Virginia Presidential Primaries, 2024

Seal of Virginia
Seal of Virginia

Virginia’s presidential primary elections will be held on Tuesday, March 5, 2024. The Democratic and Republican parties are both holding primaries this year. Off on a Tangent makes recommendations to primary voters in state- and federal-level races in Virginia and local elections in Loudoun County whenever nominees will be chosen through a contested public primary. Primaries for offices other than president will be held later in the year.

Political parties are private organizations that should have no formal standing in our political system. As private organizations, they are free to choose their nominees through whichever process they wish—common methods include conventions, caucuses, private “firehouse primaries,” and direct nomination by party leaders. But in Virginia and many other states, the Democratic and Republican party duopoly has given itself permission to hold public primaries at the taxpayers’ expense.

Public primaries in Virginia are “open.” Any registered voter may vote in any single party primary held on a given day, regardless of whether they are an actual member of that party.

Democratic Party

Democratic Party
Democratic Party

The Democratic Party of Virginia is represented by 118 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Of those, 99 are “pledged delegates” who are obligated to vote on the first convention ballot for the candidate selected by the state’s primary voters. The remaining 19 are “super-delegates” who may vote for any candidate they wish. Three candidates appear on the Democratic ballot.

Major Candidate

Major candidates are defined by Off on a Tangent as those likely to receive at least five percent of the popular vote for an office. One candidate qualifies as a major candidate.

Joe Biden (incumbent)

Incumbent President Joe Biden (D) stands for reelection. He is the only major candidate for the Democratic Party nomination. Biden was a long-serving member of the United States Senate, a two-term vice president under President Barack Obama (D), and is now nearing the end of his first term as president.

Biden has tried to paint himself as a pragmatic moderate, but his 2020 campaign embraced most of the wackiest fringe positions of his party, and he continued pandering to the socialists and anti-humanists after taking office. His administration’s policies at the southern border have led to abject disaster. He inherited an economy badly damaged by the insane overreaction to COVID-19, but his poor economic policies are prolonging the pain. He demands a “blank check” for foreign aid to Ukraine. He continues to advocate against the fundamental human rights of life, liberty, and property. I do, however, applaud Biden for supporting Israel and his refusal to bend to the “Hamas caucus” of antisemitic Democrats.

Unfortunately, I must also raise the question of Biden’s fitness for office. He will be eighty-two years old before the beginning of the next presidential term. Age is not disqualifying in-and-of itself, but I am increasingly concerned about his mental and physical health. In public appearances, Biden often appears confused and lost. When making unscripted remarks, he speaks quietly, slowly, and sometimes incoherently. Biden has always been a gaffe-machine, but there has been a marked, noticeable deterioration in his condition over the last four years.

Minor Candidates

Minor candidates are defined by Off on a Tangent as those likely to receive less than five percent of the popular vote for an office. Two candidates qualify as minor candidates.

Dean Phillips

Representative Dean Phillips (D-MN 3rd) stands as a minor candidate for the Democratic nomination. Phillips is an entrepreneur and businessman who was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2018. On matters of policy, Phillips appears to present a doctrinaire campaign for the modern Democrat—including the party’s most pernicious anti-rights positions and its ongoing normalization of socialist totalitarianism. His main argument, however, seems to be that it is time for a “new generation” of younger candidates.

Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson, an author and speaker, stands as a minor candidate for the Democratic nomination. Williamson is this race’s “comic relief” candidate. She thinks it’s really important to legalize drugs. She also wants to make “reparations” . . . because innocent people who were born a hundred years after slavery was outlawed apparently need to hand over a bunch of money to other people who were also born a hundred years after slavery was outlawed . . . for some reason. Enough with this nonsense already. Williamson suspended her campaign on February 7, 2024, but “unsuspended” it and reentered the race on February 28.


None of the Democratic candidates are worthy of the office they are seeking. You may wish to consider writing-in somebody else’s name . . . it almost doesn’t matter who. Pick any citizen at random and they’ll probably have smarter policy ideas and be less antagonistic to the human rights of life, liberty, and property.

If you insist on voting for somebody whose name is on the ballot, the least offensive of the three is the incumbent. I recommend that Democratic primary voters in Virginia vote for Joe Biden.

Republican Party

Republican Party
Republican Party

The Republican Party of Virginia is represented by 48 delegates to the Republican National Convention. Each of the state’s delegates are obligated to vote on the first convention ballot for the candidate selected by the state’s primary voters. Six candidates appear on the Republican ballot, but four of them suspended their campaigns before the date of the election.

