03/06/2012 08:35 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

VA Primary 2012: Mitt Romney, Ron Paul Competing In Swing State

March 6 (Reuters) - The race to win the Republican Party's presidential nomination to challenge President Barack Obama moves into high gear on "Super Tuesday," when 10 states, including Virginia, hold primaries or caucuses.

Here are some facts about the Virginia Republican primary.

* Of the main Republican candidates, only former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Representative Ron Paul are competing in the state's primary due to state ballot qualification rules that other candidates failed to meet. Virginia, which has 46 delegates, requires candidates to collect 10,000 signatures of registered voters in Virginia.

* Romney has the endorsement of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who is known for his anti-abortion views. But McDonnell has come under fire from conservatives for putting the brakes on a state law that would require women to undergo a vaginal ultrasound before having an abortion. Romney also won the endorsement of Eric Cantor, an influential U.S. congressman from Virginia.

* Romney and Paul also competed in the 2008 Republican primary in Virginia. Four years ago, Paul beat Romney, who came in fourth at 3.7 percent after suspending his campaign days before the vote. Paul had 4.5 percent, while John McCain won 50 percent and Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, won 41 percent.

* Virginia is relatively diverse, with Caucasians making up about 69 percent of the population, African Americans 19 percent, Hispanics nearly 8 percent and Asians 5.5 percent. The economy is also diverse, ranging from federal government departments to tobacco and poultry production.

* Virginia is considered a battleground state in the November election. In 2008, the state went for Obama, the first time Virginia voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1964.

* Virginia's unemployment was 6.1 percent in December, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, well below the national average. With a median household income of $61,406 in 2010, the state is one of the wealthiest in the country.
(Reporting By Lily Kuo; Editing by Deborah Charles and Philip Barbara)

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