The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Location: Strasburg, Virginia

Friday, November 04, 2005

Hash browns and handshakes; B1

By Garren Shipley
Daily Staff Writer

NEW MARKET — Campaign stickers, handshakes and the sweet smell of southern fried cooking.

Democratic lieutenant governor hopeful Leslie Byrne was here at the Southern Kitchen on Friday morning along with 15th District House of Delegates candidate Jim Blubaugh, shaking hands and talking to supporters.

Byrne, a former state senator and member of Congress, was making one last swing through the Shenandoah Valley before joining up with the rest of the Democratic ticket and Gov. Mark R. Warner and heading for Southwest Virginia. She plans to be in the state’s major urban areas Monday and Tuesday.

She is opposed by state Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Mechanicsville.

The Democratic nominee said voters in the Northern Shenandoah Valley have the same concerns as most other parts of the state: education, health care and the environment.

“I believe folks in the valley want what we all want ... a good education for our kids, affordable health care and a transportation system that works,” she said.

Given the tight nature of races all across the ballot, a unified message and get-out-the-vote efforts will be a key to success, she said.

“We’ve got a great organization,” Byrne said. “We know the votes are there, because all of us are leading in the polls right now.”

“The trick is to get that lead actually to the polls on Election Day,” she said. Part of that effort is a major push in Southwest Virginia by the entire ticket.

“I believe this the first time all of the Democratic candidates have been together” for a major swing since 1989, she said.

Blubaugh said his race for the House of Delegates against former Shenandoah County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Todd Gilbert will go down to the wire.

“It’s coming down to the final few days, which are the hectic moments,” he said. “But I’m kind of encouraged by what I’m seeing in Rappahannock and Page counties especially, and in the area of Strasburg.”

Democrats probably aren’t as organized as the GOP on the ground, he said, but they will make their presence known.

“There’s really only one organized party, the Republicans. Then there’s everybody who’s not a Republican, and we’re all Democrats,” Blubaugh said. “We’re not really organized together, but we have enough money and volunteers to keep going right through the last moment.”

Blubaugh, of Rappahannock County, and Gilbert, of Shenandoah County, seek to succeed the retiring Del. Allen Louderback, R-Luray.