Peake, Washington win nominations

Published 9:10 pm Monday, December 5, 2016

By Martin L. Cahn and Jordan Miles

Republican Mark Peake and Democrat Ryant L. Washington will face each other in a special election Jan. 10 for Virginia’s 22nd State Senate District seat.

They will both face independent candidate Joe Hines, of Rice.

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Peake earned the Republican Party nomination following an approximately three-and-a-half-hour convention held in Hampden-Sydney College’s Stephen F. Snyder Hall. At the end of the convention, representatives from Peake and fellow Republican contender Ken Peterson’s campaigns met with the party’s ballot committee. Within moments, Peterson called for delegates to nominate Peake by voice acclimation. The hall reverberated with a loud “Aye!”

Much of the first half of the convention was taken up with party business, especially a vote for a temporary convention chair. Not only did delegates have to decide whether to keep 22nd Senate District Republican Committee Chairman Daniel Bradshaw as the convention chair, but even how to go about casting their votes.

Bradshaw and Steve Troxel each received nominations. Some delegates indicated they wanted a roll call vote; others a voice vote. And before that could be decided, party officials had to determine exactly how many officially credentialed delegates were in the hall.

That process took some time, during which 2017 gubernatorial candidates Ed Gillespie and Frank Wagner spoke. Gillespie is a Republican strategist; Wagner is a state senator from Virginia Beach. A spokesperson for gubernatorial candidate Corey Stewart — who serves as an at-large Prince William County supervisor — also spoke. In addition, attorney general candidate John Adams of Richmond and lieutenant governor candidates Bryce Reeves and Glenn Davis spoke.

The ballot committee determined there were 463 official delegates in the hall. One hundred forty-five of them were from Lynchburg. Not long after, delegates chose Troxel as their temporary convention chair.

It took most of the rest of the convention for delegates to actually vote. During that time, Peake and Peterson addressed the hall.

Peake, a Lynchburg attorney, started by pointing out he and his wife started their family with quadruplets.

“But we also had a fifth child, our daughter,” he said and added, jokingly, “I’m a slow learner, but a hard worker.”

He said a friend asked him why he was running for State Senate. Peake said he told them he considered it a service.

“It’s my duty, my honor and obligation. I believe I can make a difference. I want District 22 and Virginia to prosper,” he said.

Peake said he and his family are very involved in the Lynchburg community.

“People want government off their backs,” he said. “I will stand up for our conservative values.”

For his part, Peterson quoted Ben Franklin, saying, “Well done is better than well said.”

The Goochland County supervisor said he first took an oath to serve at the age of 17 when he enrolled at West Point. He said he served for five years after graduation, later returned to school to earn advanced business degrees and spent more than 14 years working as a corporate finance executive.

Peterson said he felt a second call to service and was elected to Goochland’s board of supervisors in 2012, turning the county around from massive debt to seeing $200 million invested in his county.

“This is how I will vote after the election because this is how I’ve voted before,” he said. “I would like to be the one financial person to work with the 17 lawyers to fix things in Richmond.”

Ultimately, however, it would be Peake who would get the nod, Peterson conceding the nomination.

“We now have a unified district,” Peake declared afterward. “Now we’re going to have to continue the fight for January 10.”

Peake will face Washington, a former Fluvanna County sheriff, who secured the nomination Saturday as the Democratic candidate. Out of the 145 ballots cast during a caucus held at the Moton Museum in Farmville, Washington, a Buckingham native, received 108 votes, while Lynchburg Democratic Party Chairwoman and educator Katie Webb Cyphert received 35.

According to Jeff Rosner, who served as chair of the caucus and nominating committee, two ballots were blank.

“We appreciate the process,” Washington said after being nominated. “This is a very democratic process … I’m going to fight hard for the people in the 22nd District.”

During his speech before voting, Washington said he would work hard as a state senator, using “common ground solutions,” “common-sense policies” and “common sense approaches to try to make a difference for you.”

He said the district had been facing challenges such as health care, education and the economy, citing specific issues in counties across the district.

“We need to fund education. Education will drive the economy,” Washington said. “No matter what we say or do, no company is going to come to an area if we don’t have a strong workforce.”

He added that education “must be at the forefront of everything that we’re talking about.”

Washington said he is a “boots-on-the-ground guy. I’m going to be in your jurisdiction … At the end of the day, it’s about us as a team.”

Washington took questions from those caucusing regarding gerrymandered district lines, unfunded mandates and women’s rights.

“Actions are louder than words. And we’ve got to put things into action,” Washington said.

Washington was sheriff in Fluvanna County for more than 14 years, and currently works as a special policy advisor for the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

“I think that the people of the 22nd District want a voice there that’s going to stand up and fight (for) anything, from public safety to health care to the economy all the way down to education,” Washington said. “It’s going to take a lot of work over the next 30 days. I’m going to need a lot of support from the voters in the 22nd District.”

“Ryant Washington will be a change-maker for Virginia’s 22nd Senatorial District by fighting for good-paying jobs, affordable health care, education and other critical issues facing the commonwealth,” Democratic Party of Virginia Chairwoman Susan Swecker said in a press release after Washington was nominated. “Ryant is a respected public servant with a strong background in public safety with decades of experience in law enforcement as a state trooper, deputy sheriff and Fluvanna County sheriff.”

On Nov. 29, Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, ordered a special election for the 22nd District state Senate seat, which will soon be vacated by Sen. Tom Garrett, a Republican from Buckingham, who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives on Nov. 8, succeeding retiring U.S. Rep. Robert Hurt.

Last December, Hurt, also a Republican, said he wouldn’t seek re-election to Congress.

(See more pictures from the conventions at