Democrats Sweep City, County Elections

It wasn’t even close.

Democrats didn’t just win every city election—there’s nothing unusual there—but have unseated two Republican incumbents in the process of winning every Albemarle Board of Supervisors seat. Diantha McKeel defeated Phillip Seay in Jack Jouett (57% to 43% 70% to 30%), Brad Sheffield unseated Rodney Thomas in Rio (57% to 43%), Liz Palmer unseated Duane Snow in Samuel Miller (57% to 43%), and Jane Dittmar beat Cindi Burket in Scottsville (58% to 42%). That will make 4/6 of the BOS women, and 2/6 veterinarians. Although BOS races tend to be decided by issues specific to each district, Snow and Thomas’ role in the surprise midnight vote on the Western Bypass, combined with unhappiness about their opposition to Women’s Equality Day and the Equal Rights Amendment, may have galvanized opposition to them and support for female candidates across Albemarle. Tonight’s results leave Ken Boyd as the sole Republican on the Board of Supervisors, a really stunning change in fortunes for the once-powerful Albemarle Republican Party.

In the city, Kristin Szakos won reelection easily, and her running mate, independent-turned-Democrat Bob Fenwick, likewise won easily, with 36% and 32%, respectively, to Republicans Mike Farruggio’s 19% and Buddy Weber’s 12%. For the Commissioner of the Revenue, Democrat Todd Divers got 62% in a three-way race.

26 Responses to “Democrats Sweep City, County Elections”


  • Once again, Cville is almost the most lopsided jurisdiction in the state: 5-1 for McA. This time looks like only Petersburg beat us out, 10-1. A previous time it was Alexandria (3-1 this year). On the other side, Bland and Scott went 3.5-1. But the R’s had more lopsided counties and cities than the D’s, I think. Those far rural places, and almost-suburbs like Powhattan, are generally between 2-1 and 3-1, unless they are heavily Af-Am.

    When you see Montgomery County (Blacksburg) go bluish, and Staunton, you start to think the latte drinkers are taking over, but it’s a little deeper than that. And for the numbers game, the small lopsided jurisdictions don’t matter much. But they do give you an idea of the deep divisions within the dominant jurisdictions, in NoVa, Hampton Roads and RVA. The suburbs swung to D is another way of looking at it.

    It’s like when you look at a county-by-county map of the whole country and see the only Democrats in South Dakota are in the big Indian reservation and one part of the the big city. There’s more going on that that.

    Racially & culturally, the most dispiriting map I saw was Obama’s first presidential win, where there was a belt of counties that voted more for McCain in 2008 than for GW Bush in 2004. And McCain lost! It’s more or less the Scots-Irish belt from the Pennsylvania Alleghenies to North Texas. Obviously the same thing is going on within other places whose borders aren’t drawn to show it.

  • Petersburg was 9-1, that is.

  • The county elections show that the residents of Albemarle don’t want the County to look like Fairfax and and sent a farewell to the Boyd style of politics. All the Republicans ran on an their “economic vitality” message, which I believe residents saw as a pro growth message and rejected it. What was impressive was the margin of victory, especially for Dwayne Snow, who in the out years of his term showed a more moderate view toward issues. It will be interesting to see what happens with the bypass issue.

  • The deciding issue was the bypass… everything else was a distraction. For the folks who cared one way or another about the Women’s Equality Day resolution, they were going to vote that way regardless.

    The swing voters did so on the bypass. It’ll be interesting to see how its stopped this time and if it’ll come back again later.

  • Say it ain't so Teresa

    Oh, one other observation. Apparently it doesn’t hurt a candidate to not appear on The Schilling Show.

  • So, of course people choose who to vote for on various criteria.

    Still I have observed that every now and then a local election is pretty much a response to something outrageous. For instance, the former prosecutor Camblos blew it with his handling of the “smoke bomb” case in 2006. And this election was largely about the tactics used to bring the hated proposed bypass back to life during the June 2011 “midnight meeting”. Perhaps it will be awhile before normal government process is abandoned, in the service of business/Lynchburg/state Republican politics, by the BOS.

  • I think you’re right Gail. I was working at the city polls and a voter came to me in the last hour frantic to vote for an antibypass candidate. I think the ByPass Truth Coalition energized voters who might not have voted, or helped them decide who to vote for. The Republican tactic to attack the Coalition probably brought even more attention to their cause and reminded people of the “midnight meeting”. Calling them anonymous trouble makers gave them the chance to get on the airways and put a name to their cause and garner support saying: we are just parents, grandparents and ordinary citizens who care about our children .

  • If you look at the three republican County supervisors candidates they all got about 43% of the vote. That looks to be a larger trend. Cuccinelli got only 35% of the vote in the Albemarle. That is quite a headwind to overcome. To say it was only about the bypass seems a bit too pat an answer.

    In Charlottesville Cuccinelli got 15% of the vote. The City republicans suffered a similar fate and had no Bypass issue.

