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Abbitt Endorses Peake For GOP

APPOMATTOX – Just four days before Monday night's scheduled GOP five-way debate at Hampden-Sydney College, State Senate hopeful Mark Peake received a major boost from retiring longtime 59th House of Delegates member Watkins M. Abbitt, Jr.

At a press conference on Thursday Abbitt endorsed Peake's candidacy, urging voters to support the Lynchburg attorney in the August 23 Republican primary.

Bert Dodson, a Lynchburg businessman, has been selected by the Democratic Party to face whoever emerges victorious from the GOP in the newly-created 22nd State Senate District, which includes Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward and six other localities.

In a statement issued to the press, Del. Abbitt said, “If Virginia is going to create jobs and economic opportunity in these tough economic times, we need leaders in the Virginia State Senate who know the importance of limited government and low taxes, leaders like Mark Peake.”

Del. Abbitt, who is retiring after serving in the House of Delegates since 1986, added, that, “Mark shares my belief that government must live within its means so we can grow the economy and create jobs, hope and opportunity. I hope you will vote for Mark Peake for State Senate in the new 22nd District when you go to the polls for the Aug. 23rd Republican Primary.”

Peake responded to Del. Abbitt's endorsement, saying, in statement issued to the press, “I am honored to have Del. Wat Abbitt's endorsement in this important race. Wat Abbitt is a strong and effective legislator. He and I share a goal that Virginia will remain a bastion of limited government, low taxes and restrained spending so the economy can grow and we can create jobs for hard working Virginians.”

The 22nd District State Senate seat was created this spring by the General Assembly and it includes a portion of Lynchburg and Amherst in the west, running to Goochland at its eastern end.

During a phone interview Thursday morning with The Herald, Del. Abbitt confirmed the reasons for his endorsement of Peake, saying he believes strongly that “Mark is the right choice.”

Noting Peake's Lynchburg residency and the route to state capitol, Del. Abbitt added, “I want someone who's going to have to drive through our area to Richmond.”

The retiring delegate also believes that Peake's profession as an attorney would allow him to dedicate the hours necessary to effectively represent the 22nd District.

Monday night's GOP debate, meanwhile, is scheduled to include all five Republican hopefuls whose names will appear on the August 23 primary ballot: Peake, Brian Bates, of Buckingham; Tom Garrett, of Louisa; Bryan Rhode, from Goochland, and Claudia Tucker, of Amherst.

The debate in Crawley Forum will begin at 7 p.m.

In a letter to the editor in Wednesday's edition of The Herald, Prince Edward County Republican Committee Chairman, Daniel Bradshaw, urged attendance at the debate. “Important issues that are facing our Commonwealth of Virginia, such as the flow of illegal immigrants into Virginia, job growth, regulations and taxes, education and more will be subjects discussed in the debate,” he wrote.

The new 22nd State Senate District offers a rare opportunity for candidates because, thanks to redistricting, there is no entrenched incumbent. There is no incumbent at all.

To show how dramatically things can change when the General Assembly convenes to redistrict once every 10 years following the US Census, the 22nd district was previously centered in Roanoke.

Monday night's debate is co-sponsored by the Prince Edward Republican Party and the Southside Virginia Tea Party Patriots.

The moderator is scheduled to be Paul Hoffman, who manages Fifth District Congressman Robert Hurt's Farmville District Office.