The Republican challenger to Virginia House Speaker William J. Howell on Thursday suffered a setback in her effort to reverse what she says is a change in absentee-ballot rules that gives the incumbent an unfair advantage in next week’s primary. A judge in Stafford County denied Susan Stimpson’s petition for an emergency injunction that would have made it more difficult for Howell and other candidates to collect absentee ballot requests electronically. Stimpson, 43, is taking on Howell, 72, in a race to represent a district including Stafford and Fredericksburg. Howell has been in office for 28 years and at one time helped Stimpson win a seat on the county board of supervisors.
“We’re pleased that the court validated our position, as we expected it would,” Howell spokesman Matt Moran said in a statement. “Stimpson has gone about as low as a candidate can go when it comes to nasty political attacks, but that is not going to change our game plan.”
Stimpson said even though the damage is done, she plans to ask the court to revisit the issue in court after the election. The absentee request period ended Tuesday.
“Asking the Stimpson campaign to come back after the injury has occurred is akin to telling a person seeking a protective order to wait to be attacked before seeking the court’s protection,” Stimpson campaign consultant Tim Edson said in a statement.