: Can’t tell for sure, of course, but things look positive for Del. Chafin.
UPDATE 9:44 PM: Balloting took a long time. Will be counting soon.
UPDATE 9:04 PM: Still balloting. Appears some Chafin people tired after 2 hours…not sticking around to wait in line to vote.
UPDATE 8:36 PM: Voting among 834 mass meeting members to commence soon.
UPDATE 7:52 PM: Estimated 1200 people at the Tazewell meeting. Chafin has a sticker edge – though not huge and that is partly due to a dozen staffers getting them aggressively on people. Many Chafin supporters have said they do not know who Chafin is, but were told to come vote for him. Hundreds are there for McCall as well, but only a couple of staffers with not-as-aggressive volunteer leaders supplementing. Probably fewer than 100 for Neo, so not sure if they have enough to cause a second ballot.
UPDATE 6:40 PM, from The Bull Elephant’s correspondent on the ground in Tazewell:
Many Republicans have already shown up to cast their votes for State Senate in Tazewell tonight. By observation, Del. Ben Chafin has the lead so far with George McCall in second place. The surprise so far has been that very few supporters have shown up for Tamara Neo, meaning that the nomination could end on a first ballot.
If Neo has a bigger group of supporters show up shortly for the 7 p.m. Mass Meeting, then those those supporters could hold Chafin below 50% on the first ballot and potentially give McCall the win on a second ballot.
McCall supporters had worried that Democratic supporters of retiring Sen. Phil Puckett and strong support from Richmond might give Chafin the majority.
Republicans in Virginia’s 38th Senate District are meeting tonight in Tazewell to decide on a nominee to replace former Democrat Sen. Phil Puckett, whose high-profile resignation last week precipitated a flip to a GOP majority in the state senate, and subsequent blocking (for now) of Medicaid expansion in Virginia.
The 38th district, in Southwest Virginia, is a heavily Republican jurisdiction. Although the Democrats appear to have a solid candidate in Mike Hymes, a member of the Tazewell County Board of Supervisors, the odds are that tonight’s mass meeting will decide who will be the next member of the Virginia Senate.
Vying for the Republican nomination are Del. Ben Chafin (R-Russell), former Buchanan County Commonwealth’s Attorney Tamara Neo, and Richlands banker George McCall.
All three appear to be solid conservatives capable of winning in the general election. Brian Schoeneman has some very positive things to say about Chafin here, and Justin Higgins has an endorsement of Neo here. It bears noting that of the three declared candidates, only George McCall has taken a strong stance to defend the Republican Party’s ability to choose its own nomination methods, and to oppose any legislation like we saw earlier this year that would effectively strip the Party of that First Amendment right. That’s an issue near and dear to me. This is not an endorsement, particularly since I don’t know where the other candidates stand, but I hope McCall’s views on this issue will be among the things 38th District Republicans consider tonight.
If you’re a Republican in the 38th District, get to the mass meeting before 7:00 PM. It is being held at Nuckolls Hall, Tazewell County Fairgrounds, 515 Fairground Road, Tazewell, VA 24651. Registration opens at 5:00 PM.
Good luck to all three candidates! We’ll post results here when they become available.