Dems Make Gains in County

Tonight was a big night for Democrats in Albemarle County, with the party taking control of three major seats from Republicans. The big news of the night is that I only have to watch my back for the next two months: Democrat Denise Lunsford beat four-term incumbent Republican Jim Camblos for the position of commonwealth’s attorney, winning 53% of the vote to his 47%. (His call to Denise to concede consisted solely of him barking “good luck” and hanging up. As always, unable to admit fault or defeat, classless to the end.) Democrat Debbie Shipp won the clerk of court’s seat by a landslide, with 54% of the vote to Republican John Dawson’s 31%. And Democrats have wrested one seat on the Board of Supervisors away from Republicans, with freshman incumbent and local boy David Wyant being beaten by local girl Ann Mallek by an impressive margin of 56% to 44%.

Republicans managed to hold onto a single constitutional office — Chip Harding defeated Republican turned Democrat Larry Claytor in a 54/45 split. This was Harding’s first shot at higher office, but Claytor’s second attempt at the sheriff’s office in the general election.

In other county races, Republican Ken Boyd just barely held Democratic challenger Marcia Joseph for the Rivanna BoS seat, with just 146 votes separating the two of them. Nominal Democrat Lindsay Dorrier (generally counted as a Republican with regard to his voting record) easily held off his two independent challengers with 56% of the vote in his Scottsville district. The only school board race with a challenger was the at large seat, held by Democrat Brian Wheeler, and he also won easily, with 56% of the vote.

There were no surprises in state-level races. Sen. Creigh Deeds, Sen. Steve Landes, Del. David Toscano and Del. Rob Bell all went unchallenged. Sen. Emmett Hanger, having survived a brutal primary challenge, easily defeated his Democratic and Libertarian challengers. Though all votes aren’t yet in, it’s clear that Democratic challenger Connie Brennan failed to oust independent Del. Watkins Abbitt, with the incumbent clearing the 60% bar.

No shockers in the city. The Democratic city council ticket strolled to victory, with David Brown, Holly Edwards and Satyendra Huja all easily defeating independents Barbara Haskins and Peter Kleeman. Democrats John Conover and Rich Collins defeated Republican John Pfaltz for the newly-elected seats on the Soil and Water Conservation board. The four winners for the school board were Kathleen Galvin (20%), Collette Blount (19%), Llezelle Dugger (16%) and Alvin Edwards (15%).

It’s Democrats’ BoS win that’s particularly noteworthy, because it gives Democrats a 4/2 majority, ending the long-standing 3/3 split that’s prevented them from instituting sprawl restrictions and rural preservation measures. We’ll see some significant changes resulting from Ann Mallek’s win. The narrative being written here — especially given Boyd’s narrow survival even amidst his last-minute support of rural preservation — is that many Albemarle voters seem to have enough of sprawl and all that accompanies it. We’re also seeing the results of simple demographic changes. The county is consistently supporting Democratic candidates — Al Weed, Jim Webb, and John Kerry all carried Albemarle, and that change has benefited Democrats today. Ironically, Republicans’ refusal to limit growth is probably what has brought about the demographic change that’s removing them from office.

You can see the Albemarle numbers and the Charlottesville numbers for yourself on the SBE’s website.

49 thoughts on “Dems Make Gains in County”

  1. I’d say the County Clerk race and especially the Sheriff race were relatively non-partisan. Familiarity with the candidates had a lot more to do with results than party. Claytor was a heavy favorite in the rural western/northern precincts, but Harding carried precincts everywhere else.

    I was surprised at the margin of Ann Mallek’s win. She carried every precinct, with a 58% total in Crozet. Her margin there was roughly equal to the increase in turnout over 2003.

    On a quixotic note, David Cox won the votes-per-expenditure contest in the 24th Senate district, pulling 27% of the vote with less campaign revenue than Libertarian Sime, who got 8% (I expected him to do better), and with 1/10 the cash of Hanger, who got 65%.

  2. Nominal Democrat Lindsay Dorrier (generally counted as a Republican with regard to his voting record) easily held off his two independent challengers with 56% of the vote in his Scottsville district.

    I think the Republican Party (for this election at least) also counted him as a Republican. At one of the polling places they were passing out “voter guides” and Lindsey Dorrier’s name was the only Democrat marked while all the rest of the open offices had the Republican marked.

    I’m also guessing that based on the Charlottesville City elections, voters are more than happy to pay for City Junkets to Italy and other budget wasters. The election results clearly signal they should all go ahead and go on that trip, that no one should bow out or pay their own way.