    If you look further at Virginia by county and city you will see not a close election but a wildly polarized commonwealth of distinctly blue and red. Albemarle is now distinctly blue.

  • Perlogik, Wasn’t that also true the last time Snow and Thomas ran ?

  • Agree, perlogik – the county has been trending more blue for a while, and having Cooch on the ticket can’t have helped the local R’s. I’m sure the city Dems are happy that they made the switch a while back from having council elections in May to having them correspond with the statewide races in November for the same reason. Bigger overall turnout = more support for local candidates = fewer (none so far) random Shillings.

    But I’m guessing it’s not just the Cooch… it’s getting harder and harder to be a Republican in this day and age and be taken seriously. As for me, I used to be a neighbor of Mike Farruggio, and think he’s a smart and well-meaning guy – I would have considered voting for him if he hadn’t had that R next to his name.

  • Well Betty since the state wide vote for Governor was
    McDonnell 58.61% Creigh Deeds 41.25%
    and Albemarle was:
    McDonnell 50.47% Creigh Deeds 49.40%

    Since Deeds was this area’s Senator I would say that there was not any headwind for or against Snow or Thomas. Thomas won by +5%. Snow was in a 3 way race and got 45% of the vote and +5% of his closest rival. Three way races make any true analysis difficult however.

    What might be said is the Governors race in Albemarle is that they began at -15% in an even race.

  • Thanks for the analysis . I also agree with Andrew. Once the glitches are resolved in the affordable care act and many more Americans receive health care I wonder what issue the Republicans will run on.

  • Betty, I liked Obama’s quote that once it starts working, the Republicans will stop calling it Obamacare.

  • I do think the Democrats need to get serious about entitlement reform and locally they should forgo huge expenditures on unneeded infrastructure projects paid for by citizens, and be willing to find more environmentally sound and lower cost solutions, such as those proposed by Bob Fenwick, Peter Van der Linde and Tom Worrell for our local water and waste needs.

  • When local Republicans endorse these huge infrastructure costs to appease developers, when there are lower cost alternatives, they no longer deserve the label – fiscal conservative .
    In the city the only real fiscal conservative is Dede Smith who will now be joined by Bob Fenwick .
    Party labels locally no longer seem to matter.

  • ONLY party labels matter in the city, Betty. Win the primary and you’re in. The magic of the blue sheet listing your democratic candidates is all that matters in a general election. It’s not about issues, experience, time in the area, or even the color of your skin. The democrats have even made sure their primary is held after the students leave town for the summer so the students don’t matter either.

    You have to tip your hat to the Democrats in the city- their machine can only be changed from within, it is impervious to external forces. Look at Andrew’s comment. He liked the republican in the city, thought he was a good guy but the R after his name made the republican unelectable.

    Only party matters

  • Yes, the city Dems have a machine. And yes, it works. That’s not in question, nor is it necessarily a bad thing. Political parties exist for a reason, and machines like this are one reason why. You know who’s who, you play to your strengths, you get your people to the polls. The city republicans have a machine too, it’s just smaller and less effective because of the demographics of where we’ve chosen to live.

    My point was that the other reason political parties exist is that so voters have an idea about a candidate’s stance on positions. If a candidate chooses to align himself with this or that party, voters are given an indication of where his allegiances lie. And if MF had chosen to run as an independent (from what I know of his politics, he’s a pretty moderate republican, if such an animal can even be said to exist anymore), I might well have voted for him (and I’m guessing others would as well). But in choosing to align himself with the party of obstruction, pettiness and closed-mindedness, he lost any chance of consideration for my vote.

    I’m not disagreeing with you though, and you make a valid point: Fenwick failed twice as an independent before attaching himself to the Dem slate.

  • I think Thomas and Snow were voted in because of anxiety about property taxes around the financial crisis. Times are better now.
    I was amused yesterday to see Boyd saying that this election was not about the bypass. When he was reelected last year though, he did say (if I recall correctly) that his reelection did constitute a referendum of support for the resurrection of the bypass. Points of view do shift, don’t they?

  • Your “in the city” link goes to the Albemarle County results.

    Thank you! I’ve corrected that.

    Also, I had written that Diantha McKeel won 57% to 43%. That’s wrong—she won with 70% of the vote. I must have been reading off the results for one of the other two folks who won by 57% to 43%.

    My general apologies for taking a couple of days to fix those mistakes. I’m starting a new business [1, 2, 3], and the last few weeks have been awfully hectic.

  • Congrats on the new initiative/business, Waldo… it sounds like fascinating work!

  • Way to go-Waldo!
    Read this article that Waldo mentions http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/the-radical-new-institution-to-liberate-us-data/280988/
    It’s the most readable and the most Waldo.

  • “The most Waldo.” :) Yeah, that’s probably about right. Thanks, guys.

  • who is the other veternarian on the BOS?

  • Ann Mallek, although she’s not a practicing vet. She’s the daughter of White Hall veterinarian Dr. John Huckle, has a degree in zoology, and keeps plenty of animals.

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