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Freitas Gets GOP Backing for Write-In Campaign

Del. Nick Freitas
Del. Nick Freitas. (Photo: Craig Carper)

Republican leaders in the House of Delegates announced on Friday they’ll back a write-in campaign staged by Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper).

The announcement comes after a public Facebook exchange between a former Freitas aid and GOP House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah), who questioned the write-in strategy in a year in which Republicans are fighting to maintain control over the chamber.

The two-time incumbent failed to submit his paperwork on time to get on the November ballot, and the Board of Elections refused to grant an exception to allow him on. That leaves Democrat Ann Ridgeway as the only person who will appear on the ballot.

Republicans explored a number of options, including suing the Board of Elections or trying to run another candidate.

But in a statement released by Speaker of the House Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) on Friday, Freitas ruled out court action as “costly and time consuming” in favor of a write-in campaign that he said “I know we will win.”

“Nobody fights like Nick Freitas, and I fully expect him to win,” Cox said. “He has our full support.”

Cox’s announcement follows a Facebook exchange between Gilbert and Christian Heiens, a former legislative aid to Freitas that was screenshotted and posted by the Twitter account Virginia Political Memes.

Heiens accused Gilbert, Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle), and the Republican Party of Virginia of trying to “overturn the will of the 30th District GOP Committee” by removing its chairperson.

Gilbert’s response seemed to question Freitas’ viability as a write-in candidate. 

“Oh YOU must be the mastermind behind the scenes who would rather run a write-in campaign than try to get a Republican on the ballot in an otherwise safe district when control of the state government is at stake,” he wrote. “Shame on me?”

Stephen Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington, still likes Freitas’ odds.

“It’s a Republican district, he’s well known and the Republican party will do what it can, what it needs to do, to ensure that every Republican incumbent can win,” Farnsworth said.

Freitas said he’s raised over half a million dollars in the last month.


Ben Paviour covers courts and criminal justice for VPM News with a focus on accountability.
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