Virginia Presidential Primary, 2020

Virginia’s presidential primary election will be held on March 3, 2020. Democratic Party of Virginia voters will be choosing which presidential candidate the state’s pledged delegates to the Democratic National Convention will vote for on the first ballot. The Republican Party of Virginia has chosen to select its delegates to the Republican National Convention in a state convention and is not holding a presidential primary this year.

Off on a Tangent makes recommendations to party primary voters in each contested state- and federal-level primary race in Virginia, as well as those for Loudoun County local offices. Primaries for offices other than president will be held later in the year and will be reviewed in a later article.

Political parties are private organizations that should not have any official standing in our political system, but Democratic and Republican primaries are held by the Virginia Department of Elections and are funded by Virginia taxpayers. The purpose of a party primary should be for members of that party to choose who will represent them on the general election ballot. Virginia, however, has an “open primary” system where any registered voter may vote in any one (but not more than one) primary held on a given day each year.

Democratic Party

Democratic Party

The Democratic Party of Virginia is represented by 124 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. The convention delegates are responsible for selecting the Democratic presidential nominee.

Of Virginia’s 124 Democratic delegates, 99 are “pledged delegates” who are obligated to vote for the candidate selected by Virginia’s primary voters on the first convention ballot. The other 25 are “super-delegates” who may vote for any candidate they wish.

Fourteen candidates appear on the Democratic primary ballot in Virginia.

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. Four of the fourteen candidates qualify as major candidates based on poll averages at the time of this writing.

Joe Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden (D), who served for decades in the Senate before ascending to the second highest office in the land, is a likable guy. He’s a gaffe machine, sure, but that only makes him more endearing. Had he run in 2016, he almost certainly would have won the Democratic nomination . . . and might well have won the presidency.

Since then, his party has lurched even further off to the left. That left Biden with a choice: He could stand his ground, defend his pragmatic record, and resist the radicalization of his party . . . or he could lurch leftward himself in a craven effort to win votes. He chose the latter.

Biden was never a moderate, and has been consistently in opposition to fundamental human rights like the right to life. That in and of itself makes it difficult to give him serious consideration. But now he repudiates even the smallest compromises that he used to make with his own conscience . . . like the “Hyde Amendment” prohibition on the use of federal tax dollars for abortions. He was consistently for it—for decades—but has flipped against it in an effort to placate a radicalized party.

Mike Bloomberg

Former Mayor of New York, New York, Mike Bloomberg (I), not content to trample the human and civil rights of only New Yorkers, now wants to export his dictatorial micromanagement to the rest of the country.

In some ways, Bloomberg—an independent who occasionally hooks-up with one party or the other—is a moderate. He’s certainly no socialist with regard to economic freedoms. But as mayor he upheld New York’s irrational infringements on self defense rights and trampled the Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure. He even thought it was a good idea for the city to police soda sizes . . . seriously.

So yeah, he’s a moderate on the economic side of things, but otherwise he’s just as threatening to individual human and civil rights as the worst of the candidates on this year’s ballot. And he’s particularly radical when it comes to efforts to impose upon the human right of self defense (as codified in the Second Amendment).

Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is not a Democrat, but somehow he is now—for the second time!—a serious contender for the Democratic presidential nomination. Sanders is an unapologetic “democratic socialist.”

Socialism, of course, is a political and economic ideology that has been responsible for the subjugation and death of millions and millions of people over the last century and a half. So it ought to go without saying that supporting Sanders wouldn’t just be a poor political choice, it would be downright stupid . . . and that’s about the nicest and most polite way I can say it.

Throwing the word “democratic” in front of the word “socialism” doesn’t really change anything. If you doubt this, just ask somebody who survived life in the German Democratic Republic (East Germany) or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). Socialism is socialism, and socialism poisons—and often kills—whatever it touches.

Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) represents the lighter, friendlier version of socialism than that proposed by Bernie Sanders. Some of her critics think of her as a free-market capitalist, which gives you an idea of how wildly out-of-touch with reality the socialist wing of the Democratic Party has gotten.

While Sanders idolizes regimes that fully nationalized their markets, and proposes policies that would ultimately have to end with that kind of nationalization here, Warren proposes to keep more elements of a free market in place while reorienting them toward collectivist goals. So yeah, that’s slightly better . . . I guess. But in the end, her policies still mean wacky tax increases, rapidly ballooning debt, and economic catastrophe.

Warren is also particularly poor when it comes to human rights, especially the right to life. In a party that has completely embraced a radically pro-abortion platform, Warren manages to stand out for being even more radical than the rest.

Minor Candidate

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. One of the fourteen candidates qualifies as a minor candidate based on poll averages at the time of this writing.