  3. Congrats on avoiding that suicide watch cell, Waldo! I cheered loud enough for my neighbors to complain when the numbers came up for Ann Mallek and Denise Lunsford.

  4. I’m wondering if Kleeman could have won a council seat if he had run against a specific candidate, and done a strong comparison of himself against that candidate. Maybe David Brown if he wanted to talk about governance, or Huja if it’s all about the Parkway. Yeah, I know Schilling won by single-shot voting, but that was among voters who weren’t too hot about Democrats anyway. Kleeman’s voting bloc isn’t opposed to the Democratic party.

    fwiw, I didn’t vote for Kleeman because I disagree with him on the Meadowcreek Parkway (although I liked his discussion of Biscuit Run, and a really good pol would talk about getting concessions from the county on Biscuit Run in exchange for building the Parkway in the city). I also withheld my vote from Brown because of a string of things including his apparent lack of commitment to affordable housing, but the clincher was his flip-flopping on the YMCA issue.

    Certainly happy about Lunsford’s victory, and the state senate.

  5. Thread hijack, but I’m frustrated, what is up with Fairfax county not getting its numbers in a timely fashion? Cuccinelli is neck and neck with a Democratic challenger, Cuccinelli is on the Commission on Mental Health Law Reform, how am I supposed to go to bed as I should since I have a 9:30 day long teleconference for a sub-committee of a taskforce of the Commission starting at 9:30 tomorrow without knowing if Cuccinelli is out? Gripe, whine, complain…:)

    But Camblos is out, Waldo is safe, we are all safer, so it really is just a whine….

  6. re: Fairfax, the Post says a new law slowed them down. They had a wireless voting booth system which was outlawed, something like that.

    Anyway, I think the results are in for the night there now, with only Central Absentee to go.

    Last Reported: Nov 6 2007 11:26PM EST
    Precincts Reporting: 38 of 39 (97.43%)
    Voter Turnout: 35,613 of 116,076 (30.68%)

    Oleszek (D) 17,738 49.80%
    Cuccinelli II (R) 17,807 50.00%
    Write In 68 0.19%

  7. Thanks colfer, I noticed they had stopped updating. So they are 69 votes apart and have 2.57% of precints still not reported. I’m going to have to go to sleep without knowing. But at least if I am robbed in the night and the trial isn’t for a few months, I will press charges! Life is good :).

  8. Great outcome today!!, except for Joseph and Claytor. Larry ran a good, strong campaign, and he worked really hard. But say, what’s with city dems endorsing a county repub? Harding’s vaunted DNA experience has nothing to do wtih the sheriff’s office–it’s not an investigative agency. And even if Dave & Julian are Chip’s buddies, so what–they don’t live in the county, and they don’t have to live with the outcome of the election. So, how dare they interfere with it? Should us county folks take to endorsing republican city council candidates? grr…

    Dave, I’m so disappointed in you! If you like Chip, tell him so, send him money, whatever–but don’t publicly endorse in a race in which you have no stake… and against your fellow democrats!

  9. Here’s a new set of signs that could go up around Crozet:

    Woke up this morning
    Feeling cooked like a haddock
    The county’s elected
    Ann Huckle Mallek

    I find it ironic that Mallek was probably elected by a number of people who moved to the Crozet area recently, and only now are wanting to limit growth.

  10. New residents in Crozet had no reason to vote to limit growth since they already had a master plan that did just that. I believe they voted for a supervisor that has both read and understands the 12,000 population limit in the plan. This was a case of fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. No shame in Crozet this morning.

    It will be interesting to see the break down of the voting in the White Hall District.

  11. UVA08 – I think that the only one who really benefited was Patrick Wood in the County School Board race. I didn’t see much about him before the race and I’ll bet that a lot of people just saw the “R” and voted for him anyway.

  12. Colfer, as of this a.m., Cuccinelli won by 91 votes with 100% of precints reported. So near and yet so far…

    But hey, the Democrats have control of the Senate,we have a new Commonwealth’s Attorney, I’m still off dialysis, I have fresh coffee in my hand, life is good :).

  13. Re: Fairfax.
    The Absentee precinct is in, and Cuccinelli (R) is still up, by 91 votes. The Write-ins have been absolved! Recount will happen I guess.

    Precincts Reporting: 39 of 39 (100%)
    Voter Turnout: 37,174 of 116,076 (32.02%)
    Cuccinelli 18,596 50.02%
    Oleszek 18,505 49.77%
    Write In 73 0.19%

  14. Didn’t see your post.

    Like White Hall District in Alb., Nelson had a big turnout, about 50%. Brennan (D) carried the county but not the election. Del. Abbitt (I) is not counted by the Post as part of the ‘R’ majority (another ‘I’ does caucus ‘R’, Lacey Putney), so it could be worse.

