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Joe May Enters 33rd Senate District Race as Independent After GOP Opts for Mass Meeting

After announcing his run as a Republican, he’s now running as an Independent after GOP opted for a Mass Meeting instead of a firehouse primary.

Joe May to run as Independent for 33rd Virginia Senate District. Credit: May campaign
Joe May to run as Independent for 33rd Virginia Senate District. Credit: May campaign

Del. Joe May (R-33) on Monday announced his intention to run for the Virginia Senate—and hours later, the Republican powers-that-be decided to hold a Mass Meeting to choose the GOP candidate rather than a firehouse primary. 

The move likely sets up a three-way race—at least.

May lost his bid for reelection when David LaRock defeated him in the Republican primary earlier this year. LaRock went on to win the general election for the seat May has held since 1994.

Democrats previously nominated Jennifer Wexton in a firehouse primary for the 33rd Virginia Senate District seat that will be vacated by Sen. Mark Herring, pending a recount in the race for Virginia Attorney General. According to the Virginia State Board of Election’s certified tally, Herring won by 165 votes. Obenshain requested a state-funded recount last week.

May acknowledged during his announcement—held at his business, EIT, in Sterling—that it would not be easy to win the nomination. Republicans John Whitbeck of Landsdowne and Ron Meyer of Herndon have already announced bids for nomination.

“This is not going to be an easy race and I’m not entering into it thinking it’s going to be a walk in the park,” May said. “It’s not.”

But that was before he learned the nomination would be decided by a Mass Meeting, rather than a firehouse primary, a move he criticized in a letter to supporters Tuesday. In that letter, he also announced his intention to run as an Independent candidate.

“I have been a Republican and a conservative all my life,” May stated in the letter. “But today, I join Sen. Byrd as an independent and I am a candidate for the state senate of Virginia. I ask for the support of every Virginian in the 33rd district—Republican, Independent and Democrat alike.”

In a primary, Republicans pledging their support for the ultimate nominee would go to one of several polling places and vote. Instead, participants in the Mass Meeting will meet Dec. 16 at Park View High School in Sterling and must register between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. No person who has voted in a nomination process for any other political party since March 1, 2004, may participate.

With May’s announcement, should he qualify for the ballot, it sets up at least a three-way race—other Independents or third-party candidates can still enter.

What do you think about the GOP’s decision to hold a Mass Meeting? What do you think about May’s decision to run as an Independent? Tell us in the comments below.


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