Baxter Ennis wins Republican nomination for House District 89 race in firehouse primary

The Republican Party of Chesapeake announced N. Baxter Ennis as the winner of Saturday’s firehouse primary. Ennis will run as the Republican nominee for the House of Delegates District 89 race.

Ennis beat out Chesapeake City Council member Don Carey III and political newcomer Jason Wooldridge from Suffolk.

District 89 includes Chesapeake and parts of Suffolk. Ennis will run against Democrat nominee Karen Lynette Jenkins, a Suffolk school board member.

“I’m just so honored to get the chance to be the Republican nominee for the House District 89, and I’m just really looking forward to a great campaign,” Ennis told The Virginian-Pilot. “I look forward to the opportunity to go to Richmond — if I’m so lucky as to win in November — and help Governor Youngkin with his conservative agenda.”

Ennis, 70, described himself as a fiscal conservative and wants to make law enforcement and first responders his priorities. He said he values education and wants students to be prepared for college, a technical career or a career in the military.

The firehouse primary used ranked choice voting to select the Republican nominee, which means voters ranked the candidates against one another. Votes are counted until one candidate gets 51%. If a candidate doesn’t have 51% of first choice votes, the candidate with the least votes is eliminated, and second choice votes are redistributed to the remaining candidates.

A total of 1,576 ballots were cast, according to the vote tally published Saturday night on the Republican Party of Chesapeake Facebook page. Wooldridge was eliminated after the first round with 25.7% of the against Carey’s 30.8% and Ennis’ 43.5%. In the second and final round, 1,411 votes were tallied. Ennis had 57.7% of the votes and Carey had 42.3%. Republican party officials did not respond to calls seeking clarification on the difference in the total number of votes counted in each round.

Carey and Wooldridge both agreed with the election results Sunday.

“We ran a campaign and came up short against Ennis,” Carey said.

Wooldridge said he won the majority of the votes in Suffolk, but his campaign “couldn’t get through the wall of money” in Chesapeake.

Carey raised $95,000 in donations as of March 31, according to campaign finance data from the Virginia Public Access Project. Ennis raised $42,466 as of March 31 and Wooldridge raised $10,018.

“I’m pretty proud of our effort,” Wooldridge said. “I got all 40 plus volunteers that were on my crew door knocking, phone banking and trying to get the word out about my campaign for the delegate. We did a really good job considering what we were up against.”

Cianna Morales, 757-957-1304,