Future Senator Steve Hunt’s Landslide Victory
In 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.”