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Election Day excitement

Tuesday’s midterm elections brought excitement into The Farmville Herald newsroom as Staff Reporter Emily Hollingsworth and I tracked the returns that night.

I know the process of tabulating votes can still be drawn out today, but I have to imagine it was significantly more so back when technology did not influence the process so much.

As Emily and I checked the Virginia Department of Elections website for the results from our tri-county Herald coverage area, updates were frequent, which made things more exciting, for sure.

And then of course, the main source of excitement was seeing what would happen with the various races for public office at the local and federal levels.

Having reported on and met some of the people running, I ended up being added to different candidates’ mailing lists. To say I’ve been inundated with emails over the course of the past couple months could be filed under “understatement.”

But in part because of all this effort put forth by the campaigns, it made it even more fascinating, for me, to see who would emerge as the winner.

I twice covered campaign events of Democrat Leslie Cockburn, who was running for Virginia’s 5th Congressional District seat and visited the area a lot. To her candidacy, she brought years of high-profile experience in journalism during which she was granted direct access to prominent leaders both here and abroad, allowing her to be well-acquainted with issues still abundantly relevant today. Her Republican opponent also changed during the course of the race from Tom Garrett to Denver Riggleman after Garrett announced he would not be pursuing re-election.

I figured these factors would make her the favorite, but Riggleman won with 53.24 percent of the vote compared to Cockburn’s 46.59 percent. It made me realize that the political party which has traditionally held a given seat can be an overriding factor. Recent elections for Virginia’s 5th District have all yielded Republican winners.

Among factors related to voter satisfaction with job performance, tradition and being the incumbent likely helped Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, handily defeat Republican challenger Corey Stewart, 56.88 percent to 41.12 percent.

Since I cover the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors, I was naturally interested in how the race would go between Gene Southall and Peter Gur for the Farmville 101 District Supervisor seat. Southall ended up winning with 71.09 percent of the vote, which, again, made sense since he is the incumbent, though he has only been in the seat since May, having been appointed following the passing of Howard Simpson. Gur received 28.23 percent of the vote.

Emily and I were surprised early on by how the Cumberland County Clerk of Court election was going, as Eurika Tyree jumped out to a sizable lead over Deidre Martin, who has been serving as clerk since Sarah “Kate” Spry retired at the end of April. But only one or two of the precincts were reporting at that point in time to produce the surprising result.

With all precincts reporting, Martin pulled ahead for a clear win with 42.27 percent of the vote, though Tyree was the only one even close, with 25.41 percent.

Buckingham County definitely brought the biggest surprise of the night for Emily and me in terms of the local races. Using the approach I’ve established thus far, we figured Diane Blackburn was the favorite for the Buckingham Clerk of Court race, which featured five different people. Malcolm Booker Jr. had been the clerk for 40 years and retired June 30. Blackburn took over his duties in July and received Booker’s endorsement, but young Justin Midkiff took an early and significant lead Tuesday night and held onto it to win with 43.06 percent of the vote. Blackburn came in a relatively distant second with 27.60 percent. C.T. “Nicci” Edmondston was a notable third with 22.86 percent.

It would appear that voter turnout was outstanding across the area. An official at the place I voted at in Prince Edward said that it had been steady there all day, even more so than during the presidential election.

Thank you to everyone for answering the call and voting on Tuesday!

TITUS MOHLER is the sports editor for The Farmville Herald and Farmville Newsmedia, LLC. His email address is Titus.Mohler@FarmvilleHerald. com.