Primary elections were held on June 9, 2010.
Republican incumbent Rob Wittman was challenged by Democratic nominee Krystal Ball, a 28-year-old accountant and businesswoman. Independent Green candidate Gail "for Rail" Parker (campaign site, PVS), businesswoman, retired U.S. Air Force officer, and Vice Chair of the Independent Green Party of Virginia, was also on the ballot.
In the Republican primary, Wittman won against self-described Tea Party movement member Catherine Crabill. Crabill's candidacy had been controversial due to her statements that the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was intended to help citizens protect themselves from tyranny. and that citizens may have to turn from the ballot box to the bullet box. In 2009, Wittman and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell refused to endorse her for the Virginia House of Delegates. McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin stated, "It's absolutely wrong for any candidate of any party to refer to the actions of the President of the United States and members of the United States Congress as 'domestic terrorism,' and to threaten to resort to violence if one fails to prevail in elections." Crabill refused to retract her remarks, saying "Those are my convictions." Wittman voted against the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 during the financial crisis, against economic stimulus packages, and against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, so had been deemed by some commentators to be difficult to get to the right of. But there was also deemed to be good reason for Wittman to worry about the primary's outcome, given the anti-government mood of the country. Wittman defeated Crabill with approximately 90% of the vote.
Rigell won the Republican primary election over four other businessmen: Ed Maulbeck, Ben Loyola, Army Brigadier General Bert Mizusawa, former Navy SEAL turned local business owner Scott Taylor, and Jessica Sandlin, a single mother of 5 native to Virginia Beach. Bert Mizusawa raised more money than any candidate in the last two periods, and was considered a frontrunner. Businessman Rigell was the other frontrunner, receiving major endorsements from Thelma Drake, and Bob McDonnell's daughter.