Tulsi Gabbard

Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI 2nd) is the most intriguing and independent-minded of the 2020 Democratic primary candidates . . . which, of course, means the party has largely rejected her candidacy and she only qualifies as a minor candidate. Go figure.

Though she is just as radically opposed to the right to life as others in her party today, which makes her human rights record automatically suspect, she is less antagonistic to self defense rights and religious liberty rights than others. Most importantly, she thinks for herself, and is willing to buck the party line when she disagrees with it.

Former Candidates

Nine of the fourteen candidates on the Democratic Party of Virginia presidential primary ballot suspended their campaigns after qualifying for the ballot, are no longer actively seeking the nomination, and should be excluded from consideration.

Michael Bennet

Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) suspended his presidential campaign on February 11, 2020.

Cory Booker

Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) suspended his presidential campaign on January 13, 2020.

Pete Buttigieg

Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg (D) suspended his presidential campaign on March 1, 2020.

Julián Castro

Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro (D) suspended his presidential campaign on January 2, 2020.

Amy Klobuchar

Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) suspended her presidential campaign on March 2, 2020.

Deval Patrick

Former Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick (D) suspended his presidential campaign on February 12, 2020.

Tom Steyer

Tom Steyer, a hedge fund manager and political activist, suspended his presidential campaign on February 29, 2020.

Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson, an author, suspended her presidential campaign on January 10, 2020.

Andrew Yang

Andrew Yang, an entrepreneur, suspended his presidential campaign on February 11, 2020.


This race is difficult to evaluate. On the most important issue of our time—the reassertion of the fundamental human right to life—literally everybody on the ballot is deeply misguided. Since the right to life is the first prerequisite for every other right, if you get this issue wrong it’s hard to take you seriously on any of the others.

But that’s how it goes with today’s Democrats . . . a lot of loud talk about human rights that only masks a pernicious antagonism against them. Opposition to the rights to life, liberty, and property, opposition to self defense rights, and opposition to religious liberty rights are all now part of the Democratic litmus test. Only candidates who deeply misunderstand (or ignore) these key issues can make their way onto the party’s primary ballot. C’est la vie.

So we are forced to move to the economic side of things. Here, too, this is a troubling bunch of candidates. All seek to increase government’s interference in the free market. All seek to adopt policies that will inevitably cause drastic tax increases, mounting public debt, and limits on individual economic freedom. But some are worse than others. We can begin to limit the field.

First, we can disqualify the socialists. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) both plan to upend our entire economic system in favor of a system that has failed—with literally deadly consequences—everywhere it has been tried. That either of these candidates is a serious contender for the presidency is terrifying . . . and it is a damning commentary on our schools’ consistent failure to teach history.

Second, we can disqualify the rich micro-manager. Former Mayor of New York, New York, Mike Bloomberg (I) plans to impose his dictatorial whims upon the people of the country. He seeks control for the sake of control. While he is preferable to the socialists, that’s not saying much. Bloomberg’s paternalistic nonsense would be truly unbearable.

Third, we can disqualify former Vice President Joe Biden (D). I like Biden . . . he’s like America’s goofy uncle. His gaffes are hilarious, and generally harmless. And he certainly ranks higher in order of preference than the socialists or the rich micro-managers. Indeed, he is the best of the remaining major candidates. But Biden’s craven pandering to an increasingly hard-left party is troubling. His most laudable political positions have been abandoned.

That leaves us with the least objectionable of the bunch: Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI 2nd). She is the most independent minded, the most willing to break with her party when it delves deeply into absurdity, and the most likely to be a unifying force in American politics. I recommend that Democratic primary voters in Virginia cast their ballots for Tulsi Gabbard.

If you are reluctant to support a minor candidate with a near-zero chance of winning, I suggest casting your ballot for Joe Biden. He is the least objectionable of the remaining major candidates.


After this article was posted, but before the date of the election, some of the candidates suspended their campaigns. The article has been updated to reflect these changes, and will continue to be updated until the day of the election if further changes occur.

  • February 29, 2020: Hedge fund manager and political activist Tom Steyer suspended his presidential campaign and has been moved from the ‘minor candidates’ to ‘former candidates’ section. A brief mention of Steyer was also removed from the conclusion.
  • March 1, 2020: Former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg (D) suspended his presidential campaign and has been moved from the ‘major candidates’ to ‘former candidates’ section. Buttigieg’s mention in the conclusion as one of the least objectionable major candidates has been removed.
  • March 2, 2020: Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) suspended her presidential campaign and has been moved from the ‘major candidates’ to ‘former candidates’ section. Klobuchar’s mention in the conclusion as the least objectionable major candidate has been removed and replaced with Joe Biden. Minor edits have been made to Biden’s mentions elsewhere in the article.

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.