Future Senator Steve Hunt’s Landslide Victory

By VA Blogger

huntIn an impressive victory, Steve Hunt received more votes than Marianne Horinko and Will Nance combined, taking more than 50% of the vote in a high-turnout firehouse primary. As I noted before, more than 1900 people, which is over 100 more than the Cuccinelli/Thompson primary from 2002 and in a shorter amount of time. Cars lined up for over a mile from Centreville HS and the line stretched out from the school to the road (in the cold) and never abated until polls closed.


Which makes Hunt’s victory all the more impressive and well-earned. The conventional wisdom that floated around the poll was that the larger crowd would work against him. And even after the polls were closing, I was predicting, campaign staffers were predicting, even Steve Hunt himself was predicting it would be close. Instead, we got a landslide.


Furthermore, as was widely reported, Horinko’s campaign put a lot of money into this race, while Nance put a modest amount into it. Steve Hunt’s campaign was nearly all grassroots based, and the very little money the campaign spent reportedly put them into debt (which will be easily overcome after the first fundraiser with AG-elect Cuccinelli). People came out tonight to vote for Steve Hunt, not because they got a ton of his mail or phone calls, but because they know him and want him as their State Senator.


There are two obvious statements to pull from this: First of all, Steve Hunt is easily the favorite to hold the seat over Dave Marsden on January 12th. The 37th, while a “swing” district, voted overwhelmingly for Bob McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli, and it lies in the heart of Springfield and Sully where Pat Herrity did amazing back in February. Republicans hold all three of the Supervisor seats the district overlaps with, and Republicans have performed well in recent low turnout elections. On top of all of this is that, as evidenced tonight, Republicans are still motivated.


Second, Steve Hunt is not to be underestimated. This was not a “base” turnout, and was no where close to the kind of turnout you’d see at a mass meeting or a convention. Granted, many people were contacted by the other two campaigns, but Hunt still won a majority of the votes. His name identification and support stretched far, far beyond the core of local party activists.


So in the upcoming special election you have three elements: a Republican-leaning district, a low turnout affair that benefits the motivated party, and a candidate who handidly won a contested nomination. To quote FCRC Chairman Anthony Bedell, “maybe Dave Marsden should save his rent money.”



  • Lovettsville Lady says:

    Awesome news! And just last week Horinko’s campaign manager was telling people about their fabulous campaign which had targeted specific churches and neighborhoods. They had identified 1,200 voters who would DEFINITELY come out and vote for her. They said their polling showed that she win with 1,200, Nance would get 500 and Steve less than 400. I thought they were completely crazy to believe that she could come out of nowhere and buy an election from a hardworking, long time party worker, well known, candidate like Steve. Marianne must be in shock. I’m not. I always thought Steve would win because he deserves to win. He’s by far the best candidate.

    How nice that republicans have the best candidate and the democrats have nominated the worst, carpetbagging, candidate.

  • Dan says:

    “maybe Dave Marsden should save his rent money.”
    I have to give Bedell credit for that one. That’s a great line.

  • Bwana says:

    The Dems are already at it-the NLS post on the primary is replete with terms like “right wing nut”…

  • Chris says:

    Clearly that game doesn’t play anymore, as we saw in November. If the Dems want this one, they better change their rhetoric because the folks just aren’t buy the “right-wing nut” line anymore.

  • Ron says:

    The NLS crowd is unhappy that Marianne Horinko did not win. It’s been awhile since Ben got to let his mysogynistic side emerge at the prospect of a Republican (or Republican-endorsed) female candidate.

  • Riley says:

    I’m very happy that Steve Hunt won the nomination. I’m also pleased with the manner in which all three candidates conducted themselves in this race. Nance and Horinko, should they choose to remain active in the party, have established futures for themselves (does either of them live in Marsden’s House district)?

  • Listening Lurker says:

    Neither live in Marsden’s house district.

