Last night was a very hard night to be a Virginia Republican. We failed to elect Ed Gillespie, Jill Vogel, and John Adams to statewide office, and the consequences will be with us for years to come. Ed and Jill and John were a great team, and I’m sure you all join me in thanking them for representing our Party so well. Ed Gillespie in particular said at the beginning that he might be outspent, but he wouldn’t be outworked, and he kept that promise.
For such a talented and uplifting statewide ticket to miss the mark is hard enough to bear, but at least as hard will be the loss of Delegate Jim LeMunyon. Jim has been an effective legislator and advocate for the citizens of the 67th District since he was sworn in in 2010. His steady, dedicated, and thorough approach to meeting the practical needs of his constituents and keeping them informed about their government’s activities will be missed very soon.
Despite his outstanding record, Jim LeMunyon was overcome by a statewide tidal wave, as Delegates in districts across Virginia that last year voted for Hillary Clinton were swept out of office. So many in fact that control of the House of Delegates remains uncertain.
Fortunately, despite the election night returns, it appears that Delegate Tim Hugo has been reelected in the 40th District. Please join me in congratulating Tim, and wishing him well as he continues his service in the House.
Our five challenger candidates – Lolita Mancheno Smoak, Linda Schulz, Cheryl Buford, Adam Roosevelt, and Paul Haring – also were defeated. We very much appreciate the courage and commitment to the principles of our party that they showed in choosing to run for office on the Republican ticket.
Commentators have been quick to opine about the reasons for last night’s results. Some of them know very little about Virginia politics. Others may have axes to grind and oxen to gore. They certainly can’t all be right. But there’s a market for the quick and simple answer that matches up with what we each want to believe, so it’s really no surprise.
Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck has put the loss down to three factors: The Senate’s failure to repeal Obamacare, out-of-state money funneled to the Democrats, and the increasing tendency of non-white and younger Virginians to vote Democrat. I’m sure those all played a part.
I claim no special insight into politics south of the Occoquan, but I do have thoughts about the situation in Fairfax County. I may write about that another time. For now, I’ll just offer three observations:
1. Donald Trump did not carry Virginia.
2. Ed Gillespie performed slightly better in Fairfax County than Donald Trump did in November 2016: 31.2% for Ed, compared to 28.6% for the President.
3. Turnout this year was up sharply over past gubernatorial elections at both the state and County levels. Fifty-six percent of Fairfax County voters cast ballots yesterday, compared to 46.8% in 2014 and 44.6% in 2009. Turnout in a race for Governor had not been over 50% since George Allen was elected in 1993.
Finally, I offer my deepest thanks to all the volunteers who stood out in the rain yesterday, wet feet and all. And also to those who got up well before dawn to work inside at a polling place or to set up outside; who walked all summer long, knocking on doors; who called and emailed to find help for back-to-school night or to cover absentee voting or on Election Day.
Thousands of people helped in many, many ways over the course of the past year, and we are all grateful for your commitment. I know the candidates are especially grateful that so many people gave their time and effort so willingly and selflessly. Our volunteers and our culture of grassroots political action represent the best traditions and the truest sprit of this country.