GOP Parties Like It's 2011
FARMVILLE – The Grand Old Party had a great big party across the commonwealth Tuesday night, as Republicans increased their dominance in the House of Delegates to historic proportions and secured effective control in the Senate-barring a recount reversal-thanks to Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling's ability to break any 20-20 deadlocks in the upper chamber.
Figuring prominently in the GOP's pending control of 20 senate seats, ending the 22-18 advantage Democrats had held, was Tom Garrett's easy win in the new 22nd Senate District that includes Buckingham, Cumberland and Prince Edward.
The Louisa County prosecutor won the senate seat by 58.23 to 41.67 percent over Lynchburg businessman and former Vice-Mayor Bert Dodson, or 28,121 votes to 20,124.
Republicans, with Bolling's tie-breaking capability as President of the Senate, will join Democrats in closely watching the recount in the 17th Senate District, which currently sees long-time Democratic incumbent Edd Houck having lost by 86 votes-22,536 votes for Republican Bryce Reeves to 22,450 for Sen. Houck.
In the only local contested House of Delegates race, Lynchburg businessman Matt Fariss defeated Nelson County Supervisor Connie Brennan, with Linda M. Wall, of Appomattox, a distant third in the 59th District.
Garrett, who awaited the election returns Tuesday night in Farmville, credited his win to the fact that “it's a good conservative district and we had strong conservative message.”
In an interview with The Herald, when asked if there was a message sent by voters Garrett replied, “the overarching” theme of the election, locally and statewide, was that it was “a referendum on the job Governor McDonnell is doing.”
The senator-elect said the people of Virginia “recognize that Governor McDonnell has got a solid plan to keep Virginia at the top of the list” of business-friendly, job-producing states.
Garrett noted the GOP gains in the Senate, even though Democrats drew the redistricting lines “in order to maintain” their power.
And Republicans redrew the lines in the House to retain their own power, as well, he acknowledged, and were able to do so, winning 68 seats.
“Which is quite literally unprecedented,” Garrett said.
The GOP has never held so many seats in Virginia's House of Delegates.
Garrett, who said he would have district office hours in Farmville, was asked how he foresaw a 20-20 GOP-Democratic deadlock working in the Senate and expressed optimism.
“This might be a shock…but I will work with everybody down there, regardless of what letter is beside their name,” he said, referring to the R and D that signifies political party affiliation.
He spoke of the “statesmen and stateswomen” in the General Assembly and believes if Virginia's best interests are put first “you can govern relatively easily with that 20-20 number…
“I'm not a disagreeable person,” Garrett continued, saying that he will look “to find common ground” with other legislators, Republican and Democrat, to move Virginia forward.
As for his presence in Farmville on election night, Garrett said, “Farmville is the center, the heart of this district.”
Which is very big district, stretching from Goochland and Louisa to Lynchburg.
An election night celebration in Farmville made it easier on his supporters and the hundreds of people who worked for his election.
“You can be in Appomattox in 15 minutes, in Buckingham in two minutes and Cumberland is one minute from Farmville,” he said.
“Farmville is the heart of the 22nd District,” Garrett reiterated, adding that he will definitely have district office hours in Lynchburg and in Farmville.
Looking back over a tough summer GOP primary and the general election contest against Dodson, Garrett felt gratitude. “I want to say 'Thank you.' I worked really hard but I did not do this by myself. Literally hundreds of people worked so hard,” he said.
And as his first General Assembly session approaches, Garrett noted that Virginians have varying ideologies and said, “I will be true to my word and principles and I will be accessible and listen to everybody.”
Buckingham's contribution to the 22nd District Senate race was a 57.92 percent to 41.67 percent victory by Garrett over Dodson, or 2,803 votes to 2,032.
In Cumberland, Garrett won by 62.44 percent to 37.26 percent-1,312 votes to 783.
Prince Edward County was the lone county won by Dodson, who collected 51.11 percent of the vote to Garrett's 48.62 percent, or 2,560 votes to 2,435.
All three Republicans won in area House of Delegates elections, with Fariss winning the only local contested House race, taking the 59th District, which includes Buckingham, with 52.98 percent of the overall vote, to Brennan's 41.24 percent, with Wall collecting 5.57 percent.
Fariss won in Buckingham, with 54.23 percent of the vote, to 41.78 percent for Brennan and 3.95 percent for Wall.
60th District Delegate James Edmunds won with 99.11 percent of the vote, unopposed, and representing Prince Edward County, while fellow Republican Del. Tommy Wright received his unopposed share-99.44 percent-in the 61st District, which includes Cumberland.
Buckingham won the local voter turnout award, with 47 percent of registered voters going to the polls, 36 percent in Prince Edward, and 31 percent in Cumberland.
Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement regarding the election results.
“Tonight, Virginia voters have made history. Republicans have gained at least six seats in the House of Delegates, bringing our majority to at least 65 members, the highest number Republicans have ever had in that body. In the Senate, Republicans have gained two seats, bringing the Party to 20 seats, with Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling holding the tie-breaking vote in the chamber.
“Over the course of this campaign, Republican candidates have focused on providing common sense solutions to the challenges facing our citizens. And that is how we will govern in the majority. We will continue to put forward common sense policies that will help the private sector create jobs and reform our government to make it more efficient and effective. I want to thank all the candidates, from both parties, who ran for office. Their commitment to public service is what our Commonwealth and country needs. Now, it is time to come together to govern and make this a true 'Commonwealth of Opportunity' for all our citizens,” Gov. McDonnell said.
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling, who may face a tussle with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 2013, said, “Needless to say, I am delighted that Republicans have regained a working majority in the Senate of Virginia. With the chamber equally divided at 20-20, it will fall on me to cast the deciding vote on many important issues in the months to come. I assure you that I will do so with the utmost respect for the responsibility given me by the Constitution of Virginia.
“Today, Virginians signaled their approval of the McDonnell/Bolling administration's common sense, results oriented leadership,” Bolling continued. “Virginia has closed historic budget shortfalls by cutting spending, defeating tax increases and reforming state government. We have invested wisely in core functions of government, including transportation, higher education and economic development, which has created the environment for Virginia's private sector employers to create new jobs and provided a blueprint to lead the country to economic recovery.”
For the Democratic point of view, Northern Virginia House of Delegates member, and party leader, Brian Moran noted the pending recount and saw the glass as half full.
“As we await a final result in a Senate race that could determine whether the Virginia Senate remains in outright Democratic control or a balanced 20-20 tie, I wanted to take a moment and thank you for all of your extraordinary efforts on behalf of the Democratic Party and our wonderful candidates,” he said in a statement released statewide. “Even as the Republicans and the media predicted a terrible night for Democrats in the Senate races and that we would lose as many as seven or eight seats, you helped us re-elect at least 20 of our 22 Democratic Senators, including major victories in Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Southwest Virginia.”