    Besides Kerry Bolognese came within about 200 votes of beating Marsden last month while being outspent several times over and seems to have every intention of running again in 2011. Hopefully, with support from the state party next time and this year’s run under his belt as experience, Bolognese can beat Marsden next time. I don’t figure running and losing this special is going to help Marsden’s standing in his district.

  • Loudoun Lady says:

    Congratulations to Steve Hunt. Let the campaign begin!

  • G. Stone says:

    Congrats to Steve Hunt, a well deserved win. If Steve takes a page out of the McDonnell / Cuccinelli play book and combined with his own energy and popularity gives him a great shot at victory.

  • Lovettsville Lady says:

    This large turnout, with people waiting in long lines, shows how committed republicans are. I have no doubt that they will turn out and support Steve in January while democrats seem less than thrilled with their carpetbagger choice.

  • Gretchen Laskas says:

    Congratulations to Steve Hunt, and I look forward to the election ahead!

    But we Democrats know a thing or two about successful firehouse primaries. Last year, we had a blockbuster one in Braddock District when Sharon Bulova’s seat was up. Great numbers, high enthusiasm, long lines, saying everything you all are saying today. And as Creigh Deeds overwhelming win taught us in June, sometimes a great primary is just a great primary.

    However, if you all would like to use the primary as a chance to become overconfident, who am I to stop you? 🙂

  • Lovettsville Lady says:

    You might choose to show us your party’s enthusiasm for your chosen candidate, assuming that is possible.

  • Loudoun Lady says:

    Gretchen, Don’t confuse enthusiam and confidence in a candidate for “over confidence”. I don’t remember a lot of enthusiam for Mr. Deeds after the primary, as he was a poor candidate. From what I read and what people tell me about Steve Hunt, this is not the case. I’ll give Steve some money and help him out on the ground if possible.

  • Gretchen Laskas says:

    Hmmm…I remember a lot of enthusiasm for Deeds following the primary. Relatively short lived (and I’ll be the first to admit that special elections are often very differnt logistically than others) but palpable and real at the time. I’ll be the first to admit that enthusiasm for a candidate is a great thing, and I think Republicans will have it over Democrats in this particular election. That said, those of us who have been in politics on either side know that a large part of winning is simply slogging it out and doing the work that needs to be done. I’m sure we can all point to examples in our political lives of races that seemed to have the enthusiasm, but couldn’t pull it off at the end of the day.

    And I didn’t mean to say that I thought enthusiasm in Hunt was over confidence, but to tease a bit that I sort of hope that it is! 🙂

  • A Voter says:

    I spoke with Anthony Bedell in line, and he explained to me that one of the gems in this is that Republicans now have a list of about 2,000 motivated people who will stand in long lines, in the freezing cold, to elect a good candidate in the 37th. This is an awesome list to have, right before the special election!

    “Senator Steve Hunt”… I like the sound of that!

  • I think that Hunt had some help from more than just Mr. Bedell.I value Mr. Bedell – in fact, I’m looking forward to meeting the gentleman- but give the independents who are still nursing their bitter pill with Obama and Dems…and it was a blowout.
    What I now predict in the 37th is a continuation of November 3rd. Dissatisfaction with dems on all matters marches on.

  • john Tidman says:

    What we saw was a repudiation of the RINOs in the party at this vote. We don’t need liberals like maryann coming in and stealing our elections$

  • John Tidman, please. Steve Hunt had plenty of support from moderates in the party. All three of the candidates were social conservatives, so there was no reason for anyone to base their vote on someone’s stance on social issues. Horinko was saying all of the same stuff that Will Nance and Steve were saying.
    This is one election where we don’t need to talk about the moderate/social conservative differences between some of us in the party.

  • Recovering Moderate says:

    I was there for a few hours last night, Brian. That was not a moderate or independent crowd. That crowd was overwhelmingly talking about their social conservatism if anyone took time to just listen. Churches, gay marriage, abortion, ‘the assault on Christians’, etc. You name, you could hear it being discussed.

    Which, really, is what we should expect when even a huge turnout was still only 5-10% of the general election electorate and turning out to vote for 3 candidates claiming to be social conservatives. There was little to draw anyone else to the table.

