Republicans to Replace Tom Garrett on Ballot Saturday

Virginia congressman announced this week he would retire at end of term to deal with his alcoholism

The Virginia 5th District Republican Committee will replace retiring Rep. Tom Garrett on the ballot this Saturday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Republicans in Virginia’s 5th District will pick a nominee on Saturday to replace Rep. Tom Garrett on the ballot this November after he announced this week he would retire to deal with his alcoholism.

The 5th District Republican Committee voted 19-14 to meet Saturday to select Garrett’s replacement, The Roanoke Times reported, and will choose from a long list of candidates who have expressed interest, including state Sens. Bill Stanley and Bryce Reeves, state Del. Michael Webert, and a handful of people who work in the private sector.

Candidates have until 8 p.m. Thursday to notify the committee they’re interested in running.

The committee’s selection will face Democrat Leslie Cockburn in the general election in November. President Donald Trump carried the district by 11 points in 2016, and Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Likely Republican.

Watch: Garrett Says He’s Running for Re-election in Winding Speech

“The Committee did not ask for this responsibility, it was thrust upon us,” committee chairman Melvin Adams told the Times in a statement. “In true fashion the Committee will rise to the challenge and present an equitable process and meeting.”

Democrats are pursuing the seat with vigor after coalescing behind Cockburn.

Roger Dean “R.D.” Huffstetler, a Marine with deployments to Afghanistan and Iraq who raised more than $1 million through the first filing quarter of 2018, dropped out of the race shortly after Cockburn won the Democratic nomination at their convention earlier this month and threw his weight behind Cockburn to help unify the local party.

Garrett’s retirement announcement came five days after a bizarre news conference in which he insisted he’d be coming back to Congress in 2019.

Three days later, four former staffers told Politico that Garrett and his wife had turned them into part-time errand-runners, picking up clothes and groceries and cleaning up after their dog, which was often in his Capitol Hill office.

Garrett has denied those claims as “half-truths” or “lies.”

A former state senator, Garrett was elected in 2016 by a 17-point margin.

Simone Pathé contributed to this report.

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