McLEAN, Va. (AP) — Women roared to victories Tuesday in Democratic primaries across Virginia on Tuesday, falling in line with what has been a national trend.
In every Democratic primary where a woman was on the ballot in Virginia, a woman won the nomination.
Robert Monroe, 53, a video producer from Glen Allen, Virginia, said he voted for Abigail Spanberger in the 7th Congressional District because he believes she has a better chance of defeating Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Brat in November.
"To be honest with you, I voted for her because she is a woman. To defeat Dave Brat, I think we need to energize the voters, particularly the female voters. I think she will energize that voting bloc," he said.
In northern Virginia, a key battleground in Democrats' campaign to take control of the House of Representatives was set after Democrat Jennifer Wexton won the right to take on two-term GOP incumbent Barbara Comstock.
Wexton, a state senator from Loudoun County who had the endorsement of Gov. Ralph Northam, won her primary with relative ease in a crowded six-candidate field in which several candidates matched or exceeded her fundraising. (The second- and third-place finishers were also women.)
Comstock fended off a challenge on her right from former Air Force veteran Shak Hill.
Wexton, after her victory, came out with a statement immediately attacking Comstock's links to the National Rifle Association.
"Barbara Comstock has worked to strip health care from millions of Americans, proudly touts her A rating from the NRA, and is so out of touch with this district that she hides from her constituents and has never held a single town hall," Wexton said.
The Comstock-Wexton race in Virginia's 10th Congressional District is seen as a tossup. The district stretches from the wealthy suburbs of McLean, inside the Capital Beltway, west to Winchester. Comstock won re-election in 2016 with 53 percent of the vote, but voters there supported Hillary Clinton in 2016 by a 10-point margin over President Donald Trump.
Comstock has kept her distance from Trump. In 2016, she urged him to drop out of the presidential race over his 2005 lewd comments about women - captured on an "Access Hollywood" microphone.
Democrats also have hopes in a few other Virginia districts. In central Virginia's 7th Congressional District, Spanberger handily defeated Dan Ward, a former Marine Corps pilot.
Spanberger told a cheering crowd at an election night party at a Richmond hotel she would flip the district in the fall. She faces Brat, who is seeking his third term after winning a stunning upset in the Republican primary four years ago over then-Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
"Make no mistake, we have a long road ahead of us and face an intense fight," Spanberger said. "But with everything that's at stake right now, we cannot let up."
In Hampton Roads, former Navy commander Elaine Luria won the Democratic primary and will take on Republican Congressman Scott Taylor, a former Navy SEAL, in November.
Luria defeated school teacher Karen Mallard in Virginia's 2nd District.
In a phone interview, Luria said the energy she felt among voters was palpable.
"I'm just very motivated by the energy that we feel and the people who showed up to vote today," she said.
She said Taylor has failed to do enough to address climate change and sea-level rise, which plagues the region.
National Democrats are backing Luria in their quest to flip the district. The 2nd District is considered competitive, although political observers say it leans Republican.
The district includes Virginia Beach, the state's largest city, and the world's largest Navy base in Norfolk.
Taylor, who easily won his own primary race, told The Associated Press in an interview that Luria is out of sync with the district, citing her opposition to the Republican-backed tax bill and her support for a $15 minimum wage, which Taylor said would "devastate" Virginia's tourism industry.
In the 6th District, Jennifer Lewis won a four-way Democratic primary for an open seat. She will face state Sen. Ben Cline, a former staffer to retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte, in a heavily Republican district.
In the 1st District, Vangie Williams won a three-way race for the right to take on GOP incumbent Rob Wittman.
In the 9th District, Anthony Flaccavento defeated Justin Santopietro to win the Democratic primary there. Flaccavento takes on GOP incumbent Morgan Griffith.
On the GOP side, Ryan McAdams won the 4th District nomination over Shion Fenty. McAdams faces Democratic incumbent Donald McEachin.
Associated Press writers Sarah Rankin and Denise Lavoie in Richmond and Ben Finley in Norfolk contributed to this report.