    Whatever any of us might choose to believe about whether social conservatism is the way to lead a campaign in a general election, you’d have to be struck both deaf and blind last night to not see and hear the extent to which it was a driving factor for the passion that caused so many people to stand out in the cold for over an hour.

    Which, when you get down to it, is the greatest liability for moderation in politics: it’s difficult to be passionate about moderation and it’s disparities in passion, NOT favorable ratings, that can win low turnout elections. It’s how Ken Cuccinelli has been winning elections for years.

    High turnout elections with a ton of moderates and independents, where everyone and their cousin without any ideological bearing turns out, on the other hand, can be entirely different animals.

  • NovaRep says:

    I agree with Brian. The electorate was a mix, and Steve has a lot of cross-over support. In fact, I know two Democrats showed up to support him but left because of the pledge. This, is a good sign. Steve has his issues like any candidate does, but after serving on the School Board, he made votes and has served the citizens well. That all being said, I think both Marianne and Will have a future in the Party. Though, I think Will has a lot more to offer in terms of appeal to voters being youthful and energetic. Marianne spent well over $100,000.00 and did not run a good campaign. I blame that on her staff and consultants who simply overcharged her and did not offer good services. This election was about Grassroots, and as much as I hate this “term,” that is what it was. Steve was able to energize the base and it showed by garnering nearly 50% of the vote while the other two struggled to break 25%. That all being said, I am glad that this blog finally had nice things to say about Steve.

    As for Mr. Tidman, you still don’t get it, do you? This divide that you continue to attempt to generate with moderates vs. conservatives. We can agree on most issues, especially fiscal ones, and I agree that abortion is wrong, etc…However, my position is to win, sometimes you have to know your eletorate and those issues leave a nasty taste in people’s mouth. The reason McDonnell did so well is because he did not talk about them. Of course, he did not shy away from his beliefs, but he was smart and did not talk about them constantly. Until you stop attempting to expunge “Moderates” our Party will not be able to come together and defeat Democrats.

  • CliftonRep says:

    Congrats to steve! It looks like Dave is following the Deeds campaign plan of attacking Steve on social issues instead of focusing on things that his
    constituents want most – jobs, nbetter schools, better roads, lower taxes and less government. Oh ya, Dave doesn’t live in the district so why should he care about these constituents they are not his.

    Kudos to Steve for focusing on these issues and actually having a plan for voters.

    renting a room you don’t even sleep in doesn’t mean you are a member of that community. What it does say is that you are more interested in your own political career than the lives of the families living in that community.

    I applaud OurVirginiaNow for initially calling on Dave to resign his delegate seat. I hope the voters see through Dave’s efforts on election day.

    Keep up the good work Steve!

  • CliftonRep says:

    John your opinion is so few identify as republicans today. “Moderate” doesn’t mean you are less Republican. Who made you or anyone else with this position the king overseer of who is “Republican or Conservative enough” to represent this party. All three candidates are good people and would have represented us well. Steve Hunt was the best choice in my view, but to bash any of the others is why as a national party we are struggling to find a voice and real leadership.

    How about we try to work together instead of against each other. Let’s work on creating jobs, better schools, lower taxes, supporting a strong military, and fighting for less government. These are Republican ideas that both so-called moderates and conservaticves agree on. These are the issues Steve is running on and one’s we need to hammer Dave Mardsden on, not picking on people who were willing to put their name on a ballot. Until you are ready to take that leap i suggest we all not throw stones and work together to win this seat.

  • Lovettsville Lady says:

    I am sick to death of us attacking ourselves with the RINO label. Please, drop it. Let’s elect republicans and stop the silly name calling. It doesn’t serve us well. We only aid democrats when we attack members of our own party.

  • CliftonRep says:

    Lovettsville Lady,

    I could not agree with you more! Let’s win first and then talk about our disagreements. We only hurt ourselves and OUR party when we attack others in it. Save the hatred for the other party.

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