Major Candidates

Major candidates are defined by Off on a Tangent as those likely to receive at least five percent of the popular vote for an office. Both active candidates qualify as major candidates.

Nikki Haley

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley (R) stands as a major candidate for the Republican nomination. Haley previously served as a member of the South Carolina House of Delegates, Governor of South Carolina, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Haley is the “old guard” Republican candidate. In both policy and temperament, she is reminiscent of the candidates the party put forth over the last two decades . . . before Trump came along and remade the party in his own image. You remember Dole, Bush, McCain, and Romney, right? Haley is next in that line of “compassionate conservatives” who don’t care about fiscal responsibility, milquetoast moderates who only pander to the base enough to shut ’em up, and “neocons” who are sometimes too willing to use American military force overseas.

There are things I like about the old Republicans. For example, I am, reluctantly, more closely aligned with the “neocons” than with the new Republican isolationists in matters of foreign policy . . . but only because it is better to have somebody acting as “world police” than to have nobody doing it. That’s supposed to be the U.N. Security Council’s job, but it is structurally dysfunctional and just . . . can’t. At the same time, there are things I don’t like about them, like massive budget deficits and muddy thinking on human rights.

Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump (R) stands as a major candidate for the Republican nomination. Trump is a real estate businessman who was elected president in 2016 with no previous political experience. He served one term and was defeated by now-President Joe Biden (D) in 2020.

Trump was a brash, center-left outsider with no connection the party machine who successfully tapped into widespread popular frustration around illegal immigration and the economy. By sheer force of will, he moved the entire party base against proactive foreign engagements . . . and against free trade. For his part, Trump, who had previously opposed to the right to life and the right to keep and bear arms, remade himself into one of the strongest advocates for these and other human rights to ever serve in office . . . though it remains unclear if he had a real change of heart, or just conformed for political gain.

While I appreciate some of Trump’s successes as president, he was not the savior many made him out to be. He overreacted to COVID-19 almost as much as everybody else (though he came to his senses sooner than most). He failed to repeal and replace “ObamaCare” even when his own party ran Congress. He blew up the federal debt. He stood idly by as rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol. He lied about the outcome of the 2020 election. And it is now clear that at least a handful of the criminal charges since filed against him are valid (so far, I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt on counts 34, 35, and 40 in the federal documents case).

I must also briefly acknowledge that Trump will be seventy-eight years old before the beginning of a possible second term in office. Although he has not (yet?) exhibited the kind of rapid age-related decline that Biden has, it is only fair to acknowledge that both men are well past the usual retirement age.

Former Candidates

Four of the six candidates on the Republican ballot suspended their campaigns after qualifying for the ballot, are no longer actively seeking the nomination, and should be excluded from consideration.

  • Businessman and pastor Ryan Binkley suspended his campaign on February 27, 2024.
  • Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) suspended his campaign on January 10, 2024.
  • Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) suspended his campaign on January 21, 2024.
  • Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy suspended his campaign on January 15, 2024.


The situation on the Republican side is, somehow, even worse than on the Democratic one. Here, too, I am tempted to urge you to just write-in some random citizen’s name.

One of my few inviolable political rules is this: I do not recommend, endorse, or vote for felons. I would consider a candidate who had a criminal past, served their time, acknowledged guilt, and changed . . . but if I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that a candidate committed a crime, and that candidate won’t even admit they did it, they are automatically disqualified. Criminal mishandling of government documents by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D)—which has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt—disqualified her in 2016. It would be dishonest not to subject Trump to the same test.

I have not yet completed my review of the many indictments and charges filed against Trump. Most of those I have analyzed so far lack sufficient evidence of wrongdoing or are just plain baseless . . . but not all of them. I am convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump is guilty of three of the forty charges in the federal documents case (counts 34, 35, and 40). Trump is disqualified, just like Clinton was in 2016.

There is only one other candidate on the Virginia ballot who has not (yet) suspended her campaign. I am forced to recommend that Republican primary voters in Virginia vote for Nikki Haley. You might also consider casting a vote for the best candidate on the list: Ron DeSantis. Sure, he’s not running anymore, but this whole primary is just an exercise in futility now anyway, so who cares?

Scott Bradford has been putting his opinions on his website since 1995—before most people knew what a website was. He has been a professional web developer in the public- and private-sector for over twenty years. He is an independent constitutional conservative who believes in human rights and limited government, and a Catholic Christian whose beliefs are summarized in the Nicene Creed. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from George Mason University. He loves Pink Floyd and can play the bass guitar . . . sort-of. He’s a husband, pet lover, amateur radio operator, and classic AMC/Jeep enthusiast.