RICHMOND (AP) – Former Republican and Reagan military aide James Webb won the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in Tuesday’s Virginia primary.
Webb, a decorated Marine rifle company commander in Vietnam, will challenge Republican Sen. George Allen, whom he endorsed just six years ago.
With more than 80 percent of the vote reported, Webb held 54 percent of the vote over longtime Democratic activist Harris Miller. Webb pulled ahead in a seesaw race with a huge boost in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., the state’s most populous region where the turnout was heaviest.
Webb overwhelmingly beat out Miller in Prince William County and the City of Manassas.
Prince William County voters cast 2,487 ballots, or about 61 percent of the vote for Webb, and 1,604, or an estimated 40 percent of votes, went to Miller.
In Manassas, Webb received just over 62 percent of the vote or 277 ballots, compared with the 168 votes or nearly 38 percent that went to Miller.
Manassas Park split its support for both candidates. Miller and Webb each received 78 votes.
Webb, who broke with the Republicans over the invasion of Iraq and what he says are economic policies that bleed the middle class, said support from senior U.S. Senate Democrats was important to his victory.
“Everywhere I went, I had to face a room where people wondered if I really was a Democrat. When these people stepped forward to endorse, they were saying they were comfortable with my values,” Webb said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press.
Miller, a wealthy businessman and former Washington lobbyist, put nearly $1 million of his own money into the campaign and outspent Webb by more than a 2-to-1 ratio.
Webb, 60, has authored six military-suspense novels. He was assistant secretary of defense from 1984 to 1987, and Secretary of the Navy from 1987 to 1988.
He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1968, and was also in the Marine Corps Officer Candidates School at Quantico before getting his law degree from Georgetown University in 1975.