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Chesapeake's Spruill, Norfolk's Lindsey to vie for Kenny Alexander's state Senate seat

NORFOLK State Dels. Lionell Spruill, D-Chesapeake, and Joe Lindsey, D-Norfolk, will vie for the 5th District state Senate seat following Sen. Kenny Alexander's victory in Tuesday's Norfolk mayoral election.

In part, the race will be about Chesapeake vs. Norfolk and which city the new senator will call home. 

I've heard a number of people in the area say they'd back Del. Daun Hester, D-Norfolk, for the seat. But Hester said Tuesday that she doesn't plan to run and will support Lindsey, a lawyer from Norfolk elected to the state House in 2014 in a special election to replace Del. Algie Howell Jr. who resigned. (Pilot story on Lindsey's election).

Hester said it's "very important" that the seat continue to be represented by someone from Norfolk. The seat has been held by a Norfolk lawmaker as long as she can remember. Alexander won it in a special election in 2012 to replace the late Sen. Yvonne Miller. ("Alexander easily wins state Senate seat").

Chesapeake voters make up about 55 percent of the solidly-Democratic district (VPAP district profile).

Spruill is a political powerhouse with years in the General Assembly and has vast support from within the region's black churches. Spruill says he considers Bill and Hillary Clinton personal friends, and has traveled to black churches in North Carolina, Delaware and Maryland to make speeches backing Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination for president this year. (2008 Pilot story: "Del. Lionell Spruill Sr.: The man candidates want in their corner").

At Alexander's victory party in downtown Norfolk on Tuesday, Spruill and and Lindsey said they expect a firehouse primary. It's too late for the party to hold a primary for the seat on the scheduled June 14 primary date.

"I hope it's a good, honest contest and may the best man win," Spruill said.

"I'm all in," Lindsey said. 

Alexander won the mayor's seat in a three-man race with Sheriff Bob McCabe and Councilman Andy Protogyrou. Protogyrou unleashed attacks on McCabe and Alexander through the mail; they both stayed positive.

The mayoral election is of historic significance for Norfolk. Alexander will become the first black mayor in a city where the aftermath of "separate but equal" lingers today. Public education and crime were focal points of the campaign. 

Gov. Terry McAuliffe will call for a special election to fill the Senate seat. Absentee ballots have already started going out for Virginia's June 14 primary. So Democrats won't have the option of holding a traditional primary to nominate a candidate to replace Alexander.