Daniel Gade

Courtesy of Daniel GadeDaniel Gade, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Virginia Republicans have picked Daniel Gade to be their nominee and face off against U.S. Sen. Mark Warner for a Senate seat later this year.

Gade won a low-key primary Tuesday against two other opponents. Gade raised by far the most money and has the highest profile of the three.

Once a hotly contested swing state where Senate elections were decided by small margins, Virginia has swung solidly blue in the Trump era as voters in the state’s growing suburbs reject the president’s agenda. Republicans haven’t won a statewide election in more than a decade.

Gade is a retired Army officer who was seriously injured in Iraq in 2005, losing a leg after his Humvee was hit by a roadside bomb. He advised President George W. Bush on military and disability issues and was Trump’s appointee to serve on the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, but withdrew his nomination after a lengthy delay in the Senate over his confirmation. Gade previously taught at West Point and now teaches at American University in Washington, D.C.

If elected, Gade pledged not to be a “rubber stamp” for the president but said Trump is “good on the policies that I care about,” including religious liberty.

Warner barely won six years ago against former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie, but no experienced Republicans wanted to take Warner on this time around. Former Congressman Scott Taylor initially announced a bid before changing his mind and running for his old, much more competitive, Virginia Beach-area U.S. House seat instead.

Turnout was light Tuesday and the primaries were delayed two weeks by Gov. Ralph Northam because of the coronavirus outbreak. The Virginia Department of Elections said voting precincts increased cleaning and physical markers to ensure social distancing. There was a surge in voting by mail, and the state allowed any registered voter to vote absentee because of the virus.

Virginia does not register voters by party affiliation, so all voters were eligible to vote in primaries.

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