This morning, citizens across Virginia awake to a day much like any other. The sun has risen, the temperature is fairly warm, and life proceeds steadily onward. The politicos among us, still weary from the toils of yesterday, look to the results of Election Day and are instilled with either hope or dread depending on one’s perspective. So what are the results?
The biggest topic is the Virginia Senate. So far, the Republican Party has netted one seat with Bill Stanley’s narrow win over Roscoe Reynolds in the 20th district. The 17th district is still too close to call with Republican Bryce Reeves currently enjoying a 136-vote lead over incumbent Edd Houck. It seems very likely that a recount in that district is coming soon.
Although the GOP has made gains, it certainly isn’t the slam-dunk that many conservative and Republican activists had hoped. Assuming Houck emerges victorious, the Democrats will retain control of the Senate. If Reeves wins, then the chamber will be evenly split with Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling likely casting the deciding tie-breaking vote in many circumstances.
One question that has troubled me throughout the campaign is, assuming the Republicans gain control of the Senate (or have a 20-20 tie), who will lead the party in that chamber? Will it be a fiscal, social, and constitutional conservative? Or will it be someone in the mold of former Senator John Chichester? Even though I’ve been told by several sources that we will not return to such days, unless the GOP chooses a leader based on conservative principles, and not merely on seniority, I remain concerned.
Before moving on to the other races, I believe it is important to recognize that conservatives could have made their gains greater, but they spread their resources too thinly.
Looking at the unofficial results, the GOP ran pretty close campaigns in the 1st, the 33rd, the 36th, the 37th, the 38th, and the 39th. However, the party devoted efforts to wide range of other races and thus ended up short in so many places. As Bearing Drift stated in the most recent issue of their magazine, the 36th and the 38th districts leaned Republican and yet both were lost. If money and volunteers were used in a wiser fashion, would the GOP now have a 21 or 22-seat majority instead? To use a sports analogy, why gamble so much and swing for a homerun when a simple base will win (or at least tie) the game?
Here at home, Republican Bryan Hutcheson will be the new Sheriff of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. Even though the city was close, Hutcheson captured an amazing 66% of the vote in the county. Congratulations to Mr. Hutcheson and his campaign team for their decisive win.
Moving north, Craig Orndorff emerged the top vote getter in the four-way race for Soil and Water Conservation Director in Shenandoah County. Best wishes to him in his new position.
With the House of Delegates firmly in Republican hands, not too much attention has been given to that chamber. However, given my ties with a particular House of Delegates seat, the last area of interest is the 93rd district. As I mentioned previously, this district became a little more Republican after redistricting. Mike Watson of Williamsburg capitalized on shift by defeating freshman Delegate Robin Abbott of Newport News.
Over all, things haven’t changed too much here in Virginia. I’m sure pundits from both sides of the aisle will spin the results to declare victory for their cause boldly stating that either President Obama has been repudiated or vindicated. Personally, I don’t think this election demonstrated a huge shift, but rather serves as another testament to Virginia’s conservative-leaning principles.
As the ink begins to dry on Election Day 2011, we prepare for 2012. Given the limited space on my car, today is the annual ritual of bumper sticker removal. So long Delegate Wilt and Senator Obenshain. I expect to see both your names on my vehicle for the 2013 cycle.
The ceaseless political battle continues again soon. But, for the moment, let’s come together as Virginians united and savor a respite. The time for reflection and introspection is at hand.