For more election coverage:
Senate primaries: Sen. Deeds holds small lead over Hudson; Sadler and White-Boyd win
Election night analysis: Five incumbents lose, including Senate Finance co-chair Barker
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In one of Virginia’s most watched primary battles this year, Del. Wren Williams, R-Patrick County, on Tuesday soundly defeated his Republican opponent Del. Marie March, R-Floyd County, in the newly created 47th House of Delegates District.
According to unofficial numbers released by the Virginia Department of Elections, Williams won his party’s nomination with 67%-33% of the votes – a comfortable 34% lead over March, who by 8:45 p.m. had received 3,228 votes, compared to Williams, who got 6,581. The total did not include 2,412 estimated early votes. Williams comfortably won Carroll, Henry and Patrick counties, and the city of Galax. Only March’s home turf of Floyd County went to her.
“I am incredibly humbled by the overwhelming support our campaign received,” Williams said in a statement Tuesday. “Our campaign focused on the issues and our proven record in Richmond. The voters see the results we are getting for Southside and Southwest Virginia and overwhelmingly support our vision.”
Williams added that he was looking forward to returning to Richmond and “continuing our fight” for conservative results. “I am incredibly proud of our campaign team, volunteers, and supporters who showed up, despite the weather and helped put us over the finish line,” he said.
Williams will face Democrat Patty Quesenberry in the general election on Nov. 7.
Both Williams and March are freshman lawmakers who were first elected in November 2021. Williams, an attorney and longtime political operative from Stuart, trounced Democrat Bridgette Craighead by a 54-point margin after successfully challenging seven-term Republican incumbent Del. Charles Poindexter in what then was the 9th House District earlier that year.
March, an entrepreneur from Floyd who at the time owned three restaurants, a boarding house and an event venue, defeated Democrat Derek Kitts 66% to 34% in the 7th House District almost two years ago, succeeding Del. Nick Rush, R-Montgomery County, who had retired after serving five terms.
But mere weeks after the 2021 election, the Virginia Supreme Court approved new legislative maps that paired Williams and March in the same district before they got to take their oath of office. The 47th includes Carroll, Patrick and Floyd counties, parts of Henry County and Galax City.
While both lawmakers brought with them former President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again policies to Virginia’s legislature, they quickly began sparring with each other, well aware that only one of them would remain in office by January 2024.
Their feud escalated in September of last year, when March swore out an assault warrant against her opponent after he had bumped into her at a GOP fundraiser in Wytheville. But at a trial in January, a judge found Williams not guilty, stating that the prosecution “fell short” in proving the contact between the two legislators was intentional.
By the end of the 2023 legislative session, Williams had emerged as the GOP establishment’s favorite, collecting endorsements from prominent Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears and Attorney General Jason Miyares.
March, however, remained faithful to her reputation as the anti-establishment candidate, alienating even many of her Republican colleagues, including Lt. Gov. Winsome Earle-Sears, with whom she clashed over a policy disagreement in January.
Her actions did not win March many friends even within her caucus. During the most recent session, she failed to pass a single bill of the 17 measures that she had filed, making her the only legislator this year who couldn’t get any bills past her own party.
In contrast, Williams got nine of his 19 bills passed. Because he has made law enforcement one of his legislative priorities, Speaker Todd Gilbert, R-Shenandoah, appointed him to the Virginia Crime Commission last month. Williams also serves on the Courts of Justice, Public Safety and Privileges and Elections committees.
March on Tuesday thanked her supporters in a post on her Facebook page.
“We were funded by small dollar contributors, he spent half a million dollars of the big time lobbyists donations and his family’s big money and the backing of the Richmond swamp,” she wrote of Williams. “Goes to show you, elections can and are being bought every single day!”
Davis wins easily over Jefferson
In the neighboring 39th House District, Will Davis, a fourth generation Rocky Mount attorney, defeated his primary opponent Ron Jefferson of Franklin County with 77-23% of the votes.
While both candidates ran on a similar policy platform – such as expanding gun rights, defending the unborn, supporting law enforcement and protecting children from “sexually explicit material” in schools – Davis managed to rack up endorsements from area politicians, including seven county supervisors and both Roanoke and Franklin counties’ commonwealth attorneys, that helped him across the finish line.
Davis will face Democrat Gregory Maxwell of Franklin County in November.