  15. If all of Albemarle county voted like White Hall Claytor would have won handily. I think that generally from my experience Democrats were a lot more motivate in White Hall than they were else-where. Claytor was a hometown boy, and Mallek’s campaign towards the end really caught fire.

    My bet is that generally in low turnout election the folks voting tend to be center-right. These folks obviously voted against Camblos. Look how poorly he did in the R precincts, he even lost some the major R precincts.

    Outside of the area where Claytor was an unknown (compared to Harding’s media profile–the Parade thing was a nail in the Claytor campaign coffin) and possibly where R turnout was higher he didn’t do so well. The Rs outside of White Hall seemed to be very motivated to get Harding in, and not so motivated about defending Camblos.

    Lunsford certainly benefited from running against an unpopular incumbent when it is not a good time to be an incumbent.

    That being said Lunsford ran an outstanding campaing, the kind you need to run in a low turn out (ie lots more Repbublicans voting than Ds).

  16. AND of course, we have the senate for redistricting in 2011.
    Payback’s a bitch boys and payback you will get for trying to redistrict Dems out of the state almost.

    I am also upset about Connie not beating Abbitt. She ran a heck of a good campaign.

  17. That’s the problem in Richmond, too many people look at redistricting as payback time. The Dems districted the Reps into oblivion for generations, when the Reps did take control, they returned the favor.

    A non-partisan, preferrably automated, system to draw districts would make all politics more competitive and more mainstream.

  18. Well, my candidates may not have won, but Congrats to the victors!

    Hopefully we can all enjoy another peaceful transition of power.

    Gotta love America.

  19. jmcnamera,

    I’m in total agreement. Wouldn’t it be nice if for once a party decided to draw the new lines according to objective population data and geography and not jerrymandering? Better yet, how about establishing clear precedents and policies that would continue to do so, regardless of who’s in power.

    Besides, I bet it’d go along way towards promoting good will and bipartisanship in Virgina politics…

  20. Nah. I think Kaine tried “can’t we all just get along”, a group hug and sitting around singing kum-by-ya. Didn’t work very well because the rethugs don’t WANT to do what is best for the citizens and state. They don’t CARE about us. Hell, they were mad as hell at Kaine because he was out campaigning for GASP- DEMOCRATS.
    I’m all for bipartianship but with this crowd we have in the House right now? This loss of the senate is just going to make them madder, more stubborn and meaner than usual. Redistricting is going to be one big fight. And while it would be lovely if everyone could act like grownups and do it fairly, I’m not hanging by my shoelaces waiting on that dream.

  21. Chalk me up as an ardent supporter of nonpartisan (not bipartisan) redistricting. I cannot support legislation-as-revenge, nor can I support legislators picking their constituents, rather than vice versa. The truth is the Democrats started it — we’ve been drawing gerrymandered districts for a century. Republicans gave us a taste of our own medicine, and we don’t like it one bit. There’s no reason why a state agency can’t establish our district boundaries in a fair manner, relying on current geographic and demographic data to create compact, contiguous, competitive districts.

    An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.

  22. Jim Camb-loss (sorry, could not resist) has been around for a long time. Sure he was not the best prosecutor and very arrogant but I never saw him as a bitter old man, until last night. His concession speech was simply pathetic. “There are a lot of things I want to say but I won’t, “and some crap about negative campaigning. Like he or his cohorts have never heard of Karl Rove. CA elect Lunsford ran an aggressive above the belt campaign and deserves better respect from a man who is clearly now out to pasture.

  23. The benefit of last night’s Senate takeover is that we should now have bi-partisan redistricting. Not as good as non-partisan, of course, but at least things won’t be as skewed as they obviously could have been.

  24. Glad to see Jim out of there, he needed to go a long time ago. I met Lunsford and was glad to give her my vote.

    Not so glad Shipp won, misleading voters in to think she has been in that office for 31 years. Yeah she has, but working at the front desk with a high school diploma only. I’m not one to think a college degree is everything (I don’t have one), but when you have to manage a large office and have to deal with all of our money, which millions comes through there, I would like some kind of ‘real’ experience, such as actually knowing how to manage people in a great way. Working hard for that vote apparently does nothing when you have someone misleading/ lying to voters about themselves. I was for Dawson, but if he had to lose at least lose to a worthy opponent, Van Cleff, who had near the same qualifications as Dawson.

