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Woman power

Female candidates claim victory in Tuesday’s primary elections

Jeremy Lazarus | 6/12/2015, 12:17 p.m. | Updated on 6/12/2015, 12:17 p.m.
Female political power was on display in Tuesday’s primary elections in the Richmond area. In separate Democratic and Republican party ...
Jubilant state Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance hugs a supporter at a Petersburg restaurant Tuesday night after her Democratic primary victory over Delegate Joseph E. Preston in the 16th Senate District. Photo by James Haskins

Female political power was on display in Tuesday’s primary elections in the Richmond area.

In separate Democratic and Republican party contests, women repeatedly emerged as the candidates of choice among the voters who went to the polls, leaving male rivals in the dust.

Women already hold three of the five House of Delegate seats representing the city, and the new results appear to continue a trend of change in the area’s once male-dominated political scene.

Nowhere was woman power more evident than in the contested races for party nominations in three area Senate districts. The winners included Democratic Sen. Rosalyn R. Dance in the 16th Senate District that includes part of Richmond, and two Republican newcomers, Amanda Chase in the 11th Senate District in Chesterfield County and Dr. Siobhan Dunnavant in the 12th Senate District in Henrico County.

Currently, only eight of the 40 state Senate members are women, including Sen. Dance. And only one of the eight is a Republican.

Men did win, notably Chesterfield County Supervisor Daniel A. Gecker in the 10th Senate District that includes part of Richmond. Mr. Gecker led in party endorsements and money and captured the three-way Democratic primary with 46 percent of the vote.

He had to overcome a strong challenge from environmental lobbyist Emily C. Francis, who beat Mr. Gecker in the Richmond precincts. She wasn’t able to beat his strong showing in the Chesterfield portion of the district. Former Delegate Alex B. McMurtrie Jr. was a distant third in the race to select a Democrat to run for the seat being vacated by retiring Republican Sen. John C. Watkins.

Women also showed their strength in area primary contests involving House of Delegate seats.

Incumbent Democratic Delegate Betsy B. Carr crushed her male challenger, businessman Preston T. Brown. She won 80 percent of the vote in her quest for a new term in the 69th House District and is expected to be unopposed in November.

Newcomer Lashrecse D. Aird, a protégé of Sen. Dance and an executive assistant to the president of Richard Bland College, also claimed victory over three men and another woman in the 63rd House District. She won 40 percent of the vote in the contest to choose a replacement for outgoing Delegate Joseph E. Preston, who fell far short in his challenge to Sen. Dance. Ms. Aird will run unopposed in the general election.

In the 74th House District, which includes a bit of the city, the Democratic primary race had only male candidates. There, Henrico County School Board member Lamont Bagby won 80 percent of the vote to win the nomination.

Mr. Bagby easily dispatched former Richmond Mayor Leonidas B. Young II and Chickahominy Tribe Chief Stephen R. Adkins. Mr. Bagby, director of operations for the Peter Paul Development Center in Richmond, will have an opponent in the general election — independent candidate David M. Lambert, CEO of Lambert Optical and son of the late former state Sen. Benjamin J. Lambert III.

For Sen. Dance, a former state delegate who won a special election last fall that elevated her to the Senate, the primary win was a big boost in her bid for a full four-year term.