Well the dust has settled here in the 26th district. With all precincts reporting in, the winner is…Tony Wilt. Although the official count is not available yet, according to the Virginia State Board of Elections, Wilt captured 65.82% of the vote while Democratic Harrisonburg Mayor Kai Degner won 29.89% and Independent Carolyn Frank had 4.14%. Voter turnout was rather high in this special election as over 24% of registered voters showed up to cast their ballots. As has been the trend in recent elections, the Democratic candidate won Harrisonburg, although narrowly, by fifty votes. In Rockingham County, Republican voters came out in force giving the Republican candidate an enormous 81.66%!
When you consider current history, all in all, Degner fared a little better than other challengers, such as 2009 House of Delegates Democratic candidate, Gene Hart, and in 2007 when Independent Carolyn Frank launched her first attempt. Then again, the last time this area faced an open seat back in 2005, Matt Lohr won with 53.48% compared to Lowell Fulk’s 46.11%.
So, my earlier adage held true. Whoever wins the Republican primary will win the general election. Even though the Democrats can win the city, the conservative County voters easily overwhelm whatever advantage the Harrisonburg electorate gives. Therefore, barring some major surprise, I expect that Tony Wilt will represent the voters of the 26th in the House of Delegates for as long as he chooses to hold that position. I hope that he will be the strong-willed constitutional conservative leader that the citizens of the Shenandoah Valley deserve. As for the other candidates, I assume that Kai Degner will continue to serve as our Mayor, at least until the city council elections, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he makes another try for higher office in the near future. And as for Carolyn Frank…well I really don’t know what she was thinking. According to the local paper, she didn’t raise any campaign money in the most recent cycle and I don’t know if she had any sort of coordinated campaign. A humiliating defeat such as the one she just suffered will certainly dampen any of her political prospects.
Congratulations to Mr. Wilt. Please make us proud.