Del. Nick Freitas has withdrawn as the Republican nominee for the November election in the 30th District.
He informed the State Board of Elections of the decision via a brief letter Thursday following a weeks-long snafu revealing that the incumbent had not submitted his reelection paperwork by the required deadline. Freitas did not return a phone call requesting comment on Friday.
Democratic nominee Ann Ridgeway, a retired educator from Madison, will now likely be the only name to appear on the ballot. In a statement Friday morning, she said the election in November is not about partisan politics, but who will best represent the area in Richmond.
“My message and my commitment to our community is the same regardless of who is on the ballot with me in November,” she said. “I am thrilled to see the support and enthusiasm grow within the District. I am proud of what we have done thus far, and I am optimistic for the future. We have an opportunity to represent Orange, Madison, and Culpeper in a better way, serving the people.”
General Assembly candidates are required to file paperwork with the State Board of Elections and Department of Elections. The local registrar is then informed of who the candidates are before printing their ballots.
“I have not received any instruction other than to hold tight,” said Culpeper County Registrar James Clements on Friday afternoon, as the situation unfolded.
He said the local office doesn’t typically print November ballots until September in case someone died, for example, or withdrew.
“We don’t want to have to pay to print them twice,” Clements said.
It will be now be up to the heads of the local Republican Committees in the 30th District—spanning Orange, Madison and part of Culpeper—to decide the way forward in terms of a presence on the ballot.
Culpeper GOP Chairman Jon Russell declined to comment on the issue Friday.
Republicans may try and nominate Freitas as the party’s candidate again. That strategy could be challenged in court, according to the Richmond Time-Dispatch.
Republicans might also mount a write-in campaign with Freitas or another candidate.
The Virginia State Board of Elections met last week to discuss Freitas’ request to be listed on the ballot even though he missed the deadline for required candidacy forms.
Freitas’ attorney Christopher Woodfin argued that the Virginia Republic Party had chosen Freitas as its candidate in the 30th District and that not listing him on the ballot would precipitate a large-scale write-in campaign that could complicate the tallying of ballots on election night.
Saying the board needed to consult the state attorney general’s office, board chair Robert Brink deferred the matter.
After a meeting Friday afternoon, the elections board emerged after 20 minutes, took no action, and declined to comment.
In spite of the turn of events, Ridgeway said her campaign message has not changed.
“As Delegate, I will work to improve our public schools, increase access to affordable health care, fight for greater mental health resources, support our veterans, protect our environment, and advocate for a better quality of life. We vow to show up, to listen, and to adapt to the needs of our constituents. This campaign is about what we’re fighting for, not who we’re running against,” she said in a statement.
Freitas has enjoyed broad support by Republicans during his two terms in office. He ran unopposed in 2015 and won in 2017 with 62 percent of the vote against Democratic challenger Ben Hixon, of Culpeper. Freitas is a former Army Ranger.
Republicans currently hold a two-seat majority in both the State Senate and House of Delegates. All of the offices are up for reelection in November.
Orange County Review reporter Hilary Holladay contributed to this story.