  25. Congratulations to all of yesterday’s winners. Although not shocked by any of the outcomes, I must say I was a little surprised by the substantial margin of victory Anne Mallek managed to rack up in the WH BoS race. I thought I had a better handle on the electorate in that district, but clearly folks here like Lonnie and C.R. had a much better understanding of the dynamics at play in that race.

    So without bitterness, rancor, or ill will I wish Mallek and all of the other winners good luck in their new jobs.

  26. May, “lying” is a pretty harsh charge — can you back it up? She said she’d been in the office for 31 years and she had — no lie there. I’m not aware that she ever actually lied and said she’d been doing the clerk’s job for 31 years. I doubt that if anyone ever asked her “what has been your job for 31 years” she outright lied. I met her when she was going door-to-door in my neighborhood — I didn’t get the impression she was misrepresenting her qualifications or her previous role in the clerk’s office. So you’re aware that she outright lied about things? You must be, since you used that word.

  27. Re: Redistricting: Agree with the above posters, and I’d take it a step further. I think this is a major threat to democracy as we know it. When voters get find themselves in districts whose party leanings are so overwhelming as to having electoral outcomes more or less pre-determined, those voters quickly lose any interest in the process, feeling that their votes don’t really matter. That’s the opposite of what our society needs.

    Didn’t Sen Deeds propose a non-partisan solution to this problem a year or two ago (and then see it quickly go down in flames)? I hope he and others keep pushing this concept. Maybe with the General Assembly houses split, there can be some agreement that the present system of party-controlled redistricting doesn’t benefit the society in the long run.

    Waldo, maybe you could jump on this issue and make bunch of noise to get more of our representatives to listen? Seems like this might be a good time for the parties to compromise a little? Or am I just dreaming?

  28. Jim Camblos’ classless actions last night reminded me of a child being deprived of his toy. Storming out refusing to give an interview, not taking the time to thank the many voters that supported him and kept his sorry ass in office for the past 16 years, and blaming Lunsford for running a negative campaign (discussing Jim’s public record as a prosecutor is negative?….but maybe that the problem for Camblos…his record and well know to be negative)…..absolutely pitiful.

    Lunsford is the first democrat that I have ever voted for and I did so proudly (because of it being Lunsford) yesterday. Glad to see Jim defeated…as he has worked hard to digress to his current low level. I must admit…it was very comical to watch him act like a child last night and it ever so much reaffirmed that voting for Lunsford was the correct thing to do!

  29. Waldo, maybe you could jump on this issue and make bunch of noise to get more of our representatives to listen?

    I’m one step ahead of you. :) I launched just such an effort two weeks ago, attempting to record the position of every Democrat in the house and senate. About 2/3 have come from voting records, and the remaining third have come from legislators becoming aware of my campaign and e-mailing me with their positions. I guess I’ll just have to e-mail the rest to ask them.

    Of course, this is just to hold them accountable, making it harder for them to change their votes. None of it will help them figure out the importance of voting the right way on this. You’d think that, with the chambers split, this would be the perfect time to get nonpartisan redistricting legislation passed, but it’s quite surely not. House Republicans don’t think like that. The majority in that chamber occupies Bizarro World, where normal logic doesn’t apply. Until Democrats take the majority in the house, there’s just no chance of getting nonpartisan redistricting.

    On a different topic, I’m looking forward to hearing what Camblos has to say at his press conference at the courthouse tomorrow morning. I’d bet dollars to donuts that it’s to blame anybody other than himself for his loss. Maybe if I wish hard enough I’ll actually get a mention. I’d say there’s a 10% chance that he’ll actually threaten some sort of legal action against his opponents, both real and perceived.

  30. Waldo: You’re always one step ahead. :) Good work.

    Pardon my ignorance here, but what exactly is the redistricting procedure? I mean, who decides what districts get re-drawn to whose liking? Does the senate do their districts and the house do theirs?

    I agree that house repubs live in their own little “we and only we can protect Virginia values” cocoon (which of course accounts for much of their demise on Tuesday, but I digress…), but politics is about somehow finding a way to work with the a**holes on the other side, no matter how much they behave like a**holes. I mean, it seems like if a Dem Senate and a Dem Gov went to them and said, “we can either each play our stupid games and come away with half the spoils in another unfair and unbalanced system, or we can try and talk about a better plan”, AND if enough public pressure was applied…

    Yeah, you’re right, I’m dreaming… :)

    Agreed about Cambloss. He’ll likely go out with all the class he’s displayed for the last 16 years. Good riddance to bad rubbish. Though he’d stink up any landfill.

  31. Cecil, I know when my friends and I came in to vote, she had said ‘I have been doing the job for 31 years’ when trying to shake some hands, and we all came in at diffrent times, so it was just not me. I know when most people come in to vote they make some of those choices at the last possible moment. I know about 5 years ago I would have heard that and went, wow someone who has been thier for 31 years thus far so she must know whats she’s doing, why change. So when misinformed like that it means a lot to some people. The race is over, what’s done is done, it just gets under my skin when I see things like this happen.

  32. It was definitely NOT Camblos’ fault that he lost. It was George Bush’s approval rating and the Iraq war that did him in.

    And if you ask me, it’s a shame that people voted based on national issues and not based on Camblos’ record. Shame on all of you! One of these days, people might start voting based on things that matter and not things outside of the control of the candidate.


    Dear Lord, will someone buy this man a dog named “Clue” just so he’ll have one?

  33. Hahaha!

    And a full 7% of the public believes you, Jim. (The little poll thing on WCAV’s web link there – not that that’s a scientific poll, but sounds about right to me).

    Jim, face facts. You lost because the public perceives you as at best a bully, and at worst an incompetent menace to the local judicial system. Don’t go blaming that perception on Dubya.

  34. Ha! Ripped from the WCAV site:

    Do you think issues at the national level affected Jim Camblos’ Albemarle County Commonwealth’s Attorney campaign?
    Yes 5.5%
    No 94.5

  35. Dear May,

    I wish you could have been at the candidates’ forum at the local bar assocation. Van Clief and Dawson sounded like unprepared boobs. Only Debbie Shipp sounded as if she knew what she was talking about. Reason: because she was the only person who knew what she was talking about.

    And, speaking as someone who must rely on the clerks–ALL the clerks–including Debbie, I can tell you that she is NOT a front-desk person. She is a deputy clerk WHO HAS BEEN DOING HER JOB FOR 31 YEARS. And, she does her job ably. I think most attorneys would say the same thing.

    So, she was the proper person to win the election. Neither Dawson nor Van Clief knows anything about the job, and she does. Degrees don’t enter into it.

  36. “I mean, it seems like if a Dem Senate and a Dem Gov went to them and said, “we can either each play our stupid games and come away with half the spoils in another unfair and unbalanced system, or we can try and talk about a better plan”, AND if enough public pressure was applied…”

    Andrew (and Jan), IF Kaine and the Dems had ever done that in good faith, we wouldn’t be in this strait. The trouble is that for those liars and hypocrites every “compromise” is just the launching point for the next offensive. We had the biggest tax hike in state history under Warner (after which the “budget crisis” turned out to be an illusion), localities have seen a massive windfall in property taxes with the housing boom, and Kaine swore up and down during the election he wasn’t going to raise taxes – then he turned right around and proposed another big hike the week he took office.

    I don’t call breaking one pledge after another a “better plan,” I hardly think standing up to dishonest game-playing like that is extremist, and if there are any “a**holes” involved it might be the people who can’t be trusted to keep their word or stick to any agreements or compromises they make. And it seems at least some voters agree – the stand-fast House stayed R while the hapless roll-over Republican Senate went down in flames (but then my senator, anti-tax die-hard Bill Janis, easily won reelection).

    As for redistricting, Waldo, I think you’ve got the right idea. When the Rs took over the Senate they reformed committee assignments but not redistricting; now that the Ds have it back they ought to return the favor and finish the job – not roll back reform, playing “two eyes for a tooth” and only making things more bitter and divisive.

  37. Falstaff,

    Just saw your comment. Thanks, but we could have easily been wrong too. I certainly hope that if we had been that we’d be as gracious about it as you just were.

    Truthfully, while I’d like to think it was the growth issue that swung the vote, I think the irony may be that all the growth may have imported more Democrats.

    In many ways, maybe it’s a good thing that Dorrier and Boyd kept their seats. Now they’ll still be plenty of reason and incentive for compromise, while the new majority will mean that at the end of the day something will finally get done. I think Mallek seems open to reasonable arguments, and suspect she’ll end up being far more moderate on growth issues than some people think.

  38. Actually, I went to several forums. Even the Legal Sec. forum, where Debbie thought she was too good to even show up. And those are people who have to work with them every day too. Even one where she told everyone she has no idea on how to do a budget. So I have heard her speak, and when she does she writes it all down first, but it sounds like what a 6th grader could write when they find the thesaurus.

  39. She’s not a public speaker, that’s for certain. She is not used to the limelight. when she speaks extemporaneously and spontaneously, she comes across more like the person whom I see performing the clerk’s duties.

    and, knowing debbie, I doubt she thought she was too good to show up to a forum. she’s very humble and honest from what I’ve seen–and I don’t know her well personally, just from using the clerk’s office.

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