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

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Valley votes GOP with few exceptions; A1

By Garren Shipley
(Daily Staff Writer)

Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine may have won the entire state by a little more than 5 percentage points in his bid for governor, but it was a Republican rout in the Northern Shenandoah Valley.

With a few significant exceptions in Tuesday’s election, the Republican ticket of former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, state Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Mechanicsville, and Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, swept the region by wide margins.

The biggest exception to the rule was in Winchester, where what was reliable Republican territory for President Bush in 2000 and 2004 went for the Democrats, just like it did in 2001.

Kaine took home some 45 percent of the vote inside the city limits on a total of just under 2,700 votes. Kilgore came in with about 42 percent, while native son H. Russell Potts Jr. posted a tick under 13 percent.

Factor out voters who went to Potts, and the margin looks very similar to the margin now-Gov. Mark R. Warner brought home in the state’s northernmost city in 2001, when he defeated Mark L. Earley 52 percent to 43 percent.

Further down the ticket, though, the Democratic margin disappeared, with Bolling de-feating former Rep. Leslie Byrne for lieutenant governor by about 200 votes. McDonnell came in some 322 votes ahead of state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County, for attorney general.

But like the rest of the valley and the commonwealth of Virginia, voters in Winchester seemed to have better things to do than vote on Tuesday.

About 43 percent of registered voters showed up at the polls, close to the state average, which was approaching 42 percent at press time with 95 percent of precincts reporting.

In 2001, Winchester turnout was 48 percent, compared to state turnout of 46 percent.

Turnout aside, Winchester is the only locality in the immediate area that turned for the Democrats in a big way.

Clarke County, an often-watched electoral bellwether, went slightly to Kilgore with about 48 percent. Kaine received 45 percent, and Potts raked in 7 percent — his best showing in the area outside of Winchester.

Potts brought home more than 8 percent of absentee ballots, while Kaine won the Berryville and Millwood precincts outright by more than 5 percent each.

Clarke also had the highest turnout of any locality in the immediate area, with about 58 percent of voters casting a ballot for governor, some 6 points higher than in 2001.

In Warren County, the Republican wave wasn’t quite as strong, but still swamped the statewide Democrats, with the exception of the North River District, which went to Kaine by five votes.

Byrne and Deeds also won by a handful of votes in the North River District.

Turnout was the story of the day, as well. In 2001, 46 percent of Warren’s eligible voters showed up, while only 41 percent voted this year.

Meanwhile, in Shenandoah County, the straight Republican ticket was apparently the way to vote.

Kilgore, Bolling and McDonnell swept every precinct, in some cases by 4-to-1 margins.

With complete but unofficial results in just before 10 p.m., the top of the ticket in Shenandoah went to Kilgore, 64 percent to 31 percent.

Turnout was down in 2005 compared to 2001. Tuesday’s tally in Shenandoah County was 52.5 percent, compared to some 55.8 percent in 2001, when Warner won by roughly the same margin as Kaine.

In the region’s only county with a contested House of Delegates race, 15th District voters in Shenandoah County chose Republican Todd Gilbert over Democrat Jim Blubaugh by a large margin — 71 percent to 29 percent.

Frederick County was just as reliable for the GOP, with the elephant ticket taking every precinct by margins close to 2-to-1.

Potts had one of his better showings in the area, with 6.3 percent, or some 1,125 votes. Kilgore received 10,696 votes, or about 60 percent, while Kaine posted some 6,027, or 34 percent.

A total of 44.5 percent of those eligible to cast a ballot did so, compared with 49 percent in the Warner-Earley